Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, has cautioned students against using the tablet computers, provided to them by the Government, to post on YouTube and other social media sites.
Mrs. Simpson Miller, who was addressing a distribution exercise at the Haile Selassie High School on Monday, September 29, said that the devices “are for educational purposes; nothing else”. She also advised parents to monitor their children’s use of the tablets.
Haile Selassie, located in South St Andrew, is the third institution to be issued with tablet computers under the Government’s $1.4 billion Tablets in Schools pilot programme and the first secondary level institution.
Salt Savannah Primary and Infant School in Clarendon and Cavaliers All-age School in West Rural St Andrew are the schools that have already received devices.
The 840 students of Haile Selassie will be presented with the devices over two days. Tablets were previously distributed to teachers from participating schools across the island.
The Prime Minister, in hailing the project, said with the tablets in hand, students will now have the opportunity to improve on their school work.
Noting her commitment to education, the Prime Minister said she provides some $8 million in tertiary support, each year, for students in her South St. Andrew constituency.
She said that this is crucial as “when parents cannot afford university fees, what will happen is (the children) will remain in the communities, they lose out on achieving a good education, but when you educate one from a family, you’re assisting to lift the entire family and lifting communities as well.”
Minister of Education, Hon. Rev. Ronald Thwaites, in his remarks, noted that the content loaded on the computers “is the finest education, the finest teaching, and the best materials anywhere in Jamaica available to students for use to uplift themselves.”
“It’s up to you to make sure that the tools and the opportunity that the Government is making available to you are put to the highest use. Your future now, is in your hands,” he told the students.
Stressing that the pilot project “has to be successful,” Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, noted that it is a “special project for the future of our country”
In the meantime, Principal of the School, Lorenzo Ellis, thanked the Government for putting the school on a digital platform and pledged that “we will use the equipment to improve teaching and learning, motivation towards learning, research, collaboration, and communication in education”.
The one-year pilot will be carried out in 38 educational institutions and will see the distribution of tablets to benefit 24,000 students and 1,200 teachers in six pre-primary, 13 primary, five all-age and junior high, and 12 high schools; one teacher’s college; and one special education institution.
The initiative, being implemented by E-Learning Jamaica Limited, also involves the distribution of computers and multimedia devices, including interactive white-boards/projectors, scanners and printers to pre-primary and primary schools. This is in addition to the installation of Wi-Fi at all 38 educational institutions.
Following a review of the pilot, the programme will be rolled out across the island, to benefit 600,000 students and teachers.