Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, says the Government is committed to ensuring that students across the island are equipped with a technology device regardless of socio-economic circumstance.
“The education sector, and Jamaica by extension, is on a digital journey. This journey is to ensure that all our students have the skills to operate in the 21st century. It begins by ensuring that all of our students from across Jamaica, wherever they are, whatever their socio-economic standing, that they have a device, whether a tablet or a laptop,” she noted.
The Minister was addressing a ceremony for the handover of tablets by Sandals Foundation to students of the Ocho Rios Primary School, held at the school grounds on Friday (December 4).
Minister Williams said that while students who are on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) are being prioritised, the Government is cognisant that there are other children, from needy families, who need help.
She said it is against this background that the Ministry is appealing to members of the private sector, including overseas Jamaicans, to support the ‘One Tablet or One Laptop per Child’ Initiative.
“This initiative, of one tablet per child, is a call to corporate Jamaica or wherever you are, to come and assist us so we can achieve this dream,” she noted.
The Ministry, through e-Learning Jamaica (e-LJam), is currently distributing 40,000 devices to PATH students from grades four to six under the Tablets in Schools Programme.
The next set of distribution will be for high-school students in grades 10 to 13, then those in grades seven to nine.
A total of 28 tablets were donated by the Sandals Foundation for grade-six students of Ocho Rios Primary. The initiative, which involved the provision of data for Internet access, involved partnership with the Digicel Foundation.
Principal of the institution, Suzette Barnes Wilson, welcomed the donation, noting that the tablets will better enable the students to access online teaching.
“It will empower so many of our students to navigate and be in classes on time whilst their teachers are online. They will be able to complete their assignments on time and not be left behind,” she said.
Director of Operations at Sandals Foundation, Karen Zacca, in her remarks, said that the organisation is happy to support the One Tablet or One Laptop per Child initiative, noting that it is important that students have the necessary tools at their disposal as they continue to study from home.
Chief Executive Officer of Digicel Foundation, Charmaine Daniels, for her part, said that the entity is pleased to partner with the Sandals Foundation and “we look forward to maintaining this relationship as we work together to build Jamaica”.