Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says that the final batch of tablets procured for students under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) has arrived in the island and will be distributed shortly.
She noted that of the 40,000 tablets procured, approximately 36,000 have already been disbursed to pupils in grades four, five and six.
The distribution exercise is being undertaken by the Education Ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, through its agency, e-Learning Jamaica.
She noted, as well, that the 15,000 laptops, which the Government purchased for PATH students in grades 10 to 13 in high schools, will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
The Minister was speaking at the handover of 26 tablets, valued at more than $1 million, by the Kiwanis Club of South St. Catherine to the Gregory Park Primary School in Portmore, St. Catherine, on Wednesday (February 24).
Ms. Williams noted that the provision of electronic devices for students is important, as technology has now become a vital part of the education system due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and it is going to remain a permanent part of the teaching and learning experience.
“It’s almost been a year now since most of our students have been at home. We were able to pivot very quickly to our children using the Google Suite Learning Management System,” she said.
She noted, however, that the focus is not only on PATH students, pointing out that through the Government’s ‘Own your Own Device’ programme, 36,000 families are being given $20,000 towards the purchase of a tablet or laptop.
Private individuals and organisations are encouraged to make donations under the ‘One Laptop or Tablet per Child’ initiative.
The Minister thanked the Kiwanis Club of South St. Catherine for “stepping forward with your donation of tablets to Gregory Park Primary School”.
“It is the benevolence of societies such as the Kiwanis Club of South St. Catherine that will help us to reach the goal of ensuring that all of our students, all across Jamaica have a device in their hand,” she said.
Ms. Williams encouraged the students to take care of the devices and to use them for the purpose they were given, which is to enable their continued educational development.
“Cherish them. You are going to have them through… school, through different grades. With those devices and connectivity, you can travel the world, you can learn about cultures in other countries. You can explore different subject areas, different languages. There is no end to what you will be able to learn if you use those devices as your educational tool,” she pointed out.
In his remarks, Minister of State in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, and Member of Parliament for East Central St. Catherine, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, reiterated the importance of students having access to the requisite technology to continue their education.
He expressed gratitude to the Kiwanis Club of South St. Catherine for demonstrating good corporate social responsibility through “this most generous donation,” and also thanked the National Commercial Bank, which had previously donated 90 tablets to the school.
Meanwhile, Past Presidents’ Council Chair, Kiwanis Club of South St. Catherine, Dione Chambers, said that body is happy to make the donation.
“We know that we have to play our part and we will continue to give support to this and other schools towards improving the lives of one child, one community at a time,” she said.
The school’s principal, Richard Williams, said that the devices will “give a significant boost to our remote learning and online school”.
He noted that the beneficiaries were chosen mainly from grades one to three.