The government of Macedonia announced today that it was the first Balkan country to deploy a major 1:1 computing effort, deploying 53,000 Classmate PCs to all of the country's first through third graders. Perhaps just as importantly, the program also provides all 22,000 teachers in grades 1-8 with an Asus Eee PC and extensive professional development on the use of 1:1 resources in the classroom.
While the Macedonia government is supplying the hardware, according to the company's press release,
Intel's contribution will include training 1,000 teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum, localizing and licensing teacher training materials, providing teacher guides, and qualifying master trainers for scaling the program throughout Macedonia
As with other Intel Classmate programs, local service providers are rolling out the laptops (this program is using their clamshell design for cost-effectiveness and ruggedness). These Classmates are actually being produced in Serbia by ComTrade, which began selling its Minibook/Coolbook-branded Classmates in April.
According to Intel Spokesperson, Agnes Kwan, "Intel will also support the government in training teachers and providing licensing to the maths & science online curriculum skoool.com" (a partnership between Intel and SMART Technologies).
As early as 2007, Macedonia was piloting innovative technologies in schools when they rolled out 180,000 Edubuntu desktops (at the time, "the largest 'pure' Edubuntu deployment" ever undertaken). Along these lines, all of the new Classmates will be loaded with Ubuntu, after the Edubuntu and other successful Linux-based pilots in the country.