Williams welcomes start of 'Own Your Own Device' project

Williams welcomes start of 'Own Your Own Device' project

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, November 19, 2020

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Minister of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams on Tuesday welcomed the start of the Own Your Own Device (OYOD) project, which is aimed at providing 36,000 needy students, outside of the Government's welfare system, with access to the devices for classes.

Williams, who was delivering a statement inside Parliament, admitted that there were glitches affecting the OYOD website, but noted that she expected it would be up and running by nightfall to meet the demands of the students and their parents.

“I agree that we need to do everything to ensure that no child is left behind, but it is a big task to get the devices, whether it is laptops or tablets, into the hands of our students. But that is the goal of this Government that is what we will work to do,” Williams told the House of Representatives.

“As minister of education, I will not relent until all of our children have a laptop or tablet in their hands,” she stated.

But Williams argued that the country should be mindful that the lack of devices is only one of the problems affecting the programme.

“The connectivity is the other, and I know that Minister [Daryl] Vaz is running as fast as Usain Bolt, trying to get connectivity to the far corners of Jamaica,” added Williams.

She said the Government has an ambitious programme for a uniform broadband infrastructure to become available across the island. However, the minister admitted that it would take some time to fill out the infrastructure.

“I know it takes some planning, it takes a bit to get that in but, in the interim, while we are doing the planning the schools are being outfitted with satellite connectivity for the Internet. Already there are about 35 schools that did not have Internet connectivity last month, that have it today,” declared the education minister.

She said the Government is ensuring that other schools also have connectivity, and was mindful that it ought not to leave any student behind.

Opposition spokesman on education, Angela Brown Burke, suggested that the minister produce a report at the end of the exercise, to give a clear picture of how the tablets were distributed.

“I believe that when we are looking at benefits that go out to the entire population. It is important to keep all of us updated. So, we need a full report at the end of the day,” argued Brown Burke.

Updating the House on where the ministry is in terms of the plans for the use of eVouchers for the OYOD programme, Williams said that each Member of Parliament received 250 numbered application forms on Tuesday.

The minister noted that application forms should be distributed to only parents of students who are not on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education

All areas on the forms must be completed and forms must not be copied or reprinted. Forms copied or reprinted will be rejected as they will not bear the security feature.

The OYOD project is part of the Government's plan to target needy families who earn $25,000 or less monthly.

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