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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The government is moving to address concerns about the safety of children online.
  • The pilot phase will allow for close observation before the project is rolled out nationally.
  • The government considers the project to be critical in preparing students for the future.

The government is moving to address concerns about the safety of children online, as it prepares to pilot the School Tablet Computer Programme during the current academic year.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson, told a Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Think Tank on Wednesday, September 25, that close to 800 teachers have already been trained to instruct and monitor students in the use of the instruments.

He informed also that the pilot phase will allow for close observation before the project is rolled out nationally. “What we hope to do is learn the lessons from the pilot in the initial phase,” he said.

A total of 30,000 tablets will be distributed in the pilot project, and over the next five years, the government intends to allocate approximately 400,000 instruments to all government schools island-wide.

The State Minister, who was speaking against the background of the upcoming conference on Cyber Security and Digital Forensics slated for the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus from September 30 to October 1, 2013, explained that some of the challenges to be overcome include ensuring students do not have access to particular types of content online, and that inappropriate web sites are blocked.

He noted that the government considers the project to be critical in preparing students for the future. “We are fully aware and cognizant of those (security) concerns, but we still have to go ahead.  It is where the world is moving,” Mr. Robinson said.

He pointed to the benefits of using technology to enhance learning in the classroom.

“The indicators point to this (computer and internet literacy) being something that enhances learning and provides an opportunity for youngsters to build products and services, which they can now use as a way of going into entrepreneurship,” he said.

A total of 35 schools at the early childhood, primary, and secondary levels have been shortlisted to participate in the pilot phase of the programme.

The tablets will be provided free of cost, as the government implements programmes to enhance education through the use of technology.