While he urged residents to donate laptop computers to senior school students, education minister Myron Walwyn said those students will be allowed to use cellular phones in class, adding that Government has scrapped certain fees relating to technology in the education system.
According to him, technology is being used to help supplement teaching time lost.
There has been a protracted delay in the start of the school year, initially because of damage caused by a tropical wave, followed by two major hurricanes in the last two months.
“We will be allowing senior school students to use their cell phones as a resource during class lessons. We recognize that there will be some challenges, but our job is to address challenges – not run away from them,” Walwyn said.
“It is our plan to assist particularly our grades 11 and 12 students with laptops to assist in the additional learning material that they will need for their senior school programmes. I am taking this time now to ask persons who may be listening to us to please assist us by donating laptops to assist our students.”
Walwyn also said his ministry will use ‘much more’ of the recently announced online Learning Hub platform.
“We’ve already spoken to the platform developers in Jamaica, and we will be loading more content on to the platform so both students and parents can have access to supplemental learning information. The government will be waiving all subscription costs to the Learning Hub so that all students in our education system can have access to the learning material online,” the minister said.
He previously announced that parents would have been charged $5 per month or $60 a year for their children to fully use the system. The education ministry had promised to also contribute $2.50 or $30 per year for each student registered.
Walwyn, in a statement this week, further said: “I have started discussions with one of our internet services providers and will be speaking with others to ensure that we have WiFi available at school locations during and after school, so that students who do not have access to the internet can still be available to access our online learning platforms.”
The minister said senior secondary school students will also be able to use an online content portal developed by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC).
He said the portal will be used to ‘provide instructions on all subjects being offered in senior school in preparation for CSEC (Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate) and CAPE (Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination).”
“We have subscribed to this and will be covering the subscription fee for all senior school students. So, as we can see, even though the school day will be shortened based on the exigencies of our situation, plans are in place to supplement the loss in direct instructional time. We will be relying heavily on parents and guardians to support us with these programmes,” Walwyn added.
He said junior secondary school students will still receive the digital textbooks that were promised before the hurricanes.
“Earlier this year, we ordered digital textbooks for grades 7 and 8 students across the territory, and they will be arriving on island within the coming week. These devices do not require the use of the internet, and will prove to be invaluable to our students at this time.”
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