Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has met with Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt to discuss cooperation between the government and the world's number one Internet and software company with regards to a major education project that requires the procurement of millions of tablet PCs.
During the meeting, which was held on Saturday at the Prime Ministry's Dolmabahçe office in İstanbul, Erdoğan briefed Schmidt on the Movement to Increase Opportunities and Technology (FATİH) project. In return, Schmidt told Erdoğan that Turkey is a highly important market for Google. Schmidt also said the country could unveil its real economic growth potential by investing in the field of information technology.
The FATİH project, which is expected to cost about TL 3 billion, represents the largest single allocation of resources to education in the history of modern Turkey. As a result of the project, textbooks will be eliminated because students will access course materials using their tablet PCs.
Undertaken by the Ministry of Education and supported by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the giant project is expected, once finalized, to be in use in 570,000 classrooms in 42,000 schools around Turkey.
According to government plans, teachers will be able to instantly access any document they may need for their class and project it onto an interactive smart board. The project will also facilitate long-distance learning programs while encouraging a gradual transition to e-textbooks and other electronic-learning materials for every class.
In the second component of the project, 110 in-service training centers will be connected to each other through a network that covers Turkey's 81 provinces for the purposes of training educators, who will be able to interact with each other live through teleconferencing.
The last component is the establishment of a secure network infrastructure to connect schools across the country.
Major tablet PC producers as well as leading software corporations are interested in taking part in the project. Erdoğan's government is, however, seeking more than procuring a large number of expensive technological devices for the country's future generations. It says the company which wins the tender for the FATİH project will be required to procure 40 percent of all of its components from within Turkey during the first year of the project.
Speaking on a TV program on Feb. 21, Science, Industry and Technology Minister Nihat Ergün said the domestic procurement clause in the tender will oblige the winning company to increase this proportion to 60 and 80 percent in the second and third years of production, respectively.