Monday 26 October, 2020

Needy students to get $20k grant towards purchase of tablet/laptops

Fayval Williams

Fayval Williams

The Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams has announced that 36,000 students who are in need but who are not covered under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), will receive a subsidy of $20,000 towards the purchase of a tablet or laptop.

This has become necessary as students, who have been out of school since March 13 in response to Jamaica’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 three days earlier on March 10, prepare to resume virtual classes on October 5.

Williams, who was speaking Tuesday in the House of Representatives which resumed sittings at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, said the subsidy is in addition to the 40,000 tablets that have been procured for PATH students and which will be delivered as of October 2.

“There will be a registration process and criteria for the selection of the 36,000 students. We will announce the start date for the registration process,” Williams said in her statement to the House. She explained that there is a minimum specification for the tablets and laptops so that parents can be guided and do not end up with inferior equipment.

For tablets, the minimum specification is one gigabyte of memory, 32 gigabytes of storage and at least an eight-inch screen.

For laptops, the minimum specification is four gigabytes of memory and 500 gigabytes of storage. The laptops should also come with Intel I3 or dual core processors.

Williams said eLearning Jamaica has negotiated wholesale prices with selected vendors of the Jamaican equivalent of US$150 for tablets and US$460 for laptops inclusive of General Consumption Tax. There is also a 12-month warranty process.

“I am spelling this all out for the benefit of parents so that they have the requisite knowledge,” the minister said.

She also disclosed that the education ministry is in talks with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica to launch a ‘One-Laptop-or-Tablet-Per-Child’ initiative.

“We are calling on corporate Jamaica, NGOs, faith-based institutions, international development partners, private individuals and the diaspora to help us equip our students to be able to access online education,” she pleaded.

Williams said the ministry is “fully committed to providing the resources and helping the education system to transition to one that can effectively navigate the new normal.

“This requires us to pivot the odds in our favour and to capitalise on the seeds of opportunity through consultations and strategic collaboration," she said.

She said eLearning Jamaica and the Ministry stand ready to assist with the procurement of the devices.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: