‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative launches in Jamaica

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By STEM Caribbean | Posted on November 3, 2020

‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative launches in Jamaica

A ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative targeting underprivileged students in Jamaica is officially underway. Last Thursday, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information launched this timely project designed to promote inclusivity in the education sector. The initiative seeks to equip students lacking resources with the tools necessary to function in the digital teaching and learning environment. This objective includes ensuring equity in access to information and communications technology (ICT)-based learning.  

At the virtual event launching this project, Minister of Education, Youth and Information Honourable Fayval Williams spoke about eliminating the digital divide in Jamaica.  

“Eliminating that divide begins by the Government and the private sector coming together as we are doing here today to put a laptop or a tablet in the hands of every Jamaican child, especially those families near or below the poverty level, whether they are in rural Jamaica or in our urban centres,” she said.  

“Obviously, we know it is not just the tablets or laptops, it is the connectivity, and it’s the affordability. It is the educational content that teachers direct to students [and] it is the technical support that the students will have if there is a problem with the device or the software,” she added.  

She also hopes to see improvement in the educational outcomes once the project is being concluded.  

“We want to see better test scores, we want higher levels of certification of our members in our workforce, we want to see more of our students better prepared as they leave primary schools to enter secondary schools, and we want to see more of our students matriculate to tertiary institutions,” she added.  

In addition to an estimated 148,000 students already receiving devices from the Jamaican Government, it’s estimated that 100,000 students need devices to perform effectively in the online learning environment. The 148,000 students currently receiving devices from the Government are under the Programme of Advancement Through Heath and Education (PATH).  

Some of the additional group of students to receive devices are not a part of PATH. According to the Government, among these students, there are 600 Special Needs Students, 4500 students in homes or under the State’s care, and 94,900 students who are not under the PATH initiative. The Government estimates that the ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative will cost about $4.5 billion.   

Hon. Fayval Williams said that participating in this initiative is investing in the future of Jamaica. So far, several individuals and organisations have made monetary pledges towards the project, including President of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA), Jasford Gabriel, who called on Jamaicans locally and abroad to “rally around this noble cause.” Also, the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Foundation is donating $50 million towards providing about 1400 laptops.  

Chairperson for the NCB Foundation, Thalia Lyn, who spoke about this donation, said that the foundation is also supporting the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ by developing a platform for donations locally and abroad.  

Anyone interested in making a monetary contribution can do so through the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange at jamaicastockex.com under “One Laptop or Tablet Per Child Initiative”.  

Those interested in sending devices from abroad should use the Guidelines for Donating through NET so that waivers are applied when the devices arrive in Jamaica. The Guidelines can be found reviewed at http://www.net.org.jm/resource. Local donors can also provide devices through NET.  

For more information on the project, call the NET at +1 876-967-9007 or 967-7962. 

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