Published On: August 5, 2015

Free Computers for the Retired in Uruguay

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Brazil’s neighbor, Uruguay, has formulated a unique plan to bring retired citizens into the world of computers. Because the digital revolution only arrived in the past few years in Latin America, retirees do not have the natural familiarity with the Internet and computers that younger people have. As a result, the government of Uruguay is giving away 30,000 tablets.

The initiative is called the Ibirapita Program, and represents a U$7 million fulfillment of a campaign promise made last year by President Tabaré Vázquez. The ultimate goal of the program is to distribute roughly 350,000 tablets over the next five years to retirees with incomes of less than 24,416 pesos (2700 reais) a month.

The Ibirapita Program is an extension of the Ceibal Plan launched during Vázquez’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.

Dr. Tabare Vazquez, President of Uruguay

Dr. Tabaré Vázquez, President of Uruguay

Retirees in Uruguay are now applying to receive one of the tablet computers the government plans to distribute at no cost to people over 65. The period to apply for the tablets started this month 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. Also, 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 news agency.

 

 

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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 said.

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 Androids 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.”

Uruguay has a total population of 3.4 million people, not much larger than metropolitan Curitiba. There are 139,874 households exclusively formed by retirees and only 24 percent of them have access to a personal computer.

 

 

[This article comes from the EFE news agency.]

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