Arkansas announces program training students to build computers

Arkansas officials announced a public-private partnership Sept. 11 to create a program to teach its public school students how to build, upgrade, and maintain computers for their schools.

A pilot project involving at least six schools, particularly at rural and poor schools, is to begin in January, run by the state Department of Workforce Education, said Director Steve Franks.

The program will be part of the nationally recognized ExplorNet Technology Learning Project and its computer recycling project.

The project, based in North Carolina, provides computer hardware and training for school instructors to teach students to refurbish older computers provided by private businesses.

“Technology is developing at a dizzying pace, and educators are constantly being challenged to master these changes,” Rep. Shane Broadway, D-Bryant, said. “ExplorNet will help provide our teachers with valuable training and our students with job skills so they can take advantage of the growing number of technology-based jobs.”

The curriculum is based on the computer industry’s standard for computer service technicians, and students who complete the course and attain “A-plus certification” are qualified for jobs as service technicians.

The computers remain at the schools and are maintained by students.

Franks said the pilot will instruct 80-100 students in Arkansas. The agency hopes the program eventually will expand to 35-40 schools involving hundreds of students, he said.