US$5,000 online learning boost for Barrett Town All-Age students

US$5,000 online learning boost for Barrett Town All-Age students

Observer West writer

Thursday, February 04, 2021

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BARRETT TOWN, St James - The efforts of the Barrett Town All-Age and Infant School in St James to provide online learning to over 300 students amidst the novel coronavirus pandemic has been boosted with the donation of a computer laboratory valued at US$5,000.

The project, which entails the refurbishing of an existing room and the installation of 10 computers with Internet service, web cameras and a printer, was funded by Salamander Hotels and Resorts, the management company of Half Moon.

Principal of the school, Anthony Murray, argued that with the challenges faced with online learning, the laboratory has come at an opportune time for students who are currently preparing for the Primary Exit Profile exam.

The first component of the exam for grade six students—the ability test—will be held on March 25.

That test was originally scheduled for February 23.

A grateful Murray told the Jamaica Observer West that as of next week Monday, students who will be sitting the exam will be allowed to use the laboratory.

“You had students who we were not able to reach because of the fact that they did not have access to the Internet or devices at home. Those students will now be targeted. We will bring them in, maybe in groups of 10 so that we can social distance, and so that we can actually teach them from the lab so that they can continue their schooling,” stated Murray.

“So, they will benefit tremendously, especially our grades four, five and six who are our PEP students. So, those students who are challenged as it relates to devices and the Internet will be targeted and they will be benefiting from the use of the lab,” added Murray, who is also the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Rose Hall Division.

Grade six student, Britannia Brissett, noted that while she is not faced with challenges in accessing online learning, she is happy that her peers, who are not so fortunate, will now be able to do their work.

“I am very happy to have the computers here because a lot of students don't have the resources to do online school work and with the help of the computers, they can really benefit from it,” said Britannia.

Called the Guy T Steuart II Computer Laboratory, the facility was named in memory of Guy Steuart II, now deceased, who is a former chairman of Half Moon Jamaica, and a long-standing patron of the school.

Sheila Johnson, CEO and founder of Salamander Hotels and Resorts, spoke highly of Steuart II, who passed away last October.

“I was so sad when he passed away a few months ago and I went to Guy Steuart III (son) and said, 'What can we do to honour your father' and he said, 'He always wanted to put a computer lab in the school' and I said, 'Let me do that in honour of Guy Steuart II',” stated Johnson, noting that the facility will be maintained by Half Moon's information technology (IT) department.

For his part, Steuart III, who is now the chairman of Half Moon, stressed that his father was always fond of education.

For almost two decades, the Steuart's family has been contributing to the school.

“The investment in education runs very deep in our family. My uncle and grandkids about five years ago, to this day, donated over 500 books and school supplies for the library here and so this is a manifestation of the relationship that an enterprise has with its community. It is not just all take, take, you have to give,” Steuart III argued.

Barrett Town All-Age currently serves students from the communities of Barrett Town, Lilliput, Mount Zion and Cornwall — all in St James.

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