LISBON, Sept 23 Portugal's Socialist government
began the roll-out on Tuesday of 500,000 ultra-cheap laptops for
school children in a programme that could be extended to
Venezuela, the government said.
The computers called 'Magellan' after the 16th-century
Portuguese explorer will use Intel (INTC.O) processors and will
be offered to schools at a subsidised price of 50 euros.
The government hopes the Magellan will boost the computer
literacy of school children aged 6 to 11, it said in a
"The government's educational technology plan aims to make
Portugal one of the top five most technologically advanced
countries in Europe," it said.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates and members of his cabinet
handed out the first 5,000 computers at schools across the
country on Tuesday.
Portugal has some of the lowest school achievement levels in
western Europe and Socrates has made boosting education a key
priority. The government hopes the Magellan project will raise
computer access at schools to two students per computer by 2010,
up from five this year.
While the computer will be assembled in Portugal by a
company called JP Sa Couto, it is based on Intel's Classmate PC,
a cheap computer that has been adopted in various formats in
countries such as Brazil and Indonesia.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has visited Portugal
several times in the past year and is due in Lisbon later this
week, has said the Magellan could also be used in Venezuelan
The computers will also go on public sale this week for 285
(Reporting by Axel Bugge; Editing by Dominic Evans)