Portugal’s Socialist government has begun the roll-out of 500,000 ultra-cheap laptops for school children in a programme that could be extended to Venezuela, the government said.
The computers called ‘Magellan’ after the 16th-century Portuguese explorer will use Intel processors and will be offered to schools at a subsidized price of 50 euros. The government hopes the Magellan will boost the computer literacy of school children aged 6 to 11.
Portugal has some of the lowest school achievement levels in western Europe and Prime Minister Jose Socrates has made boosting education a key priority. The government hopes the Magellan project will raise computer access at schools to two students per computer by 2010, up from five this year.
While the computer will be assembled in Portugal by a company called JP Sa Couto, it is based on Intel’s Classmate PC, a cheap computer that has been adopted in various formats in countries such as Brazil and Indonesia.
The computers will also go on public sale this week for 285 euros.