Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, said the initiative forms part of efforts to reduce the amount of money that is spent by parents on textbooks for children.
“What we have done in this phase is to purchase a lot of the content and a lot of it is externally driven and on Wednesday morning, we are going to be signing contracts for $70 million for e-books that will be placed on the tablets so that very soon, the youngsters won’t need to purchase textbooks at all; they will all be loaded on the tablets,” he said.
The Minister noted as well that agreements will also be signed with several local content providers, pointing out that they have approached the Ministry with useful and dynamic applications that will also be placed on the tablets. He added that this will enable the Government to create a diverse learning environment for youngsters.
“We really want to get out of spending so much money on foreign content. We really want to see how we can provoke Jamaicans to look at the school curricula and to see how we can creatively transform the written curriculum into ICTs (information communication technologies) using video, word, pictures and so on, to transmit learning in a different way,” he said.
The distribution of computer tablets comes under the Government’s $1.4 billion Tablets in Schools pilot programme.
The one-year pilot is being carried out in 38 educational institutions to benefit 24,000 students and 1, 200 teachers in six pre-primary, 13 primary, five all age and junior high, and 12 high schools; one teacher’s college; and one special education institution.
The Minister noted that since the distribution of the tablets, the students, particularly the boys, have been reacting in a very positive way towards school.
“This learning environment is creating a level of interest that we haven’t seen in a while and it is important that we capture that and we stimulate that, so content is going to be very critical and the content has to be dynamic,” he said, encouraging local content providers to take advantage of the opportunity.
The Tablets in Schools pilot programme, being implemented by E-Learning Jamaica Limited, also involves the distribution of computers and multimedia devices, including interactive white-boards/projectors, scanners and printers to pre-primary and primary schools. This is in addition to the installation of Wi-Fi at all 38 educational institutions.
Following a review of the pilot, the programme will be fully implemented across the island, to benefit 600,000 students and teachers.
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