Military units at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, are helping the island’s elementary and secondary students brush up their computer skills.

Since October, the Air Force at Andersen has donated more than 100 computers to six schools through a Defense Department program that lets government organizations transfer “information technology assets” to public and private schools.

The Department of Defense Computer For Learning program is authorized by presidential executive order.

Guam schools are benefiting from widespread computer upgrades at Andersen as base organizations try to keep up with technology, said Jane Sasai, the base equipment control officer.

She said that in the past two years, faster models have replaced about 300 computers throughout the base, potentially freeing them for distribution to schools.

A school can qualify for unwanted computers by registering on the DOD Computer For Learning Web site. The equipment can be donated if another Air Force unit doesn’t need it and the hardware still works, officials said. Before going to a school, the computer’s hard drive is “scrubbed” clean with special software, they said.

This fiscal year, Andersen organizations donated 113 computers, 113 monitors and seven printers to local schools, officials said.

Sasai said each computer is worth about $800 and each monitor, $150 — meaning the Air Force has funneled more than $100,000 worth of computer hardware into Guam schools.

“Any chance we have to give back to the community, we’re happy,” said Maj. Chris Parent, commander of 22nd Space Operations Command, Detachment 5.

The unit on Monday gave eight computers, 12 monitors and three laser printers to Pedro C. Lujan Elementary School.

Parent said the Pentium 200s are “relatively slow” and unable to network with the latest software applications.

The elementary school’s administrative assistant, Marissa Castro, said the computers either will be placed in the classrooms or used to create a computer lab in the library. The school already has 75 computers acquired through a grant — too few for its 504 students, Castro said.

“We’re really excited,” she said of the Air Force donation.

Monday’s donation came on the heels of a similar gesture by Andersen’s 36th Medical Group, which recently gave 18 computers to Vicente Benavente Middle School. The donation has motivated eighth-graders there to build a computer room, according to the Pacific Daily News newspaper.

Computers for the classroom are especially needed on Guam, Sasai said: “Financially, the government of Guam is in dire need of money.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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