KINGSTON, Sept. 17 (JAMAICA INFORMATION SERVICE PRESS RELEASE): The nearly 100 students of Cavaliers All-age School in West Rural St. Andrew began receiving tablet computers today (September 17), as the Government’s $1.4 billion Tablets in Schools pilot programme was rolled out at the institution.
The school is the second to be equipped, following a similar exercise at Salt Savannah Primary and Infant School in Clarendon, last week.
In July, the school’s staff, comprising six teachers, one guidance counsellor, and the principal, received their tablets and were trained in their use.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, described the project’s implementation as “gratifying”, pointing out that the long-term objective is facilitating access by all persons to information and communications technology (ICT).
He assured that “every single student at Cavaliers and every single teacher will get a tablet computer.”
Minister Paulwell said the pilot is important, as if it goes well, then the programme will be rolled out to benefit over 600,000 students, who attend Government schools in Jamaica, and their teachers.
In his remarks, West Rural St. Andrew Member of Parliament, Paul Buchanan, welcomed the project’s implementation at Cavaliers, pointing out that it will provide the basis for the children “to learn and obtain the skills that are necessary to give us… growth.”
“You are one of the pioneer schools…of this programme. We are making a statement that…(you) will be availed of all the resources to ensure that our children get…the best education there can be,” he added.
School Principal, Renée Charlton-Wolfe, said she is “elated” and “honoured’ that her institution is among those selected for the year-long pilot.
She pointed out that the technology will “definitely” assist in advancing the students’ educational development.
“It’s (an ideal) way, I think, of getting them really involved in learning, and we are really excited about the opportunities that this will create for the children,” she stated.
Ms. Charlton-Wolfe also anticipates significant benefits for the teachers “because we will all be able to improve our technical skills.”
Parent Fabian Durrant, whose son was among the first recipients, welcomed the undertaking.
“This is historic; I am sure the children will appreciate and make use of the tablets. I see (the project advancing) the way the children will learn and the way education will be brought across. I am sure that if they find fun in learning, it will be easier for them to…grasp what they (are being) taught,” he said.
Mr. Durrant noted that his nine-year old son, Jevauny, who is in grade four, has been performing well academically, having recorded 11 A’s and 14 B’s in his final report for the 2013/14 school year, and expressed confidence that the Tablets in Schools project, will further enhance his son’s performance.
“I am proud, and quite sure that Jevauny will advance. I appreciate (what) the teachers (are doing for) the children; it’s a good sign of what is happening at the school,” he added.
Simone James, whose daughter, 10-year old Grade Six student, Tianah Polo, was also presented with a tablet, said she is “elated…because (the tablet will) help with homework”, adding that “it will also help with preparations for the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).”
“The (Tablets in Schools Project is) a very good programme. I am thankful to the Ministry and the E-learning programme for implementing it. Tianah is doing exceptionally well and (the tablet she received) will (enable her to do even better),”
Ms. James said.
The Tablets in Schools Pilot Project, being undertaken by the Ministries of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, and Education, is being implemented in 38 educational institutions over the next 12 months. It is targeted at 24,000 students and 1,200 teachers in six pre-primary, 13 primary, five all-age and junior high, 12 high schools, one teacher’s college, and one special education institution.
In addition to the distribution of tablets, the initiative also involves delivery of computers and multimedia devices, including interactive white-boards/projectors, scanners, printers to pre-primary and primary schools. This is in addition to the installation of Wi-Fi at all institutions.
Following a review of the pilot, the project is expected to be rolled out in other institutions across the island, targeting an additional 600,000 students and teachers.
The Tablets in Schools project is being executed by e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited.