Students at the Fruitful Vale Primary School in Portland recently benefitted from a donation of more than 50 tablets pre-loaded with 25GB data plans which will give the school’s online learning and teaching programme a well-needed boost.
The Office of the Governor General, past students of the school and the Flow Foundation collaborated on the donation which falls under the ‘I Believe’ Initiative (IBI) – an element of the Governor General’s Programme of Excellence which is built on the pillars of family, youth and education.
In his comments during the handover ceremony at the school, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen, a past student of Fruitful Vale Primary said: “Today’s activity is just one phase of the ‘I Believe’ Initiative’s technology drive. This started in 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when a lot of students were significantly affected by the restrictions of online learning. The technological devices donated through the IBI are made possible through the generous support of corporate sponsors and other stakeholders. Our nation’s children are our greatest investment. They are undeniably the future of this country and we each have a role to play in maximising their potential.”
The donation to Fruitful Vale Primary was coordinated by the past students.
June Isaacs, past students’ representative and a strong advocate for the continued improvement of the school, shared that the challenges faced by the students since the onset of the pandemic led to the decision to purchase tablets for the school.
Isaacs said: “When we [past students] bought the tablets, I immediately began thinking of how we could get some more. I knew the governor general was a past student and so I reached out to his office. I was so elated when I got the news that my request was approved.”
She continued: “I cannot begin to describe how I felt when I saw the students’ reactions. I was so overwhelmed by the joy they expressed knowing that they were getting tablets to help with their online schooling.”
With the implementation of online schooling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the school of 147 students, has had approximately 50 per cent of its school population engaged in its online learning programme. The lack of devices is one of the main factors impacting full participation.
Acting Principal Sandra Henry stated that the gesture is well appreciated and necessary.
“It is an investment in the future of Jamaica which will provide these students with the requisite tools to navigate the online teaching and learning environment,” Henry said.
She further shared that she was anticipating a major increase in the number of students participating in online classes as a result of the donation of tablets.
Speaking to Flow’s investment in Portland, including increased LTE sites and connecting more communities to its fibre-fast network, Kayon Mitchell, Flow Foundation’s executive director, also shared that the Foundation had upgraded the free internet service it provides to several schools in the parish.
“We are playing our part in supporting education across the country. Here in Portland, we’ve upgraded the free internet service we provide to Buff Bay Primary, Charles Town Primary, Fair Prospect Primary, Hope Bay All Age, Mt Pleasant All Age, Norwich Primary, Port Antonio Primary, Rock Hall All Age, Seaside Primary, St Margaret’s Bay All Age and Windsor Castle All Age Schools,” she said as she highlighted that the partnership with the Governor General’s Office is a natural extension of the work that the Foundation has been doing.
Mitchell also noted the acceleration of digitalisation across the world and the importance of education as the foundation on which the nation will build and grow. “Here in Jamaica, the pandemic has also fast-tracked the digital transformation of our education system. Now, our educators and students are expected to efficiently function in the virtual space. It is imperative that students are given the tools today so that they can effectively shape tomorrow,” she stated.
The Flow Foundation has had a long-standing history of using technology to support education in Jamaica through various initiatives and partnerships. Since the start of the year, the Foundation has partnered with various organisations to donate tablets and/or data to over 220 students across the country