Education, Youth and Information Minister, Hon. Fayval Williams, says by the end of the school year, more than 125,000 tablets would have been issued to students under the Government’s Tablets in Schools Programme.
Mrs. Williams made the disclosure while addressing a handover ceremony where 21 tablets were presented to the Ferris Primary School in Westmoreland, on June 17.
She outlined that in addition, some 25,000 teachers across the island have been trained to utilise the technology in order to facilitate online learning amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our students have been resilient. Has it been easy? No, but you know what, they have taken on the challenge and I want to salute them in not laying down arms in the pandemic,” the Minister said.
“Also, I want to commend our 25,000 teachers across Jamaica. They stepped up to the plate. They got trained. They can manage themselves in the online world. They have created thousands of virtual classrooms and thousands of students have found their way to these virtual classrooms,” she added.
Mrs. Williams indicated that this technology will remain a permanent fixture of the Education sector going forward, as it is suited to equip students with the requisite skills needed for higher education and the world of work.
“We are happy to do it because we are moving Jamaica as well the technology along the pathway and we want all our citizens to be digitally literate,” she said.
“We want you to be able to access banking services online; health services are going to be available online; a lot of what the Government is doing is online, and we want you to access government services online. It will make you more efficient,” the Minister noted.
The tablets, valued at $260,000, were donated via a collective effort of several non-profit organisations, including the Kevin Downswell Foundation, Voices for Jamaica Today Foundation, JN Foundation and KFC.
CEO of Kevin Downswell Foundation, Kevin Downswell, is a past student of Ferris Primary School.
Mrs. Williams praised Mr. Downswell and his Foundation for shining a spotlight on the institution, noting that “when you give back, it encourages others [to do the same]”.
For his part, Mr. Downswell said students need to understand that despite the challenges brought on by the pandemic, they are not alone in this fight and will be given the necessary educational support.