Approximately 300 primary schools across the island are to be provided with high speed Internet service, free of cost, over the next three years.
This will be facilitated through partnership between the Government and the LIME Jamaica Foundation. The project will be undertaken in phases with about 100 schools to benefit this year.
Speaking at the press conference at LIME’s corporate offices in St. Andrew on June 21, Minister of Education, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, said the project will assist in bridging the digital divide, by infusing information communication technology (ICT) in education at the primary level.
“We need to reduce the inequity in educational opportunities and this is a firm step in this regard,” he stated.
He commended LIME, noting that the initiative fits “exactly with the e-Learning Project’s zeal to extend computer access to the primary sector, having done so significantly for the high school sector in its originating years."
Minister Thwaites said it is the intention of the Ministry to cluster infant schools with primary schools where there is space “so therefore, the services which e-learning will make available and which will be connected with LIME’s access, is going to benefit a much larger cohort”.
LIME’s Managing Director for Jamaica and Cayman, Garry Sinclair, informed that throughout the life of the programme more than 200,000 students will benefit In addition, he said, scores of communities will be transformed and Internet penetration in the country will increase significantly.
Mr. Sinclair stated that every child in Jamaica, irrespective of their socio economic situation, should have Internet access in order to reach their full potential, noting that studies have shown that students, who have such access, have performed better than those, who do not.
“We know that many parents are challenged to provide Internet service in the homes so we are going to ensure that children in primary schools will at least have access while they are at school. Today, (we) are reinforcing our commitment to national development through this important partnership,” he said.
There are about 800 primary schools in Jamaica.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter