KINGSTON — Minister of Education, Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Government is eager to partner with technology providers on major projects that will revolutionise the use of computer technology locally and increase productivity and value-added.
He said any such partner must be able to provide computers and infrastructure for connectivity at a reasonable price. “It must be a product that is robust, a product that is efficient and dependable and a product that is suited to the Jamaican condition,” he stated.
Mr. Holness was speaking on August 11 at the launch of the HP MultiSeat Computing Solution at the Wyndham hotel in New Kingston.
He said that the Government is moving away from the current practise where the computer is used simply as an appliance, to where it can be utilised to create wealth and contribute to development.
He noted that the digital divide is such that developing countries are at the consuming end of technology, while developed countries are at the producing end and “our interest now is for us to use technology for value-added and to create new technology that we can use to leapfrog the digital divide."
As such, the Minister said, the strategy of infusing computers and technology into education is not so much centered around access, or giving everyone a computer, but more so on the use of the technology. “That is for students to use the computer in a productive way,” he remarked.
He said that focus is also being placed on getting teachers to understand the power of the technology “and to let them devise their own ways of integrating it in the delivery of knowledge”.
The HP MultiSeat Computing Solution, created by Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Intel is an innovative desktop computer, which allows the sharing of one computer with as many as ten users – each with their own independent session, monitor, keyboard and mouse. The product is seen as being ideal for small businesses, schools and government offices.
Minister Holness remarked that the new MultiSeat solution would work very well for the computer laboratories at most schools in Jamaica and maybe even the classrooms.
Education Sales Manager, Latin America Region, Hewlett-Packard Company, Polo Sanchez, told JIS News that the MultiSeat computer, which generally costs about US$500, is a very affordable solution that could help developing countries reduce the digital gap. He said it is expected to be very successful in Jamaica.
“It has already been very successful in some other countries, because of its affordability, because of its (durability) because it supports a lot of heat and cold temperatures. I think in Jamaica, it’s going to be a success because of the conditions we currently have in Jamaica,” he said.
He further said HP would be seeking to conduct consultations with the Education Ministry in order to get this and similar computing solutions in local schools.
He informed that the company would be creating various bundles to cater to the needs of partners, including the Ministry to make it easier for schools to access the product. “So, what we’re doing is bundling five and ten seats and in fact, the promotion gives a free laptop to the teacher if the schools accesses this bundle,” he said.
The HP MultiSeat Computing Solution is energy-efficient as it leverages the excess capacity of a single, reliable HP desktop to deliver a full, personal computer (PC) experience.
By connecting multiple users to one PC, HP provides a solution that allows businesses, schools, medical offices and organisations of all size to offer more users a familiar PC experience by doubling the number of computing seats without increasing their budgets.
By ATHALIAH REYNOLDS, JIS Reporter