A Hanoi-based company has been accused of providing low-quality tablets for an educational plan in Ho Chi Minh City at prices four to ten times higher than the original.
On August 23, Tuoi Tre (Youth) correspondents inspected a tablet of the Advanced International Joint Stock Company (AIC Group) imported from a Taiwanese company.
The device, named Smart Education, has almost identical technical specifications with the kind of tablet that the AIC Group introduced on August 18 at a seminar held by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Education and Training on a plan to pilot new teaching methods with e-textbooks in elementary schools in the city.
According to the plan, which is for the 2014-2015 academic year, local 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders will study in ‘smart classes’ where traditional textbooks are replaced by modern tablets integrated with e-textbooks.
The plan will be launched at 451 schools in the city in the upcoming school year, which will officially open early next month, if it is approved.
The city’s budget will sponsor tablets for 5,334 disadvantaged students and parents of the remaining number of more than 321,000 have to buy the devices for their kids themselves.
At the seminar, the tablet suggested by the AIC Group for consideration for the plan was announced costing between VND3 million (US$141) and VND5 million ($235) while the Smart Education tablet costs around VND900,000 ($45) and could be discounted to VND500,000 ($23.53) – VND700,000 ($32.95) for massive purchasing.
In addition, the Taiwanese tablet was installed with educational apps for high school subjects including geometry, biology, physics, algebra, chemistry before it was transferred to Vietnam.
Talking about the quality of the tablet from Taiwan, many mobile device traders said it could be a good choice for adults because the handset offers a chance for experimenting with technology equipment at a low price.
However, it should not be used by kids in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades due to the tablet’s fragile plastic frame.
Pham Hong Phuoc, chief editor of the local technology newswire Media Online, said the Smart Education tablet is actually a tablet installed with e-books and is not an educational tool in terms of content or device.
It has a low quality of technical specifications and runs on the old Android 4.2.2 operating system.
In response, leaders of the AIC Group confirmed the Smart Education tablet is indeed the kind of tablet the company orders from Taiwan.
They said the firm only imports the device for internal use and will not sell it to the local market.
The educational apps on the tablet are only for training the company’s staff to get used to information technology.
It is not clear now if the two tablets are the same. Tuoi Tre will keep reporting on this suspicion.