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Tablet war breaks out in Malta elections

by David Needle

January 24 2013

College students in India hold up the low-cost Aakash tablet. Politicians in Malta plan to give away tablets to students.
College students in India hold up the low-cost Aakash tablet. Politicians in Malta plan to give away tablets to students.

There’s a unique ‘tablet war’ heating up in the race to lead the island state of Malta, with two rival parties promising to distribute tablet computers.

The news underscores the growing popularity of tablets as a worldwide phenomena that is likely to stoke both application development and lower hardware costs. If elected, the opposition Labour Party has said it would distribute a tablet computer to every eight-year-old school child.

Only two hours after that tablet pitch, Reuters reports that Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi upped the ante, detailing his Nationalist Party’s electoral program that plans to give tablets to all school children aged between 5 and 16.

Reuters notes that bloggers in the region are having a field day mocking the politician’s largesse, comparing them to both Father Christmas and Moses - another guy who liked tablets.

Both parties plan to get the private sector involved in funding their respective proposals.

Gonzi said tablets that can be used as digital text books are the next logical step in education given that his government had already given laptops to all teachers and put computerized white boards into all classrooms.

Labour Party leader Joseph Muscat reportedly told a news conference: "Tablets are key to fighting IT illiteracy."

Other countries, notably India, have announced grandiose plans to make  tablets available to millions of students at low-cost.

Distribution of India’s Aakash tablet, are available at a government subsidized price of around $40, but the first version had quality issues and the release of the so-called Aakash 2 is just getting underway.

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