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Thwaites not satisfied with level of viewership on Education Broadcast Network

Published:Monday | February 8, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites has expressed dissatisfaction with the level of viewership of content provided by the Education Broadcast Network (EBN).

EBN is the education ministry's virtual education initiative that produces educational content for display on television and other electronic platforms.

Since its launch last year, the majority of content from the EBN has been carried on cable channels Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ), Jamaica Educational Television (JETV) and LOVE TV.

Thwaites, though he was unable to point to specific data, has, however, said the level of viewership is unsatisfactory.

"This is why we want to expand it. We hope the viewership will grow on EBN as the offerings get wider, but we have to use technology to equalise the educational offerings in each school. Not every school will have a brilliant physics teacher, but if we can, through telecommunications, put them on the television screen or computer screen, then that will be of tremendous assistance," he told The Gleaner.

When asked if having the content on cable rather than free-to-air television was an inhibiting factor, Thwaites said: "My understanding is - I am no expert on this - our local cable companies are fairly universal across Jamaica now and so we have access to 21 channels now and the broadcasting regulations allow us to have further ones for education."

 

MEDIUM TO ADDRESS DEFICITS

 

In a statement to Parliament last week, Thwaites announced that the EBN would be used as a medium to address the deficits that exist in the teaching of mathematics in school.

"The Ministry of Education will accelerate the use of information communication technology to aid in the teaching and learning of math and science. In addition to materials made available through the Education Broadcasting Network, the ministry has partnered with several private-sector entities to provide access to online or virtual educational resources. In due course, the ministry will announce these arrangements," he said.

He has since called for free-to-air television stations to air EBN content.

"We already have access to one free-to-air station, and I am hoping that the others will favour us kindly and favour themselves. If we want good consumers and good employees, how else will we get it unless we make the best education and training ubiquitous?" he said.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com