Schools moving ahead with plans to improve ICT status

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Schools moving ahead with plans to improve ICT status

BY KIMBERLEY HIBBERT
Senior staff reporter
hibbertk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, October 18, 2020

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SOME public schools are forging ahead with plans to improve their information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure to be able to efficiently deliver distance learning, as institutions continue to operate in a virtual space.

Despite a reduction in income from contributory fees, which would normal be used to offset the costs of such improvements, the schools' representatives said they had found creative means of funding to undertake various ICT projects, as many teachers, and in some instances students, utilise the compounds for online classes.

Calabar High Principal Albert Corcho said improvements to the ICT infrastructure at Calabar were being done to ensure if the COVID-19 challenge persists for a long time, the school will have adequate coverage.

“At Calabar we have spent and will be spending some additional funds to increase the expenditure in terms of upgrading the Internet. We have asked the Ministry (of Education) for funding, and we know they are really trying, but we have put in place plans to upgrade the system and those funds will come from the coffers of Calabar,” Corcho told the Jamaica Observer. “We anticipated that was going to happen so what we did was to ask our parents to pay what we call a technology fund and we got some funding from that...that contribution is a buffer, which will be used to do the additional outlay. We are putting in the infrastructure to ensure if we have to continue online for a long time the infrastructure will be at Calabar.”

But, Corcho said these improvements are of paramount importance as there are students with grave challenges that the school has had to find unique ways of reaching them.

“We have a couple students who come in to us and we allow them to use the lab. We have worked out with two of our churches and they have made available their Internet and we have few students benefiting from that,” Corcho told the Sunday Observer, while explaining that approximately 50 per cent of his students are still off the grid as parents simply do not have the tools needed to access online classes.

“It is a serious concern but we have put measures in place for parents to come and pick up work. Through the Guidance Department they will be driving around dropping off work. Our old boys have come on board and we have been distributing the tablets and laptops, but it is not enough. As a result we have to improve our infrastructure and see if we can create more access points for some of our boys,” Corcho stated.

Kevin Facey, principal at Meadowbrook High, said improvements to the school's ICT support to ensure online classes can be had without disruptions, saw the institution footing a close to $2-million bill, as rewiring and reconfiguring of existing Internet servers had to be done.

Facey said the improvement was necessary as some teachers had to utilise the school compound to be able to conduct online classes.

In addition to physical improvements at Ardenne High, Principal Nadine Molloy said “optimum technology coverage” is a priority area.

“When the students return we are going to have to have optimum technology coverage. We have to look at that as well — the number of access points we will have around the school so that students can actually use their device in different areas of the school,” she said.


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