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Chief Education Officer in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Adelle Brown, has emphasised that citizens must be computer literate in order to compete effectively in the global economy.
“If you look in the newspaper, you will see that there are vacancies and for every work, the employer requires skills in computer, either as an asset or a requirement so, no computer skills, no jobs,” she said.
Mrs. Brown was speaking at the official launch of phase 1 of the Smart Jamaica Project held on January 13 at the Portsmouth Primary School in St. Catherine.
Smart Jamaica, a community-based, fund raising management and training initiative, aims to increase access to communication technology education in primary, all-age and secondary schools island wide.
It is the brainchild of Len Davidson, who is the company’s chairman and head of finance and administration. He is being assisted by eight board members, with the Caribbean Business Forum providing training and development.
Mrs. Brown, who represented Minister of Education, Youth and Culture, Maxine Henry-Wilson at the launch, applauded the organizers of Smart Jamaica as well as parents, teachers, community members and the business community for assisting in the project and helping schools to raise funds to obtain computers.
She also congratulated the Portsmouth Primary School for raising the highest amount of funds during the pilot project held from April to July last year. “This is a signal that the school and other stakeholders understand and appreciate the importance of technology,” she said.
At the ceremony, it was announced that the top eight schools, which participated in the Smart Jamaica pilot project, would receive Dell computers for raising the most money.
The eight schools collected over $900,000. The funds were raised through a Smart Jamaica token system, whereby each contributor was given a Smart token with a value of $20. Schools that collected less than $70,000 will carry forward their contributions to the Phase 1 programme.
Portsmouth Primary School, which raised the highest total of funds among the 28 participating schools, will receive four computers, while Oracabessa Primary in St. Mary and Bridgeport High in Portmore, with the second and third highest contributions respectively, were promised three computers each. The other schools to receive computers are Morant Bay Primary, St. Jago High, Seaforth High, Kellits Primary and Bridgeport Primary schools.
Addressing the large gathering of teachers, students and principals of participating schools, Executive Chairman of Smart Jamaica, Frances Davidson called for support of the project, which she said would result in the development of information technology skills, positive changes in attitudes and in self esteem, income generation and employment possibilities. “Without funds, this would be unrealistic and unachievable, hence fund raising is a very important part of the Smart Jamaica Project,” she said.
Mrs. Davidson said that the Smart Jamaica Project was micro-managed by each participating school, which had a management committee consisting of the principal, a member of the school board, a member of the Parent Teacher’s Association, a member of the Past Student Association and a student representative.
Among the objectives of the Smart Jamaica project is the equipping of teachers and administrators of schools to use technology in instructional delivery and school administration.