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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nation's Schools to Get PCs, Internet

Itar-TassAccording to the ministry's plan, some 90,000 computers will be delivered to 10,000 schools located throughout the country.
If the Education Ministry has its way, by the autumn of this year, every child in every school in every village in the country will have access to a personal computer and the Internet.

On Feb. 28, the ministry will announce an open tender to install the computers, the second part of a nationwide project that is part of the broader Children of Russia program under the aegis of President Vladimir Putin and the Education Ministry.

The first stage, which came to a close earlier this year, saw the installation of more than 56,500 computers and 9,000 printers in 30,700 village schools in all seven federal districts. Now the rest of the nation's schools are to be accommodated.

Equipment will be purchased for 10,000 schools, Irina Kuznetsova, the director of the Children of Russia program, said last week at the Infobiznez-2002 conference in Moscow.

The deliveries will include 90,000 computers and 6,000 to 8,000 pieces of additional equipment such as modems, printers and software. The equipment will carry a two-year guarantee.

Unlike the first stage, when each school received only one or two computers, schools will receive enough to organize entire computer classes.

Contracts with tender winners will be signed before May 20 and deliveries must be completed by October.

Russian companies Kraftvei IVK, Krok and Dell Systems of the United States won the first tender to install computers. The project was financed with 1 billion rubles ($32.4 million) from the federal budget and 1 billion rubles from the regions.

Contracts have been prepared for the second stage, and later, a separate program will be announced for supplying educational software and telecommunications support.

However, because of limited funds, Internet access will not be fully available, Kuznetsova said.

The total budget for the project is around 2.5 billion rubles -- 1 billion rubles from the federal budget, 750 million rubles from the regions and another 750 million from municipal budgets, sponsors and the schools themselves.

Last year's participants learned a great deal from the first stage.

"No one had encountered this kind of project in the past," said Alexei Kudryavtsev, general director of Kraftvei, which installed computers in the Far East and Siberia. Receiving the government funds was not a problem last year, he said, but participants should expect some delay.

"This [project] is not simple from the point of view of implementation. ... We offered a highly competitive price," said Ilya Zvonov, general director with OKI Europe Ltd., which delivered thousands of printers to five federal districts.

All of last year's participants acknowledged that they had problems servicing broken equipment -- in particular because the schools did not know how to have it repaired. Some schoolteachers were ready to catch a plane and take their broken computer straight to Moscow, while others wrote letters of complaint to the Education Ministry and the president.

Repairs weren't the only problem with the first stage. Before the tender was held, three IT companies -- Sun Microsystems, Apple Computer and Russian company Arsenal -- complained that the Education Ministry had chosen Microsoft as the software supplier without considering similar products.