Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Julian Robinson, says more computer equipment will be provided soon for educational institutions, under the Government’s e-Learning Jamaica Project.
“In the coming months, the e-Learning programme will roll out additional lap tops to be delivered to 176 institutions, to support Grades 10 and 11 and group lab technology deployment strategies,” Mr. Robinson said.
He was addressing the launch of a science and technology workshop at the Christar Villas Hotel, Kingston, Thursday (January 19).
He stated that computer equipment and networks will also be delivered to an additional four high schools and 16 independent schools, and systems administrators will be trained. In addition, Interactive Whiteboards will also be installed in schools. An interactive whiteboard is a large, interactive screen connected to a computer and a projector.
The e-Learning Jamaica Project is an innovative education initiative, which utilises Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the delivery of subjects. It is targeted at high school students, employs both formal and informal methods of teaching and seeks to improve the quality of education, enhance the learning experience and ensure high levels of passes in the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) tests.
The State Minister noted that so far, under the technology infrastructure component of the project, audiovisual equipment have been delivered to 166 public high schools, 16 independent high schools, eight teachers’ colleges, five community colleges and six special schools.
He also informed that computer equipment and networks have been installed in 162 public high schools and eight teachers’ colleges.
Mr. Robinson stressed that educators need to seize the opportunities for enhancing student learning through emerging technologies, noting that, globally, educators are distributing tablets in schools for radical classroom development.
“It is now therefore no longer an option, but an imperative, that our schools examine more formal ways of incorporating these newer technologies into the learning system,” he said
"We have a text savvy generation that we can meet where they are with the current technologies,” he pointed out.
He noted however, that the introduction of newer technologies into schools by itself is not sufficient to transform the educational system, nor does it guarantee improvements in the quality of education or raise attainment.
The State Minister commended the Mutual Building Societies Foundation for undertaking the science and technology workshop, under its Centres of Excellence initiative.
Programme Manger for the Foundation, Dr. Renee Rattray, explained that the $100 million school improvement project was born out of a partnership between the Victoria Mutual and Jamaica National building societies.
It focuses on a number of rural high schools, namely, Porus and Mile Gully in Manchester; McGrath in St. Catherine; Godfrey Stewart in Westmoreland; Green Pond in St. James; and Seaforth in St. Thomas.
"These six schools have been taken on by the building societies and we are making them into Centres of Excellence, which means we are building capacity, with the Principals and the senior management in the schools, and we are trying to improve the Math, English and the Science and IT scores,” she said.
The workshop is geared at science and IT teachers from these schools, and is intended to give them strategies they can use to improve teaching and learning in the classrooms.