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State Minister for Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd, has said that Jamaica’s information and communication technology (ICT) potential must be maximized, for the creation of a world-class workforce to fuel the country’s development.
Minister Rhodd, who was making his contribution to the 2005/06 Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on June 28, called for the implementation of ICT education programmes through collaborative efforts. “Innovative financing structures and a highly effective collaboration between government and commerce are required,” he said.
He noted further, that the benefits of an ICT education programme, such as the Jamaica Collaboration for Universal Technology Education (JCUTE), among others, would guarantee the entrance of more educated and technologically skilled individuals into the workforce, increase the efficiency and profitability of the productive sector, aid in crime reduction and social development, and stimulate improvements in the gross domestic product.
Meanwhile, Dr. Rhodd said the Education Ministry was continuing its inventory of the ICT capacity in all schools to enable more effective planning for technology needs. He informed that the contract for the inventory, valued at $9 million, had been awarded to a consortium formed by the Jamaica Computer Society Foundation.
The Foundation, he explained, has been charged with the responsibility of providing a list of available hardware, software, facilities, skills, projects and programmes in the schools, and other equipment such as televisions and cassette recorders.
He informed that under the Instructional Technology pilot project, a number of schools were provided with personal computers, laptops, alpha smarts, digital cameras, televisions and cameras. The pilot was designed under the Primary Education Support Project (PESP), with the objective of seeking to discover, through experimentation, the most effective ways of using computer technology to improve literacy and numeracy in 15 Jamaican schools.
In addition, he said principals and teachers have received training on how to use ICT as an instruction delivery tool.
Dr. Rhodd also told the House, that the Ministry’s cable channel, the Learning Network, which began test transmission in East Kingston last February, was scheduled to begin broadcasting islandwide next September.
The Learning Network is intended to provide material to support the primary curriculum. It will also provide support to programmes at the secondary level, professional development for teachers and general information for the public.