The JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation has donated 400 tablets, valued at approximately J$10 million, to schools and organisations across Jamaica to help students to recover from learning loss; due to the interruption of face-to-face classes and the digital divide in online learning, caused by the pandemic.
In an open letter to the government, UNICEF estimates that Jamaica’s children have lost an estimated 1.3 billion in-class hours over 19 months of physical school closures. The learning loss is staggering, and the most vulnerable children who struggle to access remote (online) education have been hit the hardest, stated UNICEF.
Kim Mair, CEO of the foundation shared, “This donation of tablets serves to assist our most vulnerable children to recover from the significant learning loss and to help students to remain connected, even though thankfully, face-to-face classes have resumed.”
“As we help to shape 21st-century learners who are digital natives, we want to ensure that our children have access to the technology and tools to facilitate their growth and development. We hope that technology will remain a part of our educational system and that we build on the opportunities presented during the pandemic in closing the digital divide, by supplementing face-to-face with online methods. This continued integration of technology will better cater to the varying learning styles of students and encourage critical thinking skills and independent learning,” Mair added.
The provision of tablets is in keeping with the foundation’s commitment to develop youth, through education and empower them to unearth their greatness, thereby fulfilling their goals and dreams.
Speaking at the handover of devices, Patricia Duncan-Sutherland, chairman of the JMMB Joan Duncan Foundation notes that the occasion honoured the memory of her mother, the late Joan Duncan, whose purpose was to ensure she added value to those she met and to contribute to the betterment of others.
“We are grateful to have the opportunity to add value to your lives…(by) partnering with parents (and other stakeholders) so that our children can have the best chance in life,” she said during the brief ceremony, where some of the recipients were presented with tablets.
The recent handover ceremony, which took place at Terra Nova Hotel, was held in partnership with the Foundation and Beverley Manley Duncan scholarship organising committee.
Brithney Ramdom, a Dunrobin Primary School student and one of the Beverley Manley Duncan scholars in expressing gratitude said, “I am so happy to have my own device to continue my lessons, which will be done in a hybrid way (at this time).”
Ramdom was previously challenged with sharing a tablet with her older sister, resulting in her missing some classes as they alternated use of the device.
In addition to the Beverley Manley Duncan Foundation scholars who received tablets, students drawn from schools and charitable organisations islandwide were also awarded with tablets to support their learning.
These recipients included students from Vere Technical High, Oracabessa High, Grateful Hill Primary, Godfrey Stewart High, Clarendon College, Lawrence Tavern Primary, Allman Hill Primary & Junior High, Angel Primary, St Mary College, Liberty High, St Catherine High, Charlie Smith High, Old Harbour High, Waterford Primary, Rollington Primary, Jamaica Youth for Christ, Adelphi Primary, Jamaica Association for the Deaf, Portland Charity Fund, and Calvary Baptist Home Work Assistance Programme.
The foundation also provided a one-month data plan to all recipients to facilitate access to the internet.
The donation is a part of the ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Education and Youth through its agency, the National Education Trust (NET) and Junior Achievement Jamaica.
The initiative is aimed at providing 100,000 students with devices to enable full participation in online teaching and learning. This is the second tranche of tablets donated by the foundation towards this initiative, having donated 400 tablets to 32 primary school students in 2021.
The ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative is expected to see technology infused in the teaching and learning experience, in the classroom and outside the classroom, with the ultimate goal being to see improved outcomes in the education sector and move people along, so that Jamaica can become a digital society, outlined the Ministry of Education and Youth. This initiative forms the beginning of the digital journey for Jamaican children towards digital fluency.