Every pupil in Flanders must have access to a computer from the fifth year up to and including the end of secondary school. A plan by the Flemish Minister of Education Ben Weyts should make this possible.
Weyts is reserving 375 million euros for the next two years to be able to loan a computer to every student in Flanders. Computers for shared use will be made available in the classroom for students up to the fifth grade. This is stated in the Flemish vision memorandum ‘Digisprong’, an ICT plan to improve the quality of digital education in Flanders.
The memorandum refers to ‘devices’ for students, as part of the plan to make ICT equipment more available in schools. This offers the possibility to use laptops, tablets and desktop PCs, although in practice it will usually be laptops. When purchasing, the government pays attention to the working conditions in the production and durability of the devices and the memorandum mentions, among other things, the refurbishing of depreciated hardware as a possibility.
In response to the corona crisis, the Flemish government already started the ‘Digital for Youth’ laptop project last year and subsidized the purchase of 15,000 new laptops for vulnerable children of the second and third grade of secondary education. Other plans that the minister has to improve the quality of digital education are to provide teachers with better support with ICT equipment, to provide better infrastructure in schools with regard to internet and software, and to update knowledge and expertise about cybersecurity.
The plans refer to the results of an ICT monitor from 2018, which showed that a large part of the ICT infrastructure in schools is outdated. In primary education, 57 percent of desktops and laptops were older than four years. In secondary education, this was one third of desktops and laptops.