$1 million ‘bonus’ for 5 schools in tablet project

There are smiles all around as Hon. Hon. Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (left) presents a student of Rennock Lodge Primary and Infant School with her tablet at the school recently. Also on hand are Mrs. Angela Brown Burke, chairman of the school board and Mayor of Kingston; and the school’s principal Jacqueline Lewis.

Government has set aside $1 million to reward five schools that are showing academic improvements from utilisation of the tablet computers provided under the Tablets in Schools Pilot project.

Students who demonstrate excellent technology skills from use of the tablets will also benefit from the allocation.

Hon. Phillip Paulwell, the technology minister, said his ministry, along with the Ministry of Education, will be monitoring the progress of the 38 educational institutions that will benefit from the 25,000 computer tablets that are being provided under the project. The top five schools will share a total sum of $500,000.

“For those schools that show marked improvements over their previous situation, we are going to (make one award) for each category of school – basic, primary, high school, and teachers’ college. Those that come out on top, each will get $100,000 to show that the tablets are working,” Paulwell said.

He was addressing the tablet distribution at the St Benedict’s Primary School in St. Andrew last December, where 640 students were presented with devices.

Noting the significant earning potential of persons who excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Minister Paulwell said, “We will be watching to see how well the students perform in those subjects. We have another set of money to reward those schools, and those students.” Those with creative talents will be awarded $500,000.

“Where schools identify youngsters who (on their own) can create applications, who can do their own programming on our tablets, we are going to have a national competition where the best boy and girl will get $500,000,” he said.

Education Minister Hon. Ronald Thwaites, and Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, Hon. Damion Crawford, welcomed the computers for the students, while emphasising how it can aid their learning.

Meanwhile, Minister Paulwell reported that of the nine tablets that have been stolen, four have been recovered.

He said the tracking device on the computers helped in their recovery, and appealed to persons with the remaining five computers to leave them at the nearest police station or school. He warned that “once the authorities (police) have to go for them, arrests will be made”.

–          Adapted from the Jamaica Observer