The distribution of 65,000 tablet computers to teachers and students will be completed in this fiscal year, says Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Hon. Fayval Williams.
This was noted by Mrs. Williams during the official ceremony for the distribution of 32 tablet computers to educators at the Hope Valley Experimental School, located at 2-4 University Road, Kingston 7, on July 7.
The initiative falls under the Government’s ‘Tablets in Schools Project’, which aims to provide students, teachers and other stakeholders with the necessary facilities to access technology.
Providing a breakdown of the initiative, Mrs. Williams informed that e-Learning Jamaica (e-Ljam) will complete the distribution of 25,000 tablets under the Tablets for Teachers Programme as well as 40,000 tablets under the Tablets in Infant and Primary Schools Programme, during this financial year.
“Today, we make the connections. Today we inch one step closer to imagining a new Jamaica,” she said.
The Minister explained that in this new Jamaica, her vision is that all Jamaicans will have access to the Internet and all schools will be equipped with the technologies to not just facilitate learning but to also foster innovation and a solid science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for students.
“As we work to build a digital society, information and communications technology (ICT); science, technology and innovation will be crucial pillars in this regard. Our educators, therefore, are integral partners to this process. It is my hope that [these tablet computers] will make your classrooms a richer environment, which will cater to the needs of the 21st century learner,” she said.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Williams said the Ministry is committed to strengthening the technological capacity and infrastructure, so that all students can have access to the
Internet and devices, and enhance learning at every level.
Currently, with an Internet penetration rate of approximately 45 per cent, so many of our students in rural Jamaica or inner cities lack access to the Internet and technological devices, which adversely affects their education, especially at a time when they have to log on to an online platform for classes,” she said.
The Minister said the rollout of the devices will assist in bridging the digital divide and create a digitally inclusive society where no one gets left behind.
“In the digital age, we cannot allow pandemics to disrupt the business of education. The future of our children is too important to not put mechanisms in place to facilitate remote learning,” she added.
Under the Tablets in School rollout progamme, focus will be placed on infant and primary schools, teachers’ colleges, special education schools and State care facilities.
The Tablets for Teachers Programme is part of an agreement between the Government and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) to provide each teacher in public schools with a 10-inch tablet computer as part of their compensation package.
The devices will be for personal use as well as to assist the educators in conducting research and delivering content and lessons in a virtual environment, especially as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has transformed teaching and learning.
The Tablets for Teachers programme involves collaboration among the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology; Ministry of Finance and the Public Service; Ministry of Education, Youth and Information; e-LJam; and the JTA.
An agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, e-LJam is tasked with providing expertise in the management and implementation of innovative technology projects that support the improvement of national learning outcomes while bolstering ICT solutions.