E-LEARNING Jamaica Company Limited (e-LJam) has signed a two-year contract with United Kingdom publisher Nelson Thornes for the lease of an e-textbook used in preparation for the Caribbean Secondary Education (CSEC) Geography examinations.
The textbook, Geography for CSEC, which is on the Ministry of Education's list of recommended texts, will be made available online for students across Jamaica to download free of cost.
This means that thousands of students preparing to sit CSEC Geography in just over two months will be able to acquire the text as of next month.
Speaking at the signing last Thursday, Robert Philips, education specialist at e-LJam, described the provision of the e-book as "a phenomenal event for education in Jamaica".
Philips said an unlimited access licence was signed for the text, which means that "if there are 20,000 students doing geography they can access 20,000 copies of the e-book for use". These will become part of the various online resources available free of cost on their website at www.e-ljam.net.
Philips said, however, that the success of the venture would depend on more students acquiring ICT devices of their own so that they could depend less on computer labs at their schools.
He said training sessions had been arranged for school teachers and systems administrators to enable them to assist students in accessing the e-book.
Tom Cane of Nelson Thornes expressed satisfaction at the signing of the contract, adding that the agreement was to introduce Jamaican students to online books rather than solely a profit-making venture. "It's really to see how the students will interact with the technology," he explained. The contract was valued at £7,000, or just over J$1 million. He noted that it was the third contract signed with e-LJam by Nelson Thornes in three years, but "the first fully online textbook for Jamaica and the Caribbean".
The contract was signed on behalf of e-LJam by CEO Avrill Crawford and Peter Williams, head of Nelson Thornes International.
e-LJam is a government-owned company under the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, which is funded from the Universal Service Fund (USF). It is mandated to oversee the infusion of information and communication technology (ICT) throughout Jamaica through the implementation of a number of projects, the first of which is the High School Project which involves, among other things, the provision of ICT hardware and software as well as the development of digitised educational materials in 11 CSEC subjects to all high schools throughout the island.