Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that the Government is prioritising the distribution of tablets to students in need in order to ensure that they can access online learning.
He said he is aware of the challenges being faced by many families, noting that in some cases, several children in a household are sharing one device – usually a mobile phone.
The Prime Minister was addressing a ceremony for the handover of devices under the Tablets in Schools Programme, at the Seaward Primary and Junior High School in Olympic Way, St. Andrew, on Tuesday (November 4).
The Government, through e-Learning Jamaica (e-LJam), is currently distributing 40,000 tablets to primary-school students who are beneficiaries under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
The Prime Minister noted that aside from issuing of tablets, some parents will be assisted with a grant to help with the purchase of a device.
He is imploring those parents “who can afford to buy a tablet to make the sacrifice and buy the device for your child”.
During the ceremony at Seaward Primary and Junior High, the Prime Minister, along with Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, handed over 43 tablets to benefit students.
Mr. Holness, who is Member of Parliament for West Central St. Andrew, where the school is located, commended the educators for using creative means to reach and engage students.
This is through the delivery and collection of schoolwork for those who do not have access to devices, and showing parents how to log on to the learning platforms. “I want to encourage you to keep doing that great job,” Mr. Holness said.
In her remarks, Minister Williams said the Government’s technology programme is more than just the distribution of the devices, noting that “there are many factors that have to come together to ensure that learning is accelerated and enriched”.
“We know it’s about Internet connectivity, affordability, the e-content that we provide [and] it’s about the teachers who are trained… in the online system,” she said.
“We know these are difficult times, but we can’t throw up or hands. Now is when we… step forward to ensure that our children, wherever they are, in the deepest (most) rural part of Jamaica, are connected to the formal education system and are able to learn even while we live through the pandemic. We are totally committed to this process,” she said.
Principal of the School, Arlene Thomas, expressed gratitude that students have received the “well-needed gadgets” that will enable more of them to benefit from online learning and teaching.
Grades four to six students are benefiting from the distribution of tablets, which started on October 2.
The devices will augment the 18,000 tablets and approximately 12,000 desktop computers already in the school system.