JIS News

The Ministries of Commerce, Science and Technology and, Education, Youth and Culture have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Microsoft Corporation, which will serve as a platform to offer resources for skills training in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Jamaica.
Under the MOU, resources will be provided over the next five years through the Partners in Learning project, to deliver skills training, technical support and broader access to technology to empower students and teachers.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, which took place yesterday(February 16) at the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica in Kingston, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell pointed out that for the past 10 years, Jamaica had been focused on an ICT policy that was propelling the country to be the leader in the region.
“With the tremendous changes we have pursued in relation to some of the basic infrastructure for ICT, such as our telecommunications liberalization, the modernization of our laws, the establishment of the Central Information Technology Office (CITO), we have seen tremendous growth in the ICT sector in Jamaica,” he added.
The Minister said this growth had also resulted from an emphasis on education and training. Mr. Paulwell noted that through the concept of “joined up” government, the Ministry in collaboration with the HEART Trust/NTA and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture had been involved in producing the type of human resources needed to provide the skills for a Microsoft establishment in Jamaica.
He informed that after five years since the establishment of the Caribbean Institute of Technology (CIT), which trains programmers in Jamaica, some 600 persons have been trained in the various programming languages. Mr. Paulwell also noted that students’ literacy skills had been greatly improved, due to the deployment of computer technology (hardware and software) in the school system.
The Minister pointed out that the Partners in Training progamme was quite significant, as it would enable the school system to benefit from the resources of Microsoft.
Partners in Learning supports Microsoft’s long-term vision for education and the marketplace, to empower teachers and students to achieve their fullest potential by providing greater access to the latest computer technologies and training in how to use them.
Already, countries such as Brazil, Namibia, India, Italy, Thailand, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama are participating in the Partners in Learning programme. Another 10 countries are expected to implement progammes in the latter half of the year.
In his address, General Manager of Microsoft West Indies, Rick Marcet said the company had not limited itself to the development of software programmes, but to also make technology truly accessible to everyone, contributing to the development of individuals, organisations and nations.
He pointed to a number of Microsoft initiatives in Jamaica, such as the ‘Tech De Bus’ project, in collaboration with the Women of PACE, Canada; ‘School Day at Microsoft’, and several technology co-operation agreements that have been signed with educational institutions such as the University of the West Indies, and the HEART Trust/NTA.
Mr. Marcet noted that Jamaica was the first country in the Caribbean to adopt the Partners in Learning initiative, which was a global programme, at the local level. “Partners in Learning is based on our vision that every student and teacher should have access to the latest information technologies in basic education, as well as the skills to use them and that technology should be a way to academic excellence and an enabling tool to access knowledge,” he added.
The programme’s three basic components to support implementation include: the Fresh Start for Donated PCs programme, which will provide a simple solution for public and private primary and secondary schools that need to obtain operating system licences for older donated PCS; and the Microsoft School Agreement Licensing Subscription Progamme, through which access to core software tools will be made more affordable to primary and secondary public schools.
Learning Grants is the third prong of the initiative, which will focus on providing real opportunities to empower schools to significantly raise the level of ICT literacy among staff; support teachers and schools to develop cultures of innovation; and work with schools to prepare students for the digital workplace.

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