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Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Fayval Williams, is calling on Jamaicans to support the Government’s efforts to put electronic devices in the hands of students through the ‘One Laptop or Tablet per Child’ initiative.

She argued that providing children with access to technology is critical in ensuring that Jamaica achieves the goals of the national development plan, Vision 2030.

“If we hope to have Jamaica move and become a digital society, we have to focus on the students… . If we don’t begin in 2020 to have those devices in the hands of the students now – the 10-year-olds, who will be the 20-year-olds in 2030 – when do we begin?” she asked.

Mrs. Williams was speaking at a ceremony for the handover of tablets to students from three schools in South St. Andrew, who are on the Programme for Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), held on Tuesday (October 20), at the Jones Town Primary School in Kingston.

She said that the ‘One Laptop or Tablet per Child’ programme will be officially launched next week.

“Already, we’ve reached out to corporate Jamaica, we’ve reached out to individuals, the diaspora, our international partners to come on board with us and help us in this beginning journey to ensure that there’s technology in the hands of our students, regardless of where they are in Jamaica,” she noted.

The Ministry and e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited commenced the distribution of 40,000 tablets for PATH students in grades four, five and six on October 2.

Public high schools have also been provided with funding to procure laptops for students from grades 10 to 13 who are on PATH, and for other vulnerable students, as identified.

Students who are not on PATH, will also benefit from support to purchase devices in order to access online learning.

“There is an initiative to help non-PATH needy families by allocating an amount towards the purchase of laptops or tablets,” Mrs. Williams noted.

“It is a policy of the Government to ensure that our classrooms, teachers and students have technology to help to provide additional teaching and learning experiences for them, whether they are in the classroom or at home or wherever they are,” she pointed out.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Williams informed that 100 of the 235 institutions across the island that are now operating without Internet connectivity, will soon be equipped with satellite Internet.

This initiative, targeted at institutions in remote, rural communities, will also benefit nearby communities.

“We are moving apace as well, to ensure that the remaining 135 also get the opportunity to be connected,” she said.

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