JIS News

The Ministry of Commerce, Science and Technology (MCST) has partnered with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture (MOEYC) to provide targeted support to the education sector through increased use of the Internet by students.
The MCST believes that by significantly exposing students in schools to the use of the Internet, they will recognize its importance and encourage parents to acquire computers to gain access to the Internet.
As set out in Ministry paper 56, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on June 1, this focus is in light of the fact that within the context of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Free Trade Areas of the Americas (FTAA) and economic globalization of markets, Jamaica’s survival will be dependent on its ability to accelerate the creation of a highly educated and knowledge-based society. “An educated society is a pre-requisite for international competitiveness and survival in the new global environment,” the paper stated.
This initiative will be driven by an e-Learning project, which is a comprehensive and integrated project anchored in information and communications technology (ICT), to address specific weaknesses within the education sector. Following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the MCST, in collaboration with the MOEYC, conducted research into the challenges being faced by the education sector and a draft feasibility study was done.
The e-Learning Project will focus exclusively on improving the quality of education in 150 high schools. Its primary goal is to contribute to an improvement in the quality of education between grades seven to 11 and will address specific constraints, which adversely impact the quality of education.
These are: lack of a comprehensive set of standard instructional materials for both teachers (especially young and inexperienced teachers) and students; inadequacy of equipment to enhance teaching and learning using modern technologies; lack of a proper Educational Management Information System (EMIS) in the MOEYC to facilitate effective administration of the education sector; low skill level among teachers in the use of certain technologies such as interactive software; inadequate remedial programme at grade seven for weak students; and lack of a standard system of measuring and tracking the performance of students at each grade.
The project is expected to provide a comprehensive set of standard digital instructional materials for teachers and students in 11 subject areas; provide equipment and software to schools to enhance teaching and learning using modern technologies and to institute an Educational Management Information System (EMIS) in the MOEYC to facilitate effective administration of the education sector. Teachers will also be trained to use certain technologies such as interactive software to teach “hard to grasp” topics and to stimulate interest among students, especially boys.
The project will also institute in the high schools, an extensive remedial programme that is based on volunteerism; and institute a standard examination that will measure performance of students in each grade between grades seven to 10.
The e-Learning project, will entail five components that address the stated deficiencies, with component one involving the development of a detailed and comprehensive set of instructional materials in digital format for teachers and students in 11 designated subjects spanning Grades seven to 11.
Under component two, computer laboratories will be provided in each school to teach 11 subjects and each laboratory will house 25 computers. Schools will be equipped with multi-media projectors to facilitate interactive presentations by teachers and all schools would be connected to the Internet.
Also, 100 public libraries will be equipped with computers and connected to the Internet to increase public access. In addition, one interactive education television station known as “Edu-TV” will be established by the MOEYC.
This facility will provide access to a range of educational content. There will also be some 12 non-interactive low-cost cable television channels, which will be dedicated to the transmission of the lecture series mentioned earlier. Each channel will be dedicated to the transmission of the lecture series for one or two subjects.
Under the third component, teachers will be oriented to the new instructional materials and trained in the use of modern technologies with emphasis on interactive computer software and multimedia use. The remedial component will institute an extensive remedial programme based on voluntary inputs and use interactive software to buttress the effort of teachers, especially in the case of the newly upgraded high schools. The programme will rely on high performing students and qualified persons outside the classroom to assist with reading and other areas of weakness. Students who attain a certain average in a subject will be required to assist weaker students as a part of their co-curricular activities. This work would be recorded on their transcripts and would also be an indication of their performance in school.
Meanwhile, under the fifth component the project will institute on a voluntary and phased basis, a standard end-of-year pre-Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) test in the 11 target subjects, to measure performance of students. This exam will be administered at Grades seven to10 and will facilitate the early identification of academic weaknesses among schools so that timely affirmative action can be taken before the children are ready to sit their final exams in grade 11.
Affirmative action could mean the implementation of extensive remedial work among schools with weak students, and the provision of proportionally more resources to those schools to assist them in improving their performance.
The e-Learning project is estimated to cost some US$50 million over three to four years. Funding will come mainly from the universal service obligation levy through the MCST. The levy, which became effective on June 1, requires all telecommunications carriers to pay a service charge of US$0.03 per minute on all incoming international minutes for termination on the fixed wired networks, and US$0.02 on all incoming international minutes for termination on the cellular networks.
This follows a policy decision of the MCST to use resources from the telecommunications sector to improve the quality of education and to increase the demand for access to the Internet and data-related services.
The project will be implemented by a company to be known as e-Learning Jamaica Limited for which Cabinet has already approved the Board of Directors. The project will be implemented over three to four years, with the first year being a pilot phase involving 20 schools. The other 130 schools will be addressed in years two and three.

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