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The academic capacity of students at seven primary schools in East Kingston and Port Royal is expected to be significantly boosted, through the provision 56 portable tablet computers, valued at just over $950,000, by telecommunications firm, Digicel Jamaica.

Institutions benefitting from the 56 Huawei tablets are the Elletson Road Primary, Holy Rosary Primary, Norman Gardens Primary, Rollington Town Primary, Windward Road Primary and Junior High, Rennock Lodge Primary, and Port Royal Primary and Infant Schools.

The tablets are part of over 700 that have been donated to schools through the Digicel Foundation. The provisions were made possible through discussions between Digicel’s Chief Executive Officer, Andy Thorburn, and Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM) Minister and East Kingston and Port Royal Member of Parliament, Hon. Phillip Paulwell.

The computers were formally presented to student representatives and teachers from each institution during a brief ceremony at Port Royal Primary School, on Monday, April 8.

In his remarks, Mr. Thorburn noted that the Huawei tablet, which Digicel launched in 2012, has the capacity to provide students and teachers with access to educational applications as well as the internet, “under controlled circumstances”.

Underscoring Digicel’s commitment to Jamaica’s education sector, Mr. Thorburn said part of the firm’s approach is to ensure access, especially by students, to the latest technological applications “that can support their learning”.

Meanwhile, Minister Paulwell welcomed Digicel’s gesture, and noted that the technology provides a “tremendous opportunity” for educational standard of Jamaican students to be on par with those of their counterparts in other countries, such as Australia, South Korea, and North America.

He pointed out that the Ministry has been underscoring the importance of technology in advancing the educational process for the nation’s children, particularly to parents.

“We have been trying to impress on parents that when they provide (their) child with a tablet… they really are investing in a future that will enable that child to become productive and to be able to contribute well and meaningfully to himself/herself, the family, and the society,” Mr. Paulwell stated.

For his part, Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites, said that Digicel’s gesture is indicative of the “realistic hope” for educational advancement through technology.

“So, we encourage the teachers and students to make full use of the applications that are on these tablets (in order) for us to see ourselves as advancing with this process throughout all of our schools,” he said.

Principal of Port Royal Primary School, Nicola Jones, in welcoming the donation, pointed out that “this (gesture) is an excellent insight by all involved, especially Digicel.”

Rollington Town Primary School’s Principal, Dr. Margaret Bailey, in expressing gratitude, noted the significant results which partnerships, such as that provided by Digicel, can yield.

“Here is a company that cares. A company that believes in partnership and a company that believes that investment in education is the best investment that you can make. There is so much that we can learn from this gesture,” Dr. Bailey said.

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter