MONTEVIDEO – Retirees in Uruguay are applying to receive one of the 30,000 tablet computers the government plans to distribute at no cost as part of a plan to end the digital exclusion of people over 65.
The $7 million Ibirapita Program, the fulfillment of a campaign promise made last year by President Tabare Vazquez, aims to distribute roughly 350,000 tablets over the next five years to retirees with incomes of less than 24,416 pesos ($840) a month.
The period to apply for one of the first 30,000 portable computers started Monday and the first devices will be delivered by late September.
The Haier and Blu tablets have eight-inch screens, front and rear cameras, an HDMI slot, as well as mini USB and micro SD ports.
The devices will be distributed with apps for scheduling medications and doctor’s appointments, completing government procedures, entertainment and social networks.
The Ibirapita Program provides free installation of Internet service for retirees who need it and covers the monthly payments, Norma Duque, vice president of the Pensioners and Retirees Association in the southern town of Tala, told EFE.
Recipients will not be allowed to sell the tablets or pass them on to other people, and a monitoring system is being developed to follow up on participants’ ability to engage in online activities, Ibirapita Program regional coordinator Natalia Ronqui told EFE.
The first batch of 1,000 tablets was distributed on June 19 and, as part of the pilot program, the first training courses for use of the light computers was developed.
“We found very diverse groups,” Ronqui said. “Some recipients had experience with Android through the use of cell phones, and others didn’t have any experience. It was a positive trial and, although it is impossible to cover all tablet functions, we tried to motivate people to use the devices.”
The Ibirapita Program is an extension of the Ceibal Plan launched during Vazquez’s previous term as president from 2005-2010.
The Ceibal Plan distributed a tablet to every student and teacher in public schools, and there are currently some 700,000 portable computers in the hands of teachers and students in Uruguay.
Uruguay, which is home to 3.4 million people, has 139,874 households exclusively formed by retirees and only 24 percent of them have access to a personal computer, official figures show.