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  • Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says the Ministry will continue to introduce age appropriate learning technology in schools islandwide, including smart boards, tablet computers, virtual education, among others.
  • This, he said, is being undertaken in a bid to enhance and complement teaching methods in schools.
  • On virtual education, the Minister said the initiative, dubbed education broadcasting network (EBN), will deliver programmes for early childhood, primary and secondary school students.

Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, says the Ministry will continue to introduce age appropriate learning technology in schools islandwide, including smart boards, tablet computers, virtual education, among others.

This, he said, is being undertaken in a bid to enhance and complement teaching methods in schools.

Rev. Thwaites was speaking at the official opening of an enrichment centre at the Central Branch All Age School in Kingston, on April 21. The centre falls under an ongoing US$1.9 million enrichment programme between Digicel Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which commenced in 2013.

On virtual education, the Minister said the initiative, dubbed education broadcasting network (EBN), will deliver programmes for early childhood, primary and secondary school students.

“The EBN material is now being distributed via 20 cable channels that carry Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) programmes. LOVE TV and JET TV are also carrying heavy dosage of educational material. You can get the best extra lesson for free on the media these days,” he said.

The materials include review exercises and quizzes relating to the grade four literacy and numeracy test as well as the grade six achievement test (GSAT).

Under the initiative, the Ministry is collaborating with the Universal Service Fund (USF) to afford content, appropriate to the new curriculum and the development of the character of the Jamaican youth.

The Minister urged students to make the best use of the investment being offered to them, as “education is the only legitimate means of upward mobility in the island.”

Lauding the initiative, he commended the partnership between Digicel Foundation and the USAID, noting that it will assist in implementing information and communications technology (ICTs) in schools.

“This is the stuff that will make young people have the knowledge base that will carry them anywhere in the world. Nobody can take away the skills and competence that they will get from the enrichment room experience. This is a permanent asset to all of us and all who will receive it,” he said.

For his part, Chief Executive Officer, Digicel Jamaica, David Butler, informed since the programme started, a total of 97 schools with an enrolment of 37,000 students are  now implementing the Enrichment Programme with assistance from USAID.

“Partner schools have also received important teaching and learning resources, including 16,000 supplementary reading books as well as professional development for over 175 teachers,” he said.

He noted that to date, 231 primary schools across the island are benefiting from the enrichment programme. “Over the next year, the Foundation hopes to establish an additional seven schools, taking our USAID agreement total to 104 primary schools. We anticipate that by the end of 2016, over 40,000 students will be accessing resources made possible through this partnership,” Mr. Butler said.

In her remarks, Mission Director, USAID, Jamaica, Denise Herbol, said partnerships such as these are crucial in assisting the country’s children to excel.

“Parent and teacher partnerships, public and private sector partnerships, local and international partnerships making these connections are crucial,” she said.

Ms. Herbol commended Digicel Foundation for meeting and exceeding its target originally envisaged under the programme.