Parties offer pupils tablets if they gain power

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BOTH parties seeking election in Malta have pledged to give schoolchildren iPad-style computers if they win power.

Yesterday. the opposition Labour party promised tablet PCs for every eight-year-old pupil. Two hours later, prime minister Lawrence Gonzi unveiled his Nationalist party manifesto including plans to give every pupil between five and 16 a tablet

Bloggers in the eurozone’s smallest country lampooned the politicians’ largesse, likening the parties to both Father Christmas and Moses, the biblical figure who brought the word of God inscribed on tablets of stone.

Mr Gonzi said his government had already given laptops to all teachers and put computerised whiteboards into all classrooms. Giving tablets to all children was the next logical step, he said, adding that pupils would in future use digital textbooks.

Labour leader Joseph Muscat said: “Tablets are key to fighting IT illiteracy.”

Both parties said they planned to use private-sector partners to deliver the computers. Mr Muscat said his plans would cost €1.5 million (£1.2m) while Mr Gonzi said costings would be announced in the coming days.

The general election will be held on 9 March, with Labourleading the Nationalists by ten points in polls.