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Six new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) academies are to be developed at the high-school level that will prepare students in the public education system for careers in STEM fields.

This was disclosed by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, as he outlined some of the plans of the Government for the new term, at his swearing-in ceremony held at King’s House on Monday (September 7).

“We will also develop an academy for the creative and the performing arts and we will improve access to financing, so that all our students can have a fair and equal opportunity to access tertiary education,” Mr. Holness said.

The Prime Minister also pledged to improve broadband connectivity in public schools and expand the tablets in schools initiative, starting with the procurement of just over 100,000 for teachers and students, “and then building beyond that number with creative solutions to focus on access for students in need”.

In the meantime, Mr. Holness said the Government is committed to closing the digital divide and to the creation of a digital society, “where technology is woven into the fabric of business and everyday activities, so that it engages and empowers every Jamaican, especially in the context of the pandemic”.

To this end, he informed that all town centres will be serviced with free Wi-Fi, and it will be ensured that community access points have broadband/Wi-Fi access. In addition, all schools will have broadband/Wi-Fi access; and all major public-sector services that require applications will be accessible online.

“We will implement a national identification system, and we are far advanced in this regard, where all Jamaicans will have the opportunity for a robust and secure identification that will improve access to public-sector services,” Mr. Holness said.

The Prime Minister further informed that the Government will build a national broadband network infrastructure, which is uniformed, future proof, resilient, and managed by an independent public-private authority and available to all telecoms players in the market to utilise.

“The network will be appropriately sized to manage Jamaica’s current and expected Internet and information and communications technology (ICT) demand. This will be the new information highway, which will connect and give access to fast and reliable Internet to all Jamaicans anywhere in Jamaica,” he said.

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