Paulwell gives tablets to parliamentarians
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
PHILLIP PAULWELL may not have been able to announce lower electricity rates just yet, but he succeeded in illuminating Wednesday's sitting of Parliament when he presented tablet computers to parliamentarians, and spoke of 20,000 tablet computers to be delivered to 30 public schools - from basic to high schools.
The science, energy, technology and mining minister triggered laughter in a relatively quiet sitting when he revealed that the tablet contained the text of his presentation titled 'Fuelling for Growth'.
Paulwell disclosed that he extracted more than $800 million from the $10 billion in the Universal Access Fund to acquire the tablets for both the Government and public education systems. "The transition to e-government is now under way in earnest," asserted Paulwell.
He appeared to electrify the Parliament when he announced that low-performing institutions would be blessed with the tablets free of cost to brighten the prospects of students in these public schools in the coming year, and to start with a pilot project following the completion of E-Learning I.
"We will begin E-Learning II with the Schools Tablet Computer Programme," said Paulwell. "Under that programme, every single student and teacher at 30 schools - five early-childhood institutions; 10 primary schools; five junior high schools and 10 high schools - across the country will be given a tablet computer free of cost," said Paulwell.
He promised that the tablets would be Wi-Fi and 3G-enabled and energised with approved age-appropriate games and apps.
"I have a deep personal interest in moving government offices from paper to digital age," said Paulwell. "Time has come for us to make a quantum leap in the use of computer technology to create digital umbilical linkage between all government offices and state agencies."
Paulwell also sought to shed light on the new approach that would eliminate the need to spend $500,000 for a package of Hansard reports, which contains the verbatim report of parliamentary sittings.
The minister announced that, by the end of May, his ministry would be winding up the Central Information Technology Office, the agency originally tasked with coordinating the Government's ICT activities.
"We will complete the repositioning of Fiscal Services Ltd, the body previously responsible for the digital revenue functions of Government," he said.