200 tablets for Galina Primary
Orantes More, Gleaner Writer
Smiles adorned the faces of dozens of young children in St Mary last week following the delivery of some 200 tablet computers to Galina Primary and Infant School.
The deployment of computers to 191 students, aged between four and 13 years old was part of the government's Tablets in Schools initiative, and included a comprehensive training session for the children and their parents, courtesy of Digicel Business.
According to Galina Primary's principal, Sandria Shaw, the project, which aims to empower young Jamaicans by distributing 25,000 tablets to 38 schools across the island, will simultaneously help to boost students' attainment levels and drastically change how they engage with teachers.
Shaw told Rural Xpress: "We were long-awaiting the distribution of these tables for the children and thought we were going to receive them when the scheme rolled out in September. All the students are enthusiastic about this project, and I can see where it will transform both teaching and learning.
"For example, all the teachers now have exciting activities at their fingertips and, whereas sometimes we're not able to copy documents because the cost of printing and ink are so high, now everyone has tablets, students can go home and follow through on what they were taught in class."
She added: "These tablets and the training we received were a great way to start the new school term. Both teachers and students are very excited and are looking forward to interacting with the tablets.
"Technology is the new teacher on the block and the traditional teacher can only become stronger in the delivery of their lessons when it is perfectly integrated in the classroom."
Shaw claims unofficial figures show that the literacy rate at Galina Primary has risen from 59 per cent in 2009 to around 70 per cent in 2014, and believes the introduction of e-learning programmes will help better prepare the students for high school.
She said: "This will make a really big difference and take us much further because we're looking at situations where a child may be sick at home, but now they will be able to communicate with their teacher on Skype, find out what work was missed, and prepare to come back to class."
Her comments were echoed by Digicel Business' head of enterprise solutions, Ative Ennis, who said: "As technology evolves, we have to ensure that our teachers and students are prepared to maximise on its potential.
"Having technology like this in the classroom is a transformative process, one that will revolutionise the education system in Jamaica and prepare our children for the global workforce."
Speaking after the handover session, Member of Parliament for Western St Mary Jolyan Silvera praised Digicel and the Government for joining forces to deliver such a worthwhile service.
He said: "Personally, I am overjoyed with this project because education is the main tool to curb the many ills that are happening among us. I'm hoping that in a short period of time, other primary and high schools will benefit from such a programme from the Government of Jamaica."