KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has appealed to Vincentian students and their parents to take care of the laptop computer distributed under his government’s one laptop per child programme.

Gonsalves this week said that more than 80 of the computers had to be repaired, mainly because of broken screens.

“I am appealing to parents and students to make sure that we take good care of these laptops,” he said during a media briefing.

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“Even thought they are very sturdy, you just can’t throw down a laptop. You have to handle them with care. There was an extreme care where a parent, negligently, took the laptop into the sea,” Gonsalves further said.

He said that the laptops cost about three times the EC$300 his government charges for their replacement.

“But we had to set the fee not to dissuade people from having a replacement but at the same time not to put it so low that people willy-nilly would not care about whether they are damaged or destroyed,” Gonsalves explained.

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He noted that the computers came to Vincentian students through the generosity of the governments of Portugal and Venezuela.

“We really shouldn’t add to our problems which we are having on an on-going basis on a number of things by being careless with these laptops,” he said.

Gonsalves further announced that his government had made arrangement to purchase Windows software licences for computers for fourth and fifth-formers.

An additional 5,000 laptops arrived in St. Vincent recently and Gonsalves said they would be distributed to first-formers.