Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced plans by the Ministry to roll out the Jamaica Schools Administrative System (JSAS) software in over 600 schools islandwide.
This, he said, is to equip administrators with the tools to make informed decisions regarding effective management of, and timely performance measurements at all levels within these institutions.
The JSAS, which was developed by the Ministry with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), assists schools in capturing data on student enrollment, academic performance and behaviour, as well as the scheduling and planning of activities.
Speaking on June 18, at the formal handing over of a computer laboratory at the Penwood High School in Kingston, which was outfitted by the e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited, Mr. Holness expressed concern that while several high schools had been outfitted with the technology, in some cases, they are not being adequately utilised to inform management decisions in the institutions. To this end, he said the Jamaica Schools Administrative System (JSAS) software was developed, and will shortly be rolled out islandwide.
Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness (left), presents Chairman of the Penwood High School Board, Alden Brown, with one of 20 laptops that have been placed in the institution’s computer laboratory by the e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited, symbolising the formal handing over of the facility to the school. The presentation was made during an official handing over ceremony at the school in St. Andrew on June 18, at which the Minister was guest speaker.
“We have decided to deploy this software in 600 schools; all high schools will be required to use this software. We have also selected various primary and junior high schools, and all-age schools as well, to use this software. It is the first step in getting administrators in our education system accustomed to measuring performance,” the Minister said.
Mr. Holness pointed out that the older Version 6 format, which is deployed locally on computers in the schools, will be rolled out first, to facilitate familiarisation with the software over a one year period.
“We will then launch the newer version 7, which is web enabled, which means that the programme will not be resident on the computer. Rather, the schools will need to have internet access, in order to use the software,” he added.
The Minister pointed out that the newer programme format, in addition to benefitting the schools, will facilitate the Ministry’s accessing real time information on developments in the institutions.
Education Minister, Hon. Andrew Holness (right), converses with Principal of the Penwood High School, in St. Andrew, Austin Burrell, during a tour of the institution’s remedial room, following the formal opening of their computer laboratory, on June 18, at which the Minister was guest speaker. Penwood High is the 100th school to be fully equipped with computers and other technological equipment, courtesy of the e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited.
“So, when schools use this software, and they enter data into the computer, the Ministry will be seeing that data in real time. We can then take data from a national perspective, and we will be able to see, through the creation of a dashboard of performance, which schools are doing well in various areas, and which are doing poorly,” Mr. Holness said.
“It means that the time for intervention will be shortened. We don’t have to wait until we go out into the field to capture the data and then analyse, and then plan how to intervene. We would know what is going wrong in real time, and therefore, the time that it would take us to intervene would be shortened,” he added.
The Minister said, in so doing, the Ministry will be able to take the necessary action to effect improvements, where required, “in a far more effective way than we could do before.”
Penwood High School is the 100th secondary institution to be fully outfitted with computer technology by e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited. The school’s laboratory has been furnished with a range of equipment, inclusive of 55 desktop, and 20 laptop computers; scanners; digital cameras; televisions; multi-media projectors and screens. The company has already assisted with the installation of computer laboratories at some 143 schools islandwide.
Mr. Holness informed that the company plans to install laboratories in 180 of the island’s 218 high schools, by August this year. He said that an additional 40 institutions are to be constructed “in the near future”, which the Ministry will be targeting to have outfitted, along with the remaining schools .
The Minister said the Government is cognisant of the need for the installation of computer technology in the island’s 793 public primary schools islandwide, pointing out that “in short order, plans will have to be laid out to determine how this will be done.”
The e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited is an agency of the Office of the Prime Minister, charged with the responsibility of rolling out, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, the e-Learning Jamaica Project in high schools, which utilises Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to enhance the teaching/learning process.