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More than 200,000 devices ‘in the process of being delivered’ to pupils

The SNP had a manifesto commitment for free laptops (Peter Byrne/PA)
The SNP had a manifesto commitment for free laptops (Peter Byrne/PA)

Almost 280,000 laptops or devices “have been or are in the process of being distributed” to pupils, a minister has said.

Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said more than 72,000 free laptops and devices have been delivered to school pupils in Scotland so far.

In the run-up to last year’s Holyrood election, the SNP promised every school child a free laptop or device and a free internet connection.

At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser asked the minister for an update on progress to deliver the devices.

Exam results in Scotland
Scottish Education Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville discussed the number of laptops being distributed to schoolchildren (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ms Somerville said: “We are committed to ensuring every child has access to a device and connectivity by the end of this parliamentary term.

“We’ve already provided £25 million to councils resulting in over 72,000 pupils receiving a device and 14,000 receiving an internet connection.

“We know that a number of local authorities have also invested in technology and they have indicated that in total almost 280,000 devices have been or are in the process of being distributed to learners.”

She said the commitment for free laptops and devices was “complex and ambitious” and councils are currently looking at school infrastructure to support the roll-out of the new technology.

Mr Fraser said pupils who are currently in S2 or S3 would leave school without benefiting from the programme, as it was not due to be completed until the end of the current session of the Scottish Parliament.

He asked: “Is the Cabinet Secretary serious in saying we’re going to have to wait another four years before this commitment is delivered?”

Ms Somerville said the SNP manifesto had been clear that the commitment was for the parliamentary term, and the Tory manifesto at the local elections had no commitment for a device for every child.

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