Corporate JA puts up $10M to back EduFocal's extension of free online PEP support

Corporate JA puts up $10M to back EduFocal's extension of free online PEP support

Sunday, March 29, 2020

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Award-winning e-learning company EduFocal Limited has received $10 million in cash from several corporate giants to help offset costs associated with its facilitation of free access to the platform and EduFocal L!VE online classes for the month of April.

The funds were offered by Wisynco Group Limited, Tru-Juice, National Baking Company Foundation, and JP St Mary's.

CEO/co-founder of the eight-year-old social learning community, Gordon Swaby said the collaborative approach stemmed from the high uptake of the service since Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the temporary closure of schools, effective March 13.

“The Ministry of Education was in dialogue with us as soon as the first COVID-19 case was confirmed on March 10. Our immediate concern was to assist with the consistent engagement of students preparing for the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) examinations, and so we agreed to waive costs for the announced 14-day school closure,” shared Swaby.

Since the free offering commenced on March 13, EduFocal saw a close to 30,000 peak in active parent user accounts for local students across grades four through six accessing the online learning community's extensive PEP practice tests and other learning resources.

“EduFocal offers a user-friendly platform with a sophisticated back-end which enables us to comfortably facilitate the full 2020 cohort of Jamaica's PEP students [approximately 120,000]. We were fully prepared to foot the cost to run the platform for the 14-day school closure which ended on March 26,” Swaby said.

However, since the Government's announcement of the extension of school closures until the end of Easter (late April), to further reduce the pace of local transmission of the highly contagious novel coronavirus, EduFocal lobbied for support from corporate Jamaica to extend the free service for an additional 30 days.

“The Wisynco Group, JP St Mary's, Tru-Juice and National Baking Company Foundation had no hesitation with supporting the cause. We laud them because, as employers of thousands of Jamaicans, they too are facing challenges during this crisis. I find comfort in knowing that many of their employees have children who are preparing for PEP, so the service will be beneficial to them as well,” explained Swaby.

Further, the CEO outlined that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI) will provide teachers conducting live classes as an added incentive during the 30-day period. Close to 200 teachers were recently trained to deliver virtual lessons to students in light of the COVID-19 outbreak in Jamaica.

According to Karl Samuda, minister with responsibility for education, “We welcome the support that our private sector partners, Wisynco, National, JP St Mary's and Tru-Juice have pledged. Their support will ensure that our children have more options for seamlessly accessing appropriate educational content during this period of disruption. We also commend EduFocal Limited, one of our earliest partners in this crisis, for continuing to work with the ministry in support of our students.”

EduFocal anticipates an uptake of approximately 60,000 students over the period.
The PEP Ability Test was conducted on February 25, 2020. The MOEYI is expected to announce new dates for the Performance Task and Curriculum-Based tests, originally scheduled for March 19 through to June 26.

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