Sat | Nov 28, 2020

USF embarking on programme to assist students in accessing online classes

Published:Monday | October 19, 2020 | 9:36 AM
Chief Executive Officer for the Universal Service Fund (USF), Daniel Dawes, speaking during the handover ceremony for information and communication technology (ICT) devices presented to the Western Regional Health Authority at the entity’s office in Montego Bay, St James on Friday, October 16, 2020 - Contributed photo.

Chief Executive Officer for the Universal Service Fund (USF), Daniel Dawes, says the entity will shortly be embarking on a programme to assist students experiencing challenges accessing the Internet to participate in online classes.

“Based on the COVID-19 [pandemic] experience, students are not able to go to school. So, we want to go inside the communities to see how we can provide Internet [service] so that they can have access to their online schooling… particularly in underserved and unserved areas,” Dawes said.

He made the disclosure during an interview with JIS News following a ceremony on Friday, October 16  to hand over information and communication technology (ICT) devices, valued $2.8 million to the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA).

The devices donated to the WRHA include six tablet computers, four multifunction printers, and a WiFi router.

These will serve to modernise the authority’s patient management system, thereby improving client service delivery.

The presentation was made at the WRHA’s office in Montego Bay, St. James.

Dawes informed that the programme to assist the students is being developed in partnership with several key stakeholders.

“We are working very closely with e-Gov Jamaica Limited and the National Works Agency [NWA] ….to ensure that all of Jamaica is covered with broadband [Internet service],” he noted, adding that “in short order, you will see the Universal Service Fund in communities”.

Dawes also advised that the USF is looking to increase the number of public WiFi hotspot locations islandwide of which nine have, to date, been established.

He said that among the areas being targeted are Ocho Rios, St Ann; Chapleton, Clarendon; and Annotto Bay, St Mary, adding that “we [will] then be moving to Morant Bay in St Thomas and Westmoreland”.

Additionally, Dawes said the USF will be providing Internet service for the Closed Harbour Beach Park in Montego Bay, which is being constructed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC).

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