Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says an announcement will be made shortly regarding the next phase of the Tablets In School programme.
He said the pilot phase has been a tremendous success at the primary level, noting that many students are reading a lot better as a result.
Speaking at the opening of the Flanker Resource Centre in St. James on January 29, Mr. Paulwell said that he, as well as Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, are of the view that the initiative “can only further enhance the country’s educational system.”
“We are currently doing an evaluation and proper analysis of the programme but are encouraged with what we have seen so far, especially at the primary level. We are amazed at the improvement in the reading ability of the (students). This is good because if you are leaving primary school and cannot read then this is a big problem,” he noted.
Minister Paulwell indicated that some modification will be done to the programme before the next phase begins to ensure that the tablets are used solely for educational purposes, and to enable more children, who were not a part of the pilot “to also get a chance to improve on their literacy.”
He informed that 25,000 tablets were distributed during the pilot phase, which got underway in 2014. Of the total, 185 were stolen, and 90 have since been recovered by the police.
“In this regard we want to thank the security forces for the tremendous job they have done in recovering these tablets,” Mr. Paulwell said.
“We have put into these devices, special trafficking features where if you steal them then once they are turned on we can find you anywhere you are. We have actually tracked one all the way to Russia. I guess that student didn’t realise that the tablet should have been returned once you leave school,” he said.
Mr. Paulwell said tablet computers are good tools to put in the hands of young people where they can improve their skills in information technology, which would put them on par with their counterparts in South Korea, Japan, China and other technologically-savvy countries.
“The main thing is that this is a viable programme that is good for Jamaica,” the Minister said.
“We have to develop our people, our human resources to build a better Jamaica. We have the talent pool here to deliver. We simply have to provide the tools and create the proper environment… for our young people to show their worth…to show their true mettle. This is what building a country is all about. It is all about giving our people the opportunity to succeed,” he contended.