Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, is urging stakeholders in the education sector to embrace technology as a permanent feature of the academic environment.
Pointing to the Ministry’s two-week E-COVID face-to-face pilot programme which will see 17 schools in nine parishes resume face-to-face classes from November 9 to 20, Mrs. Williams said beyond the resumption of face to face learning which is conditioned on the success of the pilot programme, the government is committed to creating a more robust technology infrastructure in the delivery of education.
“Even if we open all schools and we go back to face to face learning, technology in schools is permanent. It is here to stay. It is going to enrich the classroom experience,” the Education Minister said.
“We at the Ministry are excited and happy to be leading the technology roll out in the education sector. It is good for Jamaica as we move the (country) to become a more digitally enabled society,” she added.
The Minister was speaking during the handover of 150 tablets to the Harbour View Primary School in St. Andrew on Friday (October 30). Eighty four devices were also handed over to the St. Benedict’s Primary School.
Some 40,000 tablets are being distributed by e-Learning Jamaica (e-LJam) Limited under the Government’s Tablets in Schools Programme.
It is targeted at students in grades four to six to support virtual learning for students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
In her remarks at the ceremony, Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, the Most Hon. Juliet Holness appealed to the private sector to support the Government’s initiative to equip needy students, particularly those from rural communities, with the necessary facilities to support online learning.
“Our rural children are very often from families that are not able to afford it. In whatever way you can please make a contribution …so that we can get every student equipped with a tablet,” she said.
Chief Executive Officer, e-LJam, Keith Smith said the entity has so far distributed just over 20,000 devices and should complete the distribution of 40,000 tablets shortly. Each device is valued at US$165.
“We at e-learning are proud to be part of this programme. I encourage the students and teachers to keep and care these tablets. This is a significant investment by the Government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Principal of Harbour View Primary, Lawrence Wright expressed gratitude for the donation noting that “the occasion is significant because we have 150 students who now have access to online learning.”
“That is a big improvement. They will now join the millions of students across the world who are engaged in online learning. With the device, they will be able to overcome some of the learning challenges,” he said.