JIS News

Education Minister, Andrew Holness, is urging educators, who are yet to attain competence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to do so, as this will serve to lessen the digital divide, and guide and improve the decision- making process within the sector.
Speaking at the launch of the Jamaica School Administrative System (JSAS) 7.0) software, at the Drews Avenue Primary School in Kingston on Thursday (Nov. 6), Mr. Holness said competence in ICT is “very critical.many things are happening in the classroom, but the teacher doesn’t record it. And (even) if it is recorded, it’s not reported. So we don’t have the benefit of looking at past actions, to make our current decisions. we are, essentially, making decisions about education, in the dark,” he said.
The Education Minister pointed out, that the Education Act, stipulates the need for some degree of compulsory reporting of incidents occurring within the sector, which underscores the need for logs to be maintained. This development, he said, will necessitate a deepening of the culture to this end. He further cited the need for stakeholders with a fear of the technology, to overcome this handicap.
“You can’t function in a modern information age, unless you throw off that fear, and embrace the technology. One of the messages that I want to send to all teachers (is) that, if you are not yet computer literate, please start. In fact, it is going to become a requirement, when we establish the Jamaica Teaching Council, that a part of your professional development, is that you are to be computer literate. The Ministry of Education provides certain allowances to assist teachers in becoming computer literate,” he said.
Mr. Holness explained that this thrust, will not only redound to the benefit the sector, but teachers as well.
Continuing, Mr. Holness said the ability of developing countries, such as Jamaica, to bridge the digital divide, depends greatly on how effectively technology is utilised to manage the flow of information. While noting that developed countries have managed to do so, he said Jamaica is yet to develop a culture of utilising technology to manage information flow.
Mr. Holness argued that the usage of information technology in Jamaica aims, among other things, to guide and improve the decision making process. This, he contended, will result in more efficient usage of resources, thereby maximising on the benefits to be derived, and yielding better performances, in the long run.
The Education Minister was, however, quick to point out that lessening the digital divide also requires the development of a culture of reporting and recording, utilising technology.
“Policy makers have to, now look, at how we narrow the digital gap. (How) we use technology to record and create an archive.. (so) that you can easily access information, stretching back for many periods in the past, (and will) have information. impacting upon decisions that you need to make today,” he stated.
The Jamaica School Administrative System (JSAS), is a management software system, which tracks school attendance and individual students’ performances, providing fast and easy retrieval of information, as well as generating transcripts. The project is a joint undertaking between the Governments
of Jamaica and the United States, and is monitored by the Ministry of Education, through the Expanding Educational Horizons (EEH) initiative, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).