TWENTY-FIVE thousand public school teachers will, within the next two months, benefit from the roll-out of the Tablets for Teachers Programme.
The tablet computers will be for personal use as well as to assist the educators in delivering content and lessons in a virtual environment, especially since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has transformed the teaching/learning atmosphere.
A sum of $700 million was symbolically handed over to e-Learning Jamaica by the Universal Service Fund (USF) for the procurement of the devices, during a ceremony at PCJ Auditorium, in New Kingston, yesterday.
The Tablets for Teachers Programme is part of an agreement between the Government and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) to provide each teacher in public schools with a 10-inch tablet computer as part of their compensation package.
Speaking at the official handing-over ceremony, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Fayval Williams said distribution of the devices has already commenced.
The Government, she said, is strengthening efforts to equip teachers and students with digital skills which will foster innovation, adding that the programme is integral as COVID-19 has shifted the teaching and learning experience and has pushed more teaching and learning exercises online.
“The world as we know it has changed. Therefore, the time has come for us to build the capacity of all the people. We are making the right moves to increase information communication technology (ICT) in schools and this financial support to the Tablets to Teachers project is testament,” she said.
Williams argued that access to the Internet should be a right of all Jamaicans, in much the same way as other utilities, such as water and electricity, are delivered to homes.
Meanwhile, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Alando Terrelonge said distribution of the tablets will assist in ensuring that the education system is not disrupted, although aspects of the teaching and learning environment have shifted.
“The gift of a tablet is an essential part of the learning tool,” the state minister said. For his part, Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke said the Government remains committed to delivering promises made. He said the devices are integral in the Government’s drive to becoming a digital society, while enabling connectivity.
“The timing of the delivery of these tablets could not be better, in that they will enable teachers to accelerate our advancement in this new sort of world,” the minister said.
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer of Universal Service Fund (USF) Daniel Dawes said he is looking forward to the positive impact the devices will have in the virtual and physical classrooms.
“This disbursement is one more way to enable us to be producers rather than consumers,” he added.
CEO of e-Learning Jamaica Keith Smith said the Postal Corporation of Jamaica will assist with the distribution of the devices, which should be completed over the next two months.
And chairperson of the Universal Service Fund Dr Gunjan ManSingh said investment in education is an investment in the future.
The disbursement of tablets falls within the 11-year arrangement between the USF and e-Learning Jamaica for the financing of projects that will see to the dissemination of tablet computers to students and teachers at the infant, primary and secondary levels.
Article by: Jamaica Observer