Tablets won't be taken from students, Williams assures parents

Observer writer

Friday, November 20, 2020

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LUCEA, Hanover — Education Minister Fayval Williams has sought to reassure parents that tablets presented to students under the e-Learning initiative will remain with them at the end of the school term.

According to the minister, she recently received a call from a parent who stated that she was told at a Parent-Teachers' Association meeting that the tablets would be taken away from students at the end of the term.

“Well, let me tell you, those tablets remain with the students. So, if you never heard it before, you are hearing it now. They remain with the students, so they have it at home over the break. Why would you want to collect them and have them stored at school? That doesn't make sense to me,” Williams said at a ceremony during which 800 tablets were presented to students of Lucea Primary School in Hanover, on Thursday.

She said the tablets are for the students to utilise for learning and also to occupy their leisure time.

“It is for the students to interact within their quiet time at home, rather than running up and down the street and getting into all kinds of mischief. They can be at home figuring something on the laptop, something that interests them. They can do research, they can do all kinds of things,” the education minister said.

“What we have to do as a ministry is to ensure that we direct them to the appropriate content and that we teach them how to keep safe while they are online and ensure that they don't inadvertently go to websites that they shouldn't go to,” she said.

Keith Smith, chief executive officer of e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited — the implementing agency of the programme — disclosed that a proposal was recently made for a mobile device that will monitor the tablets remotely and address any misuse of the device, such as the accessing of inappropriate content by students.

Additionally, the authorities would be able to track tablets if they are stolen.

Smith noted that his company has in place a service assurance help desk where the recipients of the tablets who may experience problems with the equipment can call in via WhatsApp or send a text for assistance.

Under the initiative, 40,000 students under the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education in grades four, five, and six are expected to receive tablets.

So far, 34,200 tablets have been distributed to students islandwide, while the others are scheduled for delivery over the next few weeks.

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