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Story Highlights

  • The donation, which is the largest to date made by the technology solutions firm in the English-speaking Caribbean, entails Office 2013 Pro Plus applications, comprising: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access, which are utilized by global enterprises and companies.
  • These will be uploaded on the approximately 800 state-of-the-art computers slated to be installed within the next three months at all of the JLS’ 127 public libraries islandwide
  • In welcoming the donation, Mrs. Barton said it will help to further enhance the library users’ experience, through exposure to advanced ICT resources.

The Jamaica Library Service’s (JLS) information and communications technology (ICT) project, currently being developed, has been boosted with the provision of computer software, valued approximately $131.85 million (US$1.13 million), by Microsoft Jamaica.

The donation, which is the largest to date made by the technology solutions firm in the English-speaking Caribbean, entails Office 2013 Pro Plus applications, comprising: Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access, which are utilized by global enterprises and companies.

These will be uploaded on the approximately 800 state-of-the-art computers slated to be installed within the next three months at all of the JLS’ 127 public libraries islandwide and some mobile facilities, under the project, titled: ‘JLS: Using Technology to Empower Individuals and Communities for Development’.

This will provide a wide cross-section of users with access to state-of-the-art software for engagements, ranging from sending emails and undertaking academic work, to designing invoices, business cards, brochures, and flyers.

The project, which was launched by Education Minister, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in November 2014, is being jointly financed through grant funding, totalling $233 million (US$1.9 million), provided by the United States-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Ministry.

Packages of the software were presented to JLS Director General, Karen Barton, by Microsoft Jamaica Country Manager, George Cobin, during a brief ceremony at the JLS’ head office on Tom Redcam Drive, St. Andrew, on Friday (June 19).

In welcoming the donation, Mrs. Barton said it will help to further enhance the library users’ experience, through exposure to advanced ICT resources.

“Through these resources, library users will be provided with training opportunities and other initiatives which will support our two focus areas of digital inclusion and education. The JLS staff will also benefit, in terms of capacity building and personal development,” she said.

In expressing gratitude to Microsoft “for this very kind gesture”, Mrs. Baton added that “this…will (help us to) contribute to our (Vision 2030 National Development Plan) goal – ‘to empower Jamaicans to achieve their fullest potential’.

In his remarks, Mr. Gobin hailed the JLS’ project team on its work to develop the initiative.

“We understand the power of technology, we understand the power of access to technology, and, more importantly, we understand the power of levelling the playing field, by giving access to your students,…young adults,…(and)…adult population ,” he stated.

For her part, Microsoft Jamaica’s Sector Manager for Education, Queenie Ko, indicated that through the project and partnership, “the possibilities are endless.”

“We are happy that Microsoft is part of this effort (of) using technology to empower individuals and communities for development in Jamaica,” Ms. Ko added.

The Jamaica Library Service, which was established in 1948, is the central statutory body responsible for the island policy and the management and control of a coordinated library service, which is available free of cost to the public and schools islandwide

Founded in 2000, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also known as the Gates Foundation, is the largest private foundation in the world.

Named after two of the United States’ most recognized philanthropists, it primarily aims to enhance healthcare and reduce extreme poverty, as well as expand educational opportunities and access to information technology. It had an endowment totalling US$42.3 billion, as at November 2014.