Students of Salt Savannah Primary and Infant School, became the first to receive tablet computers under the Tablets in Schools (TIS) Pilot Project, during a distribution exercise at the school on Thursday, September 11.
The project is a collaboration between the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM) and the Ministry of Education, and is being implemented by e-Learning Jamaica Company Ltd (e-LJam) and the Universal Service Fund (USF). Parents and guardians accompanied their children to the school, where they signed an agreement outlining the care and proper use of the devices.
Speaking at the handover, Phillip Paulwell, MSTEM Minister, urged parents to ensure that students take care of the devices and use them for educational purposes. He told the parents to get the word out, that it made no sense for the tablets to be stolen because they could be tracked by the police, and they were designed to be shut down if they were misappropriated.
Continuing, he said that not only would the tablets help to improve students’ education, but they would also prepare them for the job market and solve some of the problems in their communities. “Soon our children will be using these devices to make money from the programmes they will design”.
Ronald Thwaites, Minister of Education, also speaking on the occasion noted, that Salt Savannah Primary had a challenge in meeting its literacy targets, but that the TIS pilot project was expected to help in addressing this. He noted that a school in rural Jamaica was chosen as the first recipient of the tablets, to send a message that children do not have to live in urban areas to access quality education. He also called on the parents to send their children to school every day, even if they had no lunch money.
Rudyard Spencer, Member of Parliament for the area in which the school is located, thanked the government for including the school in the project. He disclosed that Councillor for the area, Winston Maragh, had ensured that a secure storeroom was built at the school to temporarily house the tablets if it became necessary.
Students and teachers in 38 educational institutions, will receive some 25,000 tablets under the year-long pilot project. Teachers in the pilot institutions have already received their devices, and have undergone training in the integration of technology in education, in order to effectively deliver lessons in the classroom.