MONTEVIDEO – More than 20,000 retirees have signed up to receive one of the 30,000 tablet computers that Uruguay’s government plans to distribute this year as part of the Ibirapita Program, a project created by President Tabare Vazquez to help the elderly acquire digital skills.
The top two cities in terms of registrations are Maldonado, with 3,060, and San Jose, with 2,396, the Office of the President said, adding that the two cities hit their 2015 goals.
People are already being registered for 2016, officials said.
A total of 20,062 retirees have registered for the program, which calls for distributing 30,000 tablets before the end of the year to people living in cities in 11 of Uruguay’s 19 provinces.
The goal is to distribute tablets to 350,000 elderly people by 2020.
The $7 million Ibirapita Program, the fulfillment of a campaign promise made last year by Vazquez, aims to distribute tablets to retirees with incomes of less than 24,416 pesos ($840) a month, providing them with classes to learn how to use the devices.
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 forms, entertainment and social networks.
The Ibirapita Program provides free installation of Internet service for retirees who need it and covers the monthly payments.
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 were developed.
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 formed by retirees and only 24 percent of them have access to a personal computer, official figures show.