JIS: A new phase of the Tablets in Schools Project is slated to get under way soon, following the signing of two contracts totalling US$30 million.
Of the sum, US$16 million has been awarded to GeoTech Vision Limited, while US$14 million goes to Innovative Corporate Solutions Limited for the supply and delivery of tablet carts and services.
The contracts were signed today (October 30) at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew by Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid; Chief Executive Officer (CEO), GeoTechVision, Valerie Grant; CEO, Innovative Corporate Solutions, Neil Abrahams; Principal Financial Officer, Ministry of Science and Technology, Richard Fonseca; and Acting CEO, e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited, Izett McCalla.
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information is collaborating with e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited and the Universal Service Fund to implement the project in selected public educational institutions over the next 11 years. A total of 1,106 institutions will benefit over the period.
In his address, Senator Reid said the Government will continue to provide students, teachers and other stakeholders with the necessary facilities to access technology.
“We cannot advance and take our place among the leading nations of the world if we do not continue to increase access to technology,” he said.
The Minister said this new phase of the programme will be more effective, especially since it will give the nation’s teachers additional help to administer several aspects of the National Standards Curriculum.
Senator Reid pointed out that new safeguards have been installed on the devices to prevent access to inappropriate content.
“As we prepare for the demands of this 21st century, online teaching and learning in a digital ecosystem will become a norm,” he said.
He explained that monitoring and reporting activities will be carried out jointly and separately by personnel from the Ministry and e-Learning Jamaica throughout the operation of each phase.
The Minister said the reports from these monitoring and evaluation activities will be presented to the Boards, Ministers and Executives of the partner organisations in order to provide them with an independent and balanced assessment of the project.
He added, too, that formal project phase close-out reports will be prepared for each phase and eventually at the end of the project.
Project Manager, Tablets in Schools, e-Learning Jamaica, Manley Haye, said individual tablets will be provided to the teachers, while students will be sharing the devices. “The schools are more comfortable with that model than they were with the individual tablets, because it allows greater control, and they can plan better,” he said.
He noted that 12,500 teachers will be trained; and 91,000 tablets; 2,200 interactive whiteboards; multimedia projectors, laptops as well as educational content and classroom management software will be provided.
Principal, Cross Primary and Junior High in Clarendon, Henry Mullings, expressed gratitude that his institution was selected to benefit under the initiative.
“It is an opportunity for our teachers and students to get on board, as far as technology is concerned. They have been trying to use what little we had, but with the tablets coming, I think we will be able to do more, and teachers are very much prepared to start what they have to do and face the challenge that is ahead of us,” he said.
Under the pilot, which began in 2014, tablet computers were distributed to some 24,000 students and 1,200 teachers in six pre-primary, 13 primary, five all-age and junior high, and 12 high schools; one teachers’ college, and one special education institution.
CAPTION: Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator the Hon. Ruel Reid (centre), shakes hands with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Innovative Corporate Solutions, Neil Abrahams (second right), following the signing of a contract for a new phase of the Tablets in Schools Project at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew on October 30. Sharing the occasion (from left) are Acting CEO, e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited, Izett McCalla; CEO, GeoTechVision, Valerie Grant; and Principal Financial Officer, Ministry of Science and Technology, Richard Fonseca. Contracts totalling US$30 million were signed with GeoTechVision and Innovative Corporate Solutions.