Gov’t to complete handover of 40,000 tablets next week

THE Government will complete the distribution of 40,000 devices under the Tablets in Schools Programme next week.

Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams made the disclosure at a ceremony for the handover of tablets at Buff Bay Primary School last Thursday.

The Government, through e-Learning Jamaica (e-LJam) began the distribution of devices to students benefiting from the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) on October 2.

The tablets are targeted at pupils in grades four to six and will augment the 18,000 tablets and the more than 12,000 desktop computers already in the school system.

Minister Williams noted the importance of placing technological devices in the hands of students.

“A device is what a textbook was 50 years ago in the hands of a child. That is how you should look on a tablet or a laptop,” she noted.

“We are on a journey, and it’s a journey to have Jamaica become a fully digital society, where all of us feel comfortable using technology to access government services and to better the educational outcomes. We want brighter children coming out of the education sector. We want our children to learn faster and we believe technology will help to enable that,” she added.

Chief executive officer of e-LJam Keith Smith said that more devices are coming for educators and students, which will provide approximately 100,000 technology solutions for the year.

“This year, we have already rolled out 23,000 teacher tablets and we have another 1,500 to do. This programme [Tablets in Schools] is 40,000 tablets and we’ve just gotten the nod for the second-to-last stage of the procurement process for another 16,000 tablets, which will go to high schools — grades seven, eight and nine.

“We are in the process of procurement for 15,000 laptops, which will go to the high school students on PATH in grades 10, 11, 12 and 13 — the exam grades,” he said.

Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz, in his remarks at the handover ceremony, commended e-LJam for its work in procuring the devices through funding from the Universal Service Fund (USF).

“The work has not been easy. The coordination has not been easy and, therefore, I want to commend the USF and e-Learning for making the technology accessible for our people, especially our students,” he noted.

Minister Vaz encouraged the students to safeguard their devices.

“ICT [information and communications technology] is integral to education, especially the education of our students, and we are committed to ensuring that our students are given every opportunity to excel. I want to encourage our students, who have received tablets, to use them wisely and responsibly. These tablets are tools for your educational advancement and we urge you to learn all you can and use them to enhance your knowledge,” he said.

A total of 213 devices were handed over at Buff Bay Primary to benefit students of the institution, in addition to Charles Town Primary, Tranquility Primary and Infant, and St Margaret’s Bay Primary.

A similar ceremony was held later in the day at Port Antonio Primary, where 501 tablets were distributed to students of the school, and Norwich Primary, Boundbrook Primary, Draper’s All-Age, and Kenwright Primary.

The Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, through the USF, spent $700 million for the Tablets in Schools Programme and $805 million for the Tablets for Teachers Programme.

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