Thu | Feb 25, 2021

Connectivity issues hurting resumption of face-to-face classes

Published:Monday | January 25, 2021 | 12:06 AMChristopher Serju/Sernior Gleaner Writer
Douglas Augustine Ekele Mukwelle, reads a book while waiting on his tablet, donated by RMP and Associates Limited at John Mills Primary and Infant School on January 22.
Douglas Augustine Ekele Mukwelle, reads a book while waiting on his tablet, donated by RMP and Associates Limited at John Mills Primary and Infant School on January 22.

Government’s effort to return to face-to-face teaching is not going according to plan, Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams admitted on Friday, when she disclosed that fewer than half the schools that were given clearance to return to normal in-class sessions are yet to get up to speed.

“We still have many schools across our system that are not yet back into the face-to-face mode. In fact, when I checked, we had only approved 280 schools and of that only a hundred are actually doing the face-to-face,” she told a handover ceremony of 50 tablets to the John Mills Primary and Infant School, located at 26 A Retirement Crescent, Kingston 5.

The donation to the ‘One Laptop or Tablet per Child Initiative’ was made by Reece Kong of technology company, RMP and Associates Limited, who is a past student of the school.

Earlier, Dennis Gordon, People’s National Party councillor for the Maxfield Park division, spoke to the importance of all Jamaicans contributing to this venture, after he had pledged $250,000.

“Any assistance to the community that lends hope to the kids who are our future, I am committed to be a part of that and stand ready to play my part as the councilor. I hope the kids who receive them will use them for the purpose intended and create hope for your fellow students,” he told the beneficiaries.

Acting Principal Marcia Ennis, in a heartfelt speech, addressed the impact of their collective actions.

“When we make investments in the young people of a nation we are opening the doors to opportunities and to other prospects for sustainable change. We appreciate the fact that you are making sure that the children are not left behind, while learning is going online,” she said.

“We are grateful because these tablets will not only help to fulfil our mandate, which is to ensure that all our students have access to an electronic learning device, but it helps 50 more students to attain their education virtually, with more convenience.”

ADEQUATE BANDWIDTH NEEDED

Meanwhile, Williams admitted that the absence of adequate bandwidth to effectively satisfy the country’s digital connectivity is one of the factors hurting the government’s efforts.

“We do not want any of our children to be left behind. We always talk about the digital divide. It means that there are some students who have everything in terms of smart phones, laptops, tablets, connectivity and there are some students who do not have it.”

Her ministry remains committed to ensuring that everything is done to reach every child in order to ensure that regardless of their socio-economic situation or where they live in Jamaica that they are able to connect digitally to the world of technology.

“Given our focus to move Jamaica to become more of a digital economy, it is important that our students have the device, they learn how to use it safely, how to care for it and ensure that they have it all the way through school to help them with their lessons,” said Williams.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com