Programme to Increase Access to Computer Education to be Launched in Portmore


A programme entitled, ‘Smart Jamaica’, aimed at increasing access to computer education in Primary, All-Age and Secondary schools will be officially launched on January 12, at the Portsmouth Primary School in Portmore, St. Catherine.
Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell and Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Adelle Brown, who will represent Minister Maxine Henry-Wilson, will be the main speakers at the ceremony. Mayor of Portmore, Councillor George Lee, and Rev. Sophia Azan, Custos of St. Catherine are also expected to attend.
Smart Jamaica Limited, a non-profit charitable organization is managing the programme, which was conceptualized by a group of concerned citizens and the Caribbean Business Forum, a private company providing workplace training and development. The programme is being supported by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture.
Head of Finance and Administration at Smart Jamaica, Len Davidson, told JIS News that the first phase of the programme, which began in November last year, involved 70 schools from the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine and Clarendon.
He said that 28 schools had earlier participated in the Smart Jamaica pilot project during April to July, 2004 and obtained contributions from tokens totalling some $1.3 million. Funds are collected by students through a Smart Jamaica token system, whereby each contributor is sold a Smart token with a value of $20.
Mr. Davidson said the funds obtained from the sale of Smart tokens would be used to purchase computers and train teachers involved in the IT programme.
According to Mr. Davidson, fund-raising was an integral part of the programme, which consisted of several components. The other components include school, community and alumni mobilization; development of school technology plans; provision of technical support; implementation of an affordable maintenance and upgrade strategy and programme evaluations.

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