A total of 100 schools have been equipped with Internet service to support online learning.
Education, Youth and Information Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, made the disclosure at a tablet handover ceremony held on Tuesday (December 8) at the Mona Heights Primary School in St. Andrew.
“The Ministry has taken action to ensure that more of our schools have Internet connectivity. Within the last two months, 100 schools that did not have Internet access now have connectivity,” she noted.
“When we look at the data over the last six weeks that we have been on the online data platform, you can see the numbers growing in terms of the number of students that have been able to come onto the system,” she indicated.
The programme to equip the 100 schools, which were deemed priority institutions by the Ministry, was undertaken through partnership with communications service provider, Readynet Limited.
Mrs. Williams said that discussions are under way with several other vendors to facilitate Internet access for another 135 institutions, noting that “at the end of the day we want all our schools [and communities] to be connected”.
She said that the Government is committed to creating a strong information and communications technology (ICT) ecosystem, which, in addition to Internet service, also involves ensuring that every student has access to a device.
She informed that already, almost 50,000 tablets are in the school system, noting that the number does not include the donations and contributions from individuals and institutions.
“By the time we close the school year, we are expecting that there will be 100,000 tablets in the school system, and that is significant. It means that there are that many more children who have access to the online world to accelerate and enrich their learning with technology,” Minister Williams said.
A total of nine tablets were handed over to Mona Heights Primary under the ‘One Laptop or Tablet per Child’ initiative.
Fve of the devices were donated by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF); three by the Mona School of Business and Management, University of the West Indies (UWI); and one from The Closet Box.
Acting Principal of Mona Heights Primary, Alex Hepburn, expressed gratitude for the devices on behalf of the students who will receive them.
He noted that there are a number of children who do not benefit under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) who need technology devices.
“When we got the call regarding the donation, I was elated. The tablets will make a significant change in the lives of these nine children,” he noted.
TEF Executive Director, Carey Wallace, for his part, said that the donation is “our way of saying, we are investing in the greatest asset of this country – our people”.
Deputy Executive Director and Senior Lecturer, Mona School of Business and Management, Dr. Andrew Spencer, commended the students of the Tourism Management programme, who raised funds to purchase the tablets.
Under the ‘One Laptop or Tablet per Child’ initiative, the Government is calling on Jamaicans to support efforts to put electronic devices in the hands of needy students.