With the change of government, orders returned to produce computers at the local level. How will the first phase of the official program be
Some 13 companies with national capitals will be responsible for supplying with umore than 350,000 computers to the Juana Manso program, continuator of the Connect equality.
These days the details of the proposal are defined, but the companies in a position to start the assembly They have already been notified in order to prepare to face the production processes from June.
The companies involved belong to two chambers. On the one hand, the possible providers of CAMOCA (Argentine Chamber of Multimedia, Office, Communications and Related), and on the other, those of CADIAL (Argentine Chamber of Electronic, Electromechanical and Lighting Industries).
Among the former are Grupo Núcleo, Air, GyP Newtree, Coradir, Newsan, HDC Internacional (Rosario), Jukebox, Stylus, Novatech, Siasa (Sistemas Informáticos Argentinos). In the second group are Exxo, PC Arts and BGH.
All of them already have experience in the provision of educational computer equipment as they were the ones that fed the first years of the Connect equality when it was launched in 2010, and an import substitution process had already begun in this sector.
The Juana Manso plan is the continuity of Connect Equality that reaches the boys of the state secondary schools.
“On Monday we sent the proposal, with delivery times and quantities to be delivered adjusting to the characteristics requested by the Ministry of Education. Basically, it is the same computers that had been delivered although some parts will surely change and instead If machines with a hard disk are delivered, they will have solid state disk (SSD), “he told iProfesional, Carlos Scimone, president of CAMOCA.
The objective of this initiative is, on the one hand, reactivate to the national computer industry, which became very depressed when tariffs on computer imports were eliminated and it was no longer competitive to continue with these processes. On the other, to generate an impact again among young people at the secondary level who, as a result of the suspension of classes, are dropping out of school.
Assembled the first step
Therefore, these first 350,000 pieces of equipment to be produced will be a kind of palliative, from wherever you look at it. The machines will be Assembled from the import of the various parts that compose it. And they will reach only a fraction of the adolescents who attend the state secondary level.
“To react quickly, we agreed with Industry in which this first stage will be assembly, and the second will just incorporate the substitution of parts and pieces as manufacturers are put into the regime, “added the manager who assured that this has both the endorsement of Ariel Schale, Secretary of Industry, Knowledge Economy and External Commercial Management, as well as the Ministers of Development Productivo, Matías Kulfas, from Education, Nicolás Trotta, and the president himself Alberto Fernández.
By 2020, then, the task will be assembly and local production will start in 2021 although the expectation is that this process can begin earlier. Why that forecast? Because according to what Trotta stated in the successive meetings they have held with local producers, the intention is that the plan be extended to 18 months with the possibility of reaching 24 months. Although everything will depend on how it is evolving not only Argentina in relation to the pandemic but also the world.
“China was stopped during this time in which, at the same time, the demand grew due to the need to continue with the work remotely, digital. There is currently a three-month distortion in the parts supply. So we have to wait for the situation to normalize in order to also start local production, “said Scimone.
The world demand is replicated in Argentina, both in education and in particular. The Conectar Igualdad plan was practically discontinued during the government of Mauricio Macri. In CAMOCA they estimate that this decision implied that there is a “hole” of about 2 million computers that should only reach the secondary level.
To this is added the obsolescence of the Argentine computer park which Scimone described on two levels. On the one hand, between 2017 and 2019 “the machines that entered the country for sale were old equipment” and, on the other, “there are some 3 million computers missing in Argentine homes due to the lack of demand for successive crisis”.
“That is why the Juana Manso plan is important. Because it will allow adolescents to reconnect, to bring them closer to school again. And also because it will be a first phase to begin to satisfy the market in general,” said the executive. The expectation is that, from the reactivation to supply the educational system, these same companies can start again local production processes oriented to the domestic market.
Of course, this also requires measures that roll back zero tariffs to the importMeasures that the cameras have been asking for since Alberto Fernández assumed the presidency last December.
In that sense, this Tuesday Schale will receive a formal request from the business organizations for the return of the duty of Mercosur and so that, in addition, new tariff positions are included for parts that need to be imported since it is not possible to face any substitution process on a series of components.
That is why the insistence that manufacturers begin to order the parts they need to start the assembly processes of computers for Juana Manso as soon as the bidding documents are finished.
These specifications provide that companies have access to various facilities so that all companies can participate. The system will be similar to the one that operated in previous years. Economic offers will be received and those interested in becoming State providers will have to match the best price offered.
Distance education and the gap
While these conversations were advancing between the computer manufacturing sector and the Government, the Congress approved last week the education reform that allows distance studies as an alternative in the context of the emergency caused by the coronavirus. This applies to all levels of compulsory education.
The half-sanction to the reform of article 109 of Law 26,206 of National Education will now allow the virtual teaching modality to be enabled for the quarantine time, in this case due to the coronavirus, and also in the event that they occur other exceptional events.
The standard was approved at a time when it was also known that 19.5% of primary school students do not have access to internet, according to a report from the Observario Argentinos por la Educación.
With the return of assembly for education, factories also hope to supply the domestic market.
“It is not only about the modification of an article for a specific situation, but this reform constitutes an action of the State to allow all students in Argentina to have the same rights when learning,” he said during his presentation in the remote session, Blanca Osuna (FDT), president of the education commission of the Lower House.
He added that “it is time to reinstall the programs that the Government of Cambiemos dismantled, such as Conectar Igualdad and the Plan Argentina Conectada that brought millions of children and young people closer to technology and connectivity.”
The connectivity together with the equipment they make up two of the fundamental conditions so that the digital divide does not widen in Argentina. Since the preventive and mandatory social isolation began on March 20 in Argentina, 13 million students of all educational levels in the country, including adults, had to move to a virtual learning system.
The penetration of fixed broadband barely touches 70% of Argentine homes, according to data from the National Communications Agency (Enacom), while the rest supplies part of that lack through mobile internet, which does not mean make it the most optimal tool for virtual learning. It can be used to consume an educational video but hardly to complete a task on a platform.
Hence also the zero cost requests for access to educational portals, that is, they do not consume data from the plans or mobile telephony or fixed broadband. Commitment assumed by telecommunications operators only for official educational portals, such as Seguimos Educando, of the Ministry of Education of the Nation. And that also requires a commitment from decision makers to facilitate connectivity projects, in addition to devices access.
“It is not the poor students who drop out of school but it is the social model of distribution of goods (such as the internet) that abandons them, disconnects them, leaves them without education And the longer the isolation lasts the greater the social and pedagogical damage to children and adolescents. The only way to uproot children from the poorest neighborhoods from educational exclusion during isolation is by connecting them to internet“, said the pedagogue Mariano Narodowski, in the context of the situations that occur in the context of the pandemic and that require rapid actions to prevent even more harmful consequences.