Speech

Madam Speaker the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the usual patterns of life. The Government continues to innovate policies and programmes to address the issues that have arisen on account of this pandemic.

I announced the SERVE Jamaica Programme in my budget presentation which is a $60 billion programme of social and economic initiatives to boost economic activity and support Jamaicans through this period. Today I would like to launch an element of this programme: the SERVE Jamaica Digital Device Programme.

Madam Speaker, under the SERVE Jamaica Programme the Government will make available $189 million for the purchase of digital devices for students, identified by Members of Parliament, as students in need who have not benefited from other Government laptop/digital device programmes.

This will amount to an “allocation” of $3 million per Member of Parliament and is intended to supplement and complement the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s existing laptop/digital device programmes.

In addition, under the SERVE Jamaica Programme Digital Device, the Government will make available $140 million for the purchase of digital devices for students, identified by Councilors, as students in need and who are not
beneficiaries of any other Government laptop/digital device programme.

Once the devices have been procured by e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited, the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service will make payment to the supplier directly, by instruction from the Accountant General’s Department.

Madam Speaker, this SERVE Jamaica Digital Device Programme is a collaborative programme between the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Members of Parliament through the Constituency Development Fund, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Councilors.

Madam Speaker, the Minister of Education, Youth and Information has launched several laudable initiatives to ensure that students can transition to online learning and she has updated this House that over 122,000 digital devices will have been provided for PATH and non-PATH students by the end of the school year. These initiatives include the Own Your Device Programme, the One Laptop or Tablet per Child Initiative in collaboration with the diaspora and corporate Jamaica as well as the Government procurement programme for PATH students.

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