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Minister of Mining and Telecommunications Derrick Smith, says he will be pushing for the expansion of the e-Learning Project to include primary schools.
Currently the project is being implemented across the island at the secondary level and at teachers colleges and special schools, but Minister Smith says he thinks it would be better served if the project is extended to the primary system.
“I’ll surely be making representation and I’ll be an advocate, for further improvement to the project, because I firmly believe that this programme should equally be offered to the primary schools (which) accommodate the larger block of students in this country,” he said.
Mr. Smith expressed this view while delivering the keynote address at the graduation ceremony of 296 teachers who participated in the e-Learning summer programme in 2008.
He said he was positive that after all the kinks have been worked out in the programme, consideration will be given to expansion.
Mr. Smith noted that funding for the expansion would not be a problem, because of the way the programme is financed, through the Universal Access Fund. The Universal Access Fund was established via a levy on overseas telephone calls, which terminate in Jamaica.
The pilot for the project was implemented in 28 high schools in 2006, at Grades 10 and 11, and three teachers colleges. Following this test phase, it was rolled out to 150 high schools from Grades Seven to 11.
Speaking with JIS News following the ceremony, Mr. Smith explained that primary and in some cases pre-primary school students are the best exposure cases for e-learning and Information Communication Technologies (ICT), as they have a quicker adaptability to technologies and new ways of doing things.
However, he acknowledged that “the problem there is that there are much more children at that level, so it might be a bit more difficult to manage. But I think that’s the way we ought to go ‘eventually,’ after we’ve completed implementation at the public high schools”.
Chief Executive Officer, and Project Manager of e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited, Avril Crawford, explained that the e-learning project was intended to use ICT-based materials and equipment to improve passes in the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination in 11 subjects.
“So it is giving instructional material to both teachers and students in these 11 subjects, providing computer and audio visual equipment so that the teachers can use the equipment to teach and students can use it for remedial and group work. It’s training the teachers to use the material in instructional technology. Those are the main three components of the programme,” she explained.
Mrs. Crawford further noted that there is a remedial component of the programme where students who are slow learners, or have special disabilities receive special educational software and equipment. Another component institutes across-the-board standard examinations from Grades Seven to Nine.
“As soon as we have all the components in and the teachers have had a year to operate at full mastery, then we will begin to see the full effect of the programme,” she said.

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