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Minister of Education and Youth, Maxine Henry Wilson, has said that the government was committed to ensuring that every child left the education system with good grades and a combination of life skills that would allow them to be good employable citizens.
Mrs. Henry Wilson, who was speaking at the launch of free Internet service to public schools, by new telecommunications entrant Flow, yesterday (Nov. 16) at Kingston High School, noted that the continued and increasing use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT), including the Internet, was critical to achieving these objectives.
“Simply put, we want our children to be more excited about learning, and we have also through research, found that our boys do better in that kind of environment too. So our classrooms will become doorways to new ideas and technologies and promote innovative thoughts, practices and systems,” she stated.
The Education Minister stressed that one sure way in which young persons could be assisted to excel and enhance their talents, was through the use of technology as, “through integrating technology, you are able to determine the ability of our students. Technology allows you to integrate various media so that each child can learn at his/her pace and can enhance his/her special talent”.
“That is why we are in a public/private partnership to create the E-learning project. Work has begun in 128 schools that have been selected as pilot projects. During the course of this year, we will begin retrofitting those schools,” she informed, adding that among the goals of that project were to improve the quality of education, not just through teaching, but by enhancing the learning experience.
Also, she pointed out, when this kind of infrastructure was established in schools, parents would become a part of the learning process. “They also want to access that exciting new technology. Our communities will become more connected to markets, new knowledge.our communities will become part of our schools and our schools will become the beacon of learning as we want them to be”.
Mrs. Henry Wilson commended Flow, for what she said was a bold commitment, particularly with the inclusion of inner city-based institutions, such as Kingston High.
“The launch of the project deepens my hope for public private partnership, which is an integral part of our education system. In recent times, we have had greater involvement of important segments of the private sector. We want to reaffirm our recognition that the education system will only be able to achieve and sustain excellence if we are able to have real and enduring partnerships with other stakeholders, including our private sector,” Minister Henry Wilson said.
She added that partnerships did not only include financial assistance but also mentoring, through the presence of executives as role models, who could share their positive life experiences. Mrs. Henry Wilson pointed out that the free Internet project would assist the Ministry in its goal of creating a globally competitive workforce.
The aim of the Flow initiative is to provide all public secondary schools with ultra high speed broadband Internet service free, wherever the company offers its service. Kingston High is among the first seven schools to receive the service. The others are Donald Quarrie High, New Day Primary and Junior High, Ardenne High, Mona High, Campion High, and St. Andrew High School for Girls.
“We are currently doing installations in several other schools”, said Flow’s Director of Marketing, Jean McPherson.
She further disclosed that, “as we roll out to other communities, the schools within those zones will receive the service. Quite apart from offering Internet access to schools, we intend to build a mutually beneficial relationship with all schools, and make presentations on communications technology, on an ongoing basis.”