The United States (US) has reinforced its commitment to education and development in Jamaica by donating 300 tablets and 10 laptops to the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information for distribution to students in need, through the One Laptop or Tablet per Child Initiative.


The devices were formally handed over by the Chargé d’Affaires, United States Embassy in Jamaica, John McIntyre, on Tuesday (February 2), at the offices of the Ministry, at Heroes Circle in Kingston.


Some 300 students in grades four, five and six from 10 primary schools will benefit, as they prepare to sit the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations.


The 10 schools that stand to benefit are Trench Town Primary, Hope Valley Experimental, Homestead Primary, Gregory Park Primary, Green Pond Primary, Granville Primary, Negril Primary, Sandy Bay Primary, Lucea Primary, and May Pen Primary.


Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, thanked the US for the donation.


“On behalf of the students, the beneficiary schools and the students within those schools, I’d like to say a big thank you for hearing our appeal under the One Laptop or Tablet per Child Initiative and coming on board to help us,” Mrs. Williams said.


“The education sector across the world has been severely impacted by COVID-19. Jamaica, like any other country, has had to school its children from home remotely, and so we had to get into motion really quickly to ensure that our students have devices [and] that they have connectivity,” she added.


For his part, Mr. McIntyre said the US chose to make this donation to bolster the Government of Jamaica’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


“This includes activities that aid in the adaptation of virtual learning, especially for students with limited access,” he said.


“Today’s assistance builds on US investments in Jamaica of nearly US$619 million over the past 20 years. Our donation of 300 tablets and 10 laptops is part of the more than US$4 million that the United States has provided to Jamaica to counter COVID-19,” he added.


Mr. McIntyre also emphasised that the donation brings the number of tablet and laptop devices donated by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to the One Laptop or Tablet per Child initiative to approximately 2,000.


In December, the USAID handed over tablets to the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) to support children in State care and another 150 tablets to assist vulnerable community college students.