JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The skills of students who breach the guidelines on the use of tablet computers, being issued under the Tablets In School Programme, should be harnessed, instead of the children being punished, says Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell.
  • It was reported in one of the island’s daily newspapers on October 29, that a schoolboy has beaten the software to access inappropriate websites on the Government-issued computer.
  • Mr. Paulwell said the action by the student has now forced the administrators to take a more incisive look at safeguards, but more importantly, at how to harness the obvious ‘skills’ of those students good enough to breach the security features on the tablets.

The skills of students who breach the guidelines on the use of  tablet computers, being issued  under the Tablets In School Programme, should be harnessed, instead of  the children being punished, says Minister of  Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell.

It was reported in one of the island’s daily newspapers on October 29, that a schoolboy has beaten the software to access inappropriate websites on the Government-issued computer.

“This occurrence, though alarming, clearly demonstrates the Government’s faith in the ability of our children to learn quickly, adapt to the technology and, with the right guidance and training, could become skilled entrepreneurs through using the technology,” the Minister told JIS News.

Mr. Paulwell  said the action by the student has now forced the administrators to take a more incisive look at safeguards, but more importantly, at how to harness the obvious ‘skills’ of those students good enough to breach the security features on the tablets.

In July,  following the distribution of the first set of tablet computers to teachers, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of e-Learning Jamaica, Avrill Crawford, told JIS News that she was of the view that students who are able to breach the many barriers and restrictions placed on the tablets should be selected for advanced training.

“We know that the children are very resourceful and can hack anything, so we just have to try and be a little ahead of them. We also have to make sure that we are monitoring sufficiently.  It’s pointless saying no, they must not do this or that, we have to manage it properly,” she emphasised.

Several strategies are being used to block or make access to inappropriate websites virtually impossible, but where students get around these restrictions and are able to access these sites, Ms. Crawford said they should be screened and trained.

“It is for us to recognize those talents and move them in the right direction. Once they have something useful and innovative doing, they’ll be quite happy.  They only hack because they can’t find something useful to do with their time and they have the skills and the knowhow,” she told JIS News.

The one-year pilot will be administered in 13 primary schools, six all age and junior high schools, 11 high schools, six infant departments,  one teacher’s college, and one special education institution. Following a review of the pilot, Tablets in Schools will be rolled out across the island, targeting 600,000 students and teachers.