Saturday 8 August, 2020

Over 100,000 laptops and tablets coming for needy students - Samuda

Karl Samuda (File photo)

Karl Samuda (File photo)

The Minister of Education, Karl Samuda, has announced that over 100,000 laptops and tablets are to be made available to students as the COVID-19 pandemic has created a heavier reliance on technology in the education system.

Samuda, who was making his contribution to the 2020-2021 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said: “Our schools are now requiring that students have access to a dedicated tablet or a laptop for computer-based learning. As a Government, we recognise that not all children will have access to these devices. That is why we are in the process of procuring over 100,000 laptops and tablets for our most vulnerable students. We have commenced the procurement for 77,000 tablets for students up to Grade 9, and 25,000 laptops for students from Grades 10 to 13.”

Samuda said the devices are to be distributed on a phased basis beginning in late August. Students on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) are to receive the devices.

Meanwhile, the Bring Your Own Device Policy (BYOD) has been approved, and is to be sent to schools during the course of this week. This is to allow parents to purchase computers based on provided specifications. Students are also to have access to the ministry’s textbooks and additional content through the devices.

Additionally, E-Learning Jamaica continues to deliver 25,000 tablets to the island’s teachers.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, in partnership with existing providers, is to procure and fully establish a National Learning Management System (LMS), said Samuda. This is to allow schools to continue to use systems they already have, and for the ministry’s officers to be able to track and monitor the activities of the system and to obtain data to inform interventions.

“The National Learning Management System will allow teachers to create, deliver and manage lessons and other training materials for students and teachers. School leaders will be able to use it to set and track assignments, track performance, post video clips, pictures and animations. They will also be able to generate discussions around those focus areas,” said Samuda.

He also expressed that teachers who have comorbidities can use the LMS to deliver their lessons, and children who are home-schooled because of comorbidities can also access the LMS during the transition period.

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