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Education Minister Outlines Benefits of Artificial Intelligence

Education and Youth Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the Ministry is committed to exploring how Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be used to benefit the various educational institutions.

Addressing the seventh Dennis Irvine Lecture, hosted by the University Council of Jamaica (UCJ) under the theme – ‘Artificial Intelligence: A Paradigm Shift for Quality Assurance in Higher Education’, Mrs. Williams urged stakeholders to embrace the possibilities that the technology provides for the sector.

“AI introduces personalised and adaptive approaches that cater to the unique needs of each student and has revolutionised the teaching and learning landscape, as shared by many teachers at the primary and secondary levels. The issue of quality assurance in higher education is fundamental for accreditation standards. AI emerges as a potent tool [with the] potential [to make] substantial improvements in the sector,” she said.

The lecture was held on Thursday (October 19) at the University of the West Indies Regional Headquarters in St. Andrew.

Mrs. Wiliams noted that while AI could usher in a new era of an enhanced overall quality education in Jamaica, ethical considerations with the use of AI remain at the forefront.

“Considering that it is not merely about harnessing technology, but also about its responsible and ethical use, with due respect for the rights and privacy of Jamaican students and educators. We must establish comprehensive policies and regulations that guide the development and usage of AI in education,” the Minister said.

These regulations, she added, should encompass data privacy, algorithm transparency and accountability.

“Transparency should be at the core of AI deployment in education, in making Jamaican students, educators, and stakeholders aware of how AI is being deployed and how it affects their educational experiences. Additionally, we should seek to ensure that AI does not exacerbate existing educational disparities,” she emphasised.

The Minister said steps should be taken to provide equitable access to AI enhanced educational resources and opportunities for all Jamaican students.

“We are already equipping them with devices, broadband connectivity, laptops and labs, so that they have no restrictions. As educators, we must prepare our students for the ever-evolving job market, equipping them with skills knowledge they need to thrive in this new era of technology,” Mrs. Williams said.

The lecture was held in memory of Dr. Dennis Irvine, late Chairman of the UCJ, who was a distinguished educator.

Over the course of more than 50 years, Dr Irvine made significant contributions to tertiary education nationally, regionally, and internationally.

He was appointed Chairman of the UCJ in 1987 and served for an initial 11 years.

The noted educator was reappointed to the position in 1996, and served up to his passing.

Dr. Irvine guided accreditation decisions and played a key role in the transition of the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech) and Northern Caribbean University (NCU) from college to university status.

He also presided over a number of committees, including the Tertiary Articulation Committee which created the tertiary qualifications framework which now serves as the benchmark for the Jamaican tertiary education system.