Star - Turkey’s nationwide education initiative that aims to increase the quality of public education through the use of high-tech devices is nearing implementation stage. The tender process for one of the major elements of the billions worth Fatih Project, the procurement of some 11 million tablet PCs to be distributed to elementary school students, will begin on May 27. Turkey’s Ministry of Education will continue to acquire 2 million tablets per year after the initial total as the project progresses.
There has been enormous international interest to the Fatih Project since its inception for its sheer potential is hard to ignore for hardware and software producers. Microsoft, Google, Intel, Apple, Blackberry and many others have previously voiced their eagerness to participate in the project. Among these Apple, Samsung, Intel, Vestel, Arcelik, General Mobile and others that have acquired the tender specifications are expected to be contenders for the project’s main phase that involves supplying millions of tablet PCs to students.
As a tender specification, Turkey seeks local manufacturing of the tablets as to give the local industry maximum cooperation opportunities with the leading names of the ICT world. In addition to increasing the overall quality of education in public schools, the country aims to become an exporter of tablets and other devices in the near future, thanks to the transfer of know-how and production capabilities as a result of the Fatih Project.
The project was also among the key topics of Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to the US last week. Erdogan paid visits to the Silicon Valley offices of Google, Microsoft and Apple where he was briefed on latest technological developments. Erdogan received a special briefing from the Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, on Microsoft’s education software. Microsoft repeatedly expressed willingness to take part in the Fatih Project in its early stages, offering collaboration with Turkish companies and establishing a research and development (R&D) center in Turkey.
Noting that the initial tender of the Fatih Project was about to take place soon, the Prime Minister said that Turkey’s own specialized zone that will cluster ICT companies engaged in R&D of software, hardware and robotics, is underway. “We aim to establish a technopark in Istanbul that will resemble the Silicon Valley with its concentration of ICT companies,” said Erdogan, adding that the Fatih Project is an important step towards the realization of this vision. “Within the first phase of the Fatih Project, some 11 million tablets will be produced. This is to be followed by 2 million tablets per year for the duration of the project. Young minds and engineers from Turkey will take active part in the R&D efforts as a result of partnerships between Turkish and foreign companies during the implementation of the Fatih Project”, Erdogan remarked.
Estimated to cost around USD 7 billion, the Fatih Project will involve millions of primary education students, 600,000 classrooms and 40,000 public schools throughout Turkey.