The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) has received 1,500 tablet computers from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to support online learning of children in State care.


The devices, which have been donated under the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s ‘One Laptop or Tablet per Child Initiative’, were handed over during the Transitional Living Programme for Children in State Care (TLP-CSC) ceremony, held at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Regional Headquarters in Kingston, on Wednesday (December 16).


A 16-seat Toyota Hiace bus has also been donated to the CPFSA by the USAID, to transport children in State care. This is the fourth vehicle donated by the USAID to the CPFSA.


The bus will be handed over to Muirton Boys’ Home for children with mild intellectual disabilities.


Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, in her address at the ceremony, thanked the USAID for the generous donation, which, she said, will assist in improving the outcomes of these vulnerable children.


“Thank you for hearing our appeal in terms of the donation of the tablets. Our appeal is simply this – one laptop or tablet per child across the education system in Jamaica. It is our mandate to eliminate the digital divide,” she said.


Noting the significant contributions of the USAID to the TLP-CSC project, Mrs. Williams thanked the agency for its support of the project, which she noted, has positively impacted an estimated 1,000 children in State care who are making the transition to independent living.


“We are celebrating the successful completion of the programme and we are also looking forward to the continuation of the project, despite USAID exiting the programme at this point,” the Minister added.


Recognising the threat to equity in the education sector caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Country Representative, USAID, Jason Fraser, applauded the efforts of the Ministry in equipping marginalised groups with the necessary resources to enrich their learning experience.


“We believe that this initiative at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic is an innovative and timely response to dealing with the achievement gaps that some communities in Jamaica face due to the lack of technological resources. We are pleased to hand over these devices to further this initiative…We all want to ensure that the children in State care have access to education in these trying times,” Mr. Fraser said.


For her part, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), CPFSA, Rosalee Gage Gray expressed her gratitude for the donation.


“School has gone online, so this is going to be a significant input into our efforts to keep the children connected to the learning environment,” she said.