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Teaching with tablets ‘will take some time’

Teachers more concerned about maintenance issues than getting technology for free, says union

Teachers are questioning whether giving tablets to pupils should be a priority.

Teachers are questioning whether giving tablets to pupils should be a priority.

Teachers need time to adapt to the “whole new method of teaching” that would come with introducing tablet computers in classrooms, according to their union.

“I have nothing against the idea of tablets in classrooms, but does this mean another reform? Teachers are still absorbing the latest educational reform… my message is: take it easy. Give teachers the time to absorb,” Malta Union of Teachers’ president Kevin Bonello told The Times.

One concern raised by teachers was how they would ensure all students were reading the e-text book they were meant to be following in class.

On Thursday, Labour leader Joseph Muscat said he would give free tablet computers to Year 4 students. Later that day Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi announced tablets would be given to all primary and secondary school students, starting from Year 3.

Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Michael Briguglio yesterday said it was unacceptable that the two parties were resorting to copycat games and “promising everything to everyone”.

Mr Bonello yesterday questioned whether giving tablets to children was a priority. Many teachers, he said, complained about the lack of maintenance in their schools.

Some did not yet have interactive white boards and in others these boards needed maintenance.

He added that he hoped both political parties would include the MUT’s proposals in their electoral manifestos, as these had been drawn up by teachers themselves.

The proposals spoke about ensuring a better educational system academically and socially, addressing topics such as bullying and child behaviour.

A secondary school teacher, who preferred not to be named, questioned whether spending more than €20 million on tablets was a priority.

“Some schools are being phased out and no maintenance works are being carried out on them. This is unfair to students who have to stay there for two or three more years.

“There are schools where there are social problems and children do not have the money to buy a basic calculator. Giving them a tablet seems odd,” she said.

While tablets in class could be positive, teachers were worried that change was happening too fast, especially for older teachers who struggled with new technology.

A primary school teacher, who also did not want to be named, welcomed the tablet idea. He said he liked technology and would have no problem adapting but there were teachers who would struggle.

“But the reality is we need to move into the future… I like that some children, who do not have access to this technology at home, will be able to access it and learn at school,” he said.

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