Over $2 billion for phase two of tablets programme
Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Senator Reid, says the Government plans to spend $2.1 billion over the next three years to facilitate the second phase of the Tablets in Schools programme.
In an interview with JIS News, Reid pointed out that there will be changes in how the pilot project was carried out, as there will now be a tablet per classroom as opposed to students receiving their own individual device.
"Students who already have tablets or whose parents can afford to purchase tablets will be asked to bring them to school just the same," the Minister explained. "The Government will also provide a set of the devices for each class, to be secured and kept by the school rather than allowing the students to take them home."
Reid noted that there are about 221 primary and infant schools that will benefit in the first year, with the teachers' colleges also scheduled to come on stream within a short time.
"We are spending about $700 million per year, which should take us about three years or less to complete this initiative. This should cover all the primary schools. The high schools are already benefiting from the e-Learning project. Our soon-to-be teachers from the colleges also have to continue to familiarise themselves with the devices so they can effectively teach the children that will be placed under their care," he said.
Reid explained that the main goal is to ensure that there is adequate information and communications technology (ICT) in the nation's schools, especially at the early-childhood and primary levels, where students can have that critical early interaction with technology. The Minister said it is imperative that students, in addition to mastering literacy and numeracy, pay special attention to the sciences and also ICT-related subjects, to be better able to compete in an ever-changing world.
Under the one-year pilot project, which began in 2014, tablets 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. The project is a collaboration between the Education Ministry, and the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology. It is implemented by e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited and the Universal Service Fund.