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Tablet drive for private schools on agenda

Published:Wednesday | November 11, 2020 | 12:12 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

The Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA) will be launching a programme for private-school students similar to the Ministry of Education’s current One Tablet or Laptop Per Child initiative, aimed at facilitating distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

JISA President Dr Faithlyn Wilson made the announcement on Sunday while addressing a church service at the Philadelphia Life Centre in Ocho Rios, St Ann, held to mark the start of JISA’s annual week of activities under the theme ‘Private Education in Jamaica, The True Story’.

“We do have needy children within private institutions,” said Wilson. “Many of our children are attending without paying fees, so we are just trying to meet the needs of our children.”

Quizzed by The Gleaner on the specifics of the planned launch, the JISA president said the full details will come after an assessment by the organisation’s regional coordinators is completed.

“We do not have a number [of tablets for distribution] as yet, but what we are trying to assess is how many children per region to impact. We have regional coordinators based on the Ministry of Education’s regions, and each regional coordinator is required to get us that kind of data and to work within the region to see what information we can collect per region,” said Wilson.

The project is in its initial stages, The Gleaner understands,

“We are waiting to get that data to finish the planning,” said Wilson.

40,000 tablets for distribution

Under its ongoing distribution programme, the Government plans to distribute tablets for 40,000 public-school students under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).

That distribution programme, funded through the National Education Trust, was launched on October 22 to augment the 18,000 tablets and 12,000 desktop computers already in the school system. Additionally, 4,000 special-needs students are to receive specially designed equipment so that they can take part in digital learning.

Wilson also told Sunday’s church service that the JISA is contemplating the launch of a co-operative credit union to provide financial support for the 150 schools the entity currently represents. There are approximately 600 private schools in Jamaica.

“JISA is exploring the idea of launching a co-operative credit union to benefit member schools, so in the event we have anything near what we are experiencing now, we could turn to that co-operative to give us some support,” said Wilson.

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