The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is reporting that as of May 17, there were 34,058 applicants for the Own Your Own Device (OYOD) initiative, with approximately 24,000 vouchers issued.


In addition, approximately 13,337 parents/guardians have redeemed their vouchers at the various approved vendors valued at $226,740,000, representing approximately 32 per cent of the allocated funding.


Portfolio Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, gave the update in a statement in the House of Representatives on May 19.


She said that the Government has provided $720 million to the OYOD initiative, which grants students who do not benefit under the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) the opportunity to access a $20,000 voucher to purchase a tablet or laptop from an approved vendor.


Mrs. Williams informed that the Ministry made the decision to increase the annual income threshold for the programme from $500,000 to $1,500,000 which has broadened the chances of a parent/guardian being deemed eligible for the incentive.


She said that 24,437 applicants have been approved and 5,287 applications did not meet the criteria, which is based on the scoring rubric, Tax Administration of Jamaica (TAJ) income verification and National Student Registration System (NSRS).


“We are processing 1,614 applicants right now and they are being issued with vouchers. A total of 1,836 applications are under review due to TAJ income discrepancies and 34 applicants have been placed for consideration based on the scoring rubric,” she noted.


The data have shown that in terms of gender distribution, 16,820 males and 17,238 female students have applied for the incentive.


The parish distribution shows that the majority of the applications were made in St. Catherine, St. Ann, Kingston and St. Andrew.


The top schools in which students have benefited are Marlie Mount Primary and Infant, Southborough Primary and St. John’s Primary, St. Catherine; Mona Heights Primary, St. Andrew; George Headley Primary and St. Jude’s Primary, Kingston; Barracks Road Primary, St. James; Mandeville Primary and Junior High, Manchester; and Ocho Rios Primary and Ocho Rios High, St. Ann.


“The demand for devices is very evident and the data show that 13,173 applicants have used the incentive to purchase a tablet, while 164 applicants used the funds towards the purchase of a laptop,” Mrs. Williams said.


Meanwhile, the Education Minister said that after careful consideration, the Ministry has taken the decision to pause and assess the OYOD programme to better serve all stakeholders.


“We will reopen it in short order… in about a week or so. This is just allowing us to ensure that we look at those that were being denied and we ensure that they were rightly so denied,” the Education Minister said.