As part of Operation #MonOrdiAuLycée, 50,000 French second year students (4th year of secondary school in Quebec) attending public and private regional high schools in the Pays de la Loire region received a brand new laptop computer during the fall. This is an initiative of the region, which thus wishes to promote equity in terms of access to IT equipment.
“Over the past year, we have learned that many high school students can only attend classes remotely from their cell phones. Imagine the challenge for them! The pandemic has highlighted the inequalities between families. We have chosen to help reduce this digital divide, ”Constance Nebbula told us when the École branchée met her in Angers as part of the Connected Week. She is a municipal councilor responsible for digital in Angers and also vice-president of the Regional Council. She herself participated in the distribution of computers in schools, in schools, with many colleagues and the president of the Regional Council.
The implementation of the measure represents a financial investment of some 24 million euros for the Pays de la Loire. In addition, it is planned that the operation will be repeated every year, so that in 3 years, all high school students in this region will be equipped with a computer. Students in the 1st year of the Vocational Aptitude Certificate are also concerned. As the devices belong to the pupils, they will be able to follow them throughout their schooling, and even afterwards.
In fact, the initiative of the Pays de la Loire Region follows the provision of budgetary envelopes intended for the implementation of digital infrastructure projects on the European Union side (a program that had started before pandemic). The Region proposed its project which was selected. Other French regions had already implemented similar measures, including Île-de-France and Brittany.
Note that in France, the regions are responsible for providing resources to high school students. For Quebec, it is a little as if a regional Table of municipal officials chose to buy computers for secondary school students, but we do not have the same administrative structures.
Devices, technical support and resources
Constance Nebbula explains that each computer has been identified with a bar code that is unique to it in order to avoid the resale of the devices. “Obviously, there will always be smart kids trying to do it, but we can spot some on Marketplace or other online platforms. "
More interesting, according to her, a regional technical support service has been set up to support young people and parents in the use of computers. In case of problems, they can communicate with the technicians. Particular attention is paid to the prevention of cybersecurity among families. A usage charter is also signed by the young person and his parents.
In addition, the computers (HP ProBook 440 G8, 14-inch screen, supplied with power cable and protective cover) were equipped with software (including Microsoft's Office suite) and certain educational applications (Audacity, EduPython, GeoGebra, Scratch, Stellarium, etc.). Shortcuts are also available to access a space dedicated to guidance, which includes direct access to the site. Choisirmonstage.fr.
“For us, it was important that these devices contain relevant resources for young people, which will support them in their studies and may become a springboard for some. For example, direct access to educational guidance resources could lead young people to discover new professional possibilities, ”explains Ms. Nebbula.
While the computers were first distributed in an effort to equip families, it is not excluded that students could bring the devices to school. However, for the moment, no measures are planned for teachers or for their use in the classroom. “Such a project should be initiated by the Ministry of National Education. For our part, we make sure that young people can complete their schoolwork from home or attend classes online, as needed. In doing so, we offer better chances of success for young people in the region, ”concludes Ms. Nebbula.
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