Education
JM | Dec 10, 2020

Jamaican Government commits to equipping students with tablets, laptops

/ Our Today

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Sharon Bailey (front, left) stands proudly with her daughter, grade-six student at Ocho Rios Primary School, Ashley Bailey, while grade-six student Antonio McDuffus (front, second right) stands with his mother, Angelene Palmer. Looking in the back row are
Director of Operations at Sandals Foundation, Karen Zacca (left), Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams (centre), and Sandals Resorts Regional Public Relations Manager Lyndsay Isaacs. They were all participating in the handover of 28 tablets to students at Ocho Rios Primary School, in St. Ann on December 4. (Photo: Contributed)

By Fernando Davis

Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams says the Government is committed to ensuring that students across the island are equipped with a digital device regardless of socioeconomic background.

Williams, who was speaking during a Sandals Foundation handover of tablets at the Ocho Rios Primary School, in St. Ann on December 4, said it was against this background that the ministry was appealing to members of the private sector, including Jamaicans overseas, to assist with the “one tablet or one laptop” per child initiative.

“The education sector, and Jamaica by extension, is on a journey, a digital journey,” the minister explained.

“This journey is to ensure that all our students in the education sector have the skills to operate in the 21st Century. It begins by ensuring that all of them, not some, all of our students, from across Jamaica, wherever they are, whatever their socioeconomic standing, that they have a device, whether a tablet or a laptop.”

PATH BENFICIARIES NOT ONLY STUDENTS IN NEED

Williams said while a lot of emphasis has been placed on prioritising students who are on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), the Government is cognizant that there are others from needy families who have to be considered as well.

“You would have seen that the Government has stepped forward to ensure that our PATH students in grade four, five and six are equipped with tablets and will be making resources available for other grades,” Williams added.

“The next set of distribution that we will do will be for our high school students in grade 10 to 13, also our PATH students with laptops, and then we will circle back to grade seven to nine, again the PATH students there. We are mindful, however, that it is not just the students on PATH that are in need of these devices. There are many, many, students that are not on PATH that are also in need. So this initiative of one tablet per child is a call to corporate Jamaica or wherever you are to come and assist us so we can achieve this dream.”

On December 4, 28 tablets were delivered to the Ocho Rios Primary School to serve grade-six students, who are just above the PATH threshold but whose needs were assessed and determined high priority by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.

Some of the students who are without devices often gather under a tree or at shop and share the use of one device that a particular child may have. This of course puts a lot of students at a disadvantage because these students are at different age levels but of course do not have devices of their own.”

Suzette Barnes Wilson, principal of Ocho Rios Primary School

Suzette Barnes Wilson, principal of Ocho Rios Primary, for her part, welcomed the donation, noting that the tablets will play a big part in the online experience of students.

“Some of the students who are without devices often gather under a tree or at shop and share the use of one device that a particular child may have. This of course puts a lot of students at a disadvantage because these students are at different age levels but of course do not have devices of their own,” she explained.

The donation, Barnes-Wilson continued: “will help empower so many of our students to navigate and be in classes on time while their teachers are online. They will be able to complete their assignments on time and not be left behind.”

Charmaine Daniels, chief executive officer at Digicel Foundation.

Charmaine Daniels, chief executive officer at Digicel Foundation, said it was important that students have the necessary tools at their disposal as they continue to study from home.

“So many of our students are struggling with connectivity and it’s important that we enable them with the right resources to ensure that no one is left behind. This partnership to provide both devices and access to data services is crucial to ensuring that our students are able to continue their education from home. We’re grateful to the Sandals Foundation for partnering with us and we look forward to maintaining this relationship as we work together to build Jamaica,” Daniels noted.

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