Teachers Receive First Set of Computers Under Tablets in Schools Project

Photo: JIS Photographer State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson (right), discusses some of the features of one of the computers acquired under the Government’s $1.4 billion Tablets in Schools pilot project, with Head of Business Services, Digicel Jamaica, Mark Green. The tablets were presented during a symbolic handing over ceremony at Convent of Mercy (Alpha Academy), South Camp Road, Kingston on July 21. A total of 184 tablets were presented to teachers at seven of the participating pilot institutions islandwide.

Story Highlights

  • The first set of computers, earmarked for delivery under the Government’s $1.4 billion Tablets in Schools pilot project, were presented to teachers.
  • The 184 tablets, provided by telecommunications firm, Digicel Jamaica, will be used to facilitate the training of teachers in instructional delivery in their functions and use.
  • Several of the tablets were symbolically presented by e-Learning Jamaica during a brief handing over ceremony at Convent of Mercy (Alpha Academy), South Camp Road, in Kingston.

The first set of computers, earmarked for delivery under the Government’s $1.4 billion Tablets in Schools pilot project, were presented to teachers at seven of the participating institutions islandwide on Monday, July 21.

The 184 tablets, provided by telecommunications firm, Digicel Jamaica, will be used to facilitate the training of teachers in instructional delivery in their functions and use.

Several of the tablets were symbolically presented by e-Learning Jamaica during a brief handing over ceremony at Convent of Mercy (Alpha Academy), South Camp Road, in Kingston.

State Minister for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, said the issuing of the first batch of tablets is a major milestone in the project, which is on target to commence in September.

He said it is important that teachers be trained to become proficient in the tablets’ use, ahead of the programme’s actual roll out, at which time distribution of computers to students will begin.

This is one of several preparatory activities the Government is undertaking as it gets ready for the project’s implementation.

The one-year pilot will be carried out in 38 educational institutions and will see the distribution of tablets to benefit 24,000 students and 1,200 teachers in six pre-primary schools, 13 primary schools, five all age and junior high schools, 12 high schools, one teacher’s college, and one special education institution.

In his contribution to the 2014/15 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 11, Mr. Robinson informed that schools and parents have been sensitized in the use and care of the tablets; a Tablet in Schools Policy Manual has been developed; and teachers have been trained in basic Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills.

He also noted that there has been customised training for teachers on how to utilize tablets in teaching; suitable educational applications to be used on the computers have been identified; and a Public Education and Awareness Campaign has been launched.

“We have very high expectations in terms of the impact that this project will have on both the teachers and students and, in fact, the communities, because each school will become a hotspot and persons in the communities will be able to access the internet if they have devices that are so enabled,” he said.

Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, said the tablets offer an entirely new dimension in education, noting that they bring Jamaican students to global standards by offering them the opportunity to learn through the latest technology.

“Educational opportunities have been uneven in our past. And as this programme rolls out, you will be equating the type of literature, the quality of instruction that’s available to all of our children, irrespective of the school they are in, irrespective of whether they are in school or not, because this is available at home and will eventually be applied to television technology, radio technology, as well as on the tablets,” he said.

Chief Executive Officer of e-Learning Jamaica, Avril Crawford, said the training of teachers will take place between today and the end of July and that “hopefully (we) will finish all 38 schools. The idea is, come September, all the teachers (from the pilot schools) should be trained.”

Digicel is one of four service providers chosen to supply tablets to the project. Ms. Crawford informed that the other providers are PBS, Innovative Solutions, and GeoTech Vision, which will start delivering tablets on July 22.

Contracts totalling $800 million have been signed with those service providers to the supply the tablets. The contracts also include a range of supplies, including devices, accessories, and device management solutions and services, such as tracking and content control.

The initiative also involves the distribution of computers and multimedia devices, including interactive white-boards/projectors, scanners and printers to pre-primary and primary schools. This is in addition to the installation of wi-fi at all 38 educational institutions.

Following a review of the pilot, Tablets in Schools will be rolled out across the island, targeting 600,000 students and teachers.

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