The rollout of tablets and laptops to digitally-excluded pupils by the Scottish Government has been branded a “shambles” by Scottish Labour.
The party said the schedule for delivering the devices has been “wildly optimistic”, and it warned better planning is needed to meet the “ambitious” targets.
The Scottish Government announced this week that more than 23,000 iPads and Chromebooks will be sent to low-income families and care leavers as part of the Connecting Scotland programme, which aims to reach around 50,000 digitally-excluded people by the end of 2021.
Ministers faced criticism earlier this year that devices were not being given to pupils quickly enough after around £9 million was spent on 25,000 devices.
Scottish Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: “The SNP can talk a good game but they repeatedly fail to live up to promises. With more school children isolating at home or participating in blended learning, access to tablets or laptops is a vital part of ensuring continued access to learning.
“Online learning support for pupils is still very limited and inconsistent across schools – this must be improved given the amount of young people who need to take time away from the school building during the pandemic.
“Scottish Government commitments to deliver devices have fallen far short of the mark. The projected schedules for delivery were wildly optimistic given the constrictions of the pandemic, and roll-out so far has been a shambles.
“This is no time for self-congratulation. The promise of Chromebooks just fills the gap left by failure on earlier Connecting Scotland targets and better planning is needed if the SNP Government is to fulfil its promises to get digital devices to pupils by the end of the year.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The rollout of our policies for digital inclusion for our young people is progressing well and without delay.
“All local authorities in Scotland have had access to our £25 million investment to address digital exclusion in schools.
“Devices were selected and ordered at an early stage to address emerging supply chain pressures resulting from Covid-19.
“Delivery of Chromebooks began in August and we expect that, in full, the programme will deliver around 70,000 devices for disadvantaged children and young people across Scotland.”