Fri | Jul 23, 2021

Appeal on for donations of digital devices

Published:Saturday | June 19, 2021 | 12:06 AM

Ottawa:

Jamaica’s high commissioner to Canada last week again appealed for donations to purchase tablets and laptops to support the Government’s ongoing efforts to provide a device for every child.

High commissioner Sharon J Miller made the call during a Canadian launch of the gov’t initiative – ‘A Device for Every Child’ on Saturday, June 5. The virtual event was staged by the High Commission of Jamaica to Canada and the Consulate General of Jamaica in Toronto, in partnership with the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations in Canada and Food For The Poor Canada.

Miller noted that schools have closed and teaching and learning moved online. “This necessary action has seen a significant number of children unable to participate in the learning process, but it has also provided an opportunity to close the digital divide, thus enabling our youth to secure their future.

“For students who have been thrust into an online learning environment, Internet connectivity is only one hurdle, lack of a device is a more pressing issue. The Jamaican Government is currently providing an estimated 150,000 devices to ensure no child is left behind. However, an additional 100,000 students require laptops or tablets to effectively participate in online learning for the academic year starting September 2021 or risk falling behind academically.”

In emphasising the dire circumstances, LaToya Harris, director of donor and partnership management at the National Education Trust in Jamaica, shared that some 122,000 children across the island, “have not had any contact with the [education] system since March 2020 and a lot of those students are without devices”.

Harris also said that the Government has met only 17 per cent of the target to provide 100,000 devices.

During the launch, Samantha Mahfood, executive director, Food For The Poor Canada, encouraged attendees to become fundraisers for Jamaican children and spread the word about the three-month campaign. “The long-term effect on children is that they have lost a year. Let’s do anything we can to make this year stronger and help them catch up. I am asking you to donate today, but I also want you to reach out to a friend, a family member, a co-worker and try and raise enough money for at least one tablet or even 10. If you need to, talk to a fundraiser at Food for the Poor Canada and we can help you to become a better fundraiser.”

Also making an appeal during the launch, Rhona Dunwell, president of the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations in Canada, and the current president of Knox Past Students’ Association – Toronto Chapter, noted the “unprecedented risk to children’s education, protection and well-being” and implored members of the Jamaican diaspora and wider community in Canada to donate by August.

The consul general of Jamaica in Toronto, Lincoln Downer, recognised the partner organisations and

donors for collaborating with the High Commission and Consulate General on this worthwhile initiative. He added, “Think of what your donation means to one child … it means they won’t be left behind, and you never know, that one child might become a world-changer.”

To date, CDN$1,765 of the CDN$25,000 target has been donated. Donations may be made at:

https://www.canadahelps.org/en/pages/a-computer-for-every-child/