View from Storriefit Mountain

This Easter, few families in Peebles and the Scottish Borders will be celebrating the festive spirit with plenty of food. But what about the many other families that are going hungry not only on Easter but every other day thanks to an ideology from a party that is known to despise the poor and working class citizens of this country? To make matters worse, the Tories are the ruling administration currently in power at Scottish Borders Council with support from Independent Councillors, whose only objective is to favour the rich at the expense of the poor. The Tories have set upon the poorest and the most vulnerable in our society, by massive cuts coming into force from April this year that will tip many families into abject poverty and debt.

So! Why am I upset and angry? iPad’s for all high school pupils in the Borders including P6 & P7’s in the coming years, followed by a ratio of one iPad for every five pupils to P1 – P5 pupils. This vanity project will cost taxpayers £15.7 million over a ten year period and the main beneficiaries are CGI, a corporation that has spread its tentacles across the world with branches in many countries and cities around the globe. A truly corporate beast in every sense of the word. My first question is why was Apple and CGI chosen and not Android systems as these are lot cheaper and more efficient and you are not tied to an Apple ecosystem. What happens when iPad’s are damaged, stolen or lost!

Secondly, many children are living in poverty with no access to good nutritious meals due to the impact of  benefit cuts and low wages in the Borders, so how can pupils learn on a hungry stomach? Pupils are also expected to charge their iPad’s at home before bringing them to school. This also shows the complete lack of knowledge and understanding by Councillors, that many pupils live in homes that have prepaid meters that are very expensive to run and disproportionately targets the most vulnerable in our society. So now along with having to choose between heating their homes and eating meals, parents will also have to decide whether they can afford to charge their child’s iPads!

An OECD report in 2015 concluded that investment in computers and iPads in schools does not improve numeracy and literacy skills. Is the current leader of the council Shona Haslam trying to emulate Marie Antoinette, the queen of France who famously said,  “Let them eat cake” upon learning that the peasants had no bread,” by distributing iPads to starving and hungry school children?