BUFF BAY, Portland — Encouraged by Lifespan Spring Water's donation of six smart boards to Buff Bay Primary School, Minister of Science, Energy and Technology Daryl Vaz is hoping to see more private-public partnerships.
"We live in a digital age and access to Internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity. The COVID experience has taught us that and showed us how far behind we were," he said.
"Out of adversity always comes opportunity. The opportunity for Jamaica is to catch up and get on top. I am making sure that we have broadband in every nook and cranny in Jamaica. I want to thank wholeheartedly Lifespan for their generosity in donating these smart boards to Buff Bay Primary School."
Vaz, who is also the Member of Parliament West Portland, was speaking during a recent ceremony to present the school with the equipment that is valued at $2.5 million. Lifespan partnered with his ministry's Universal Service Fund (USF) on the initiative. USF provided the school, and the wider community, with Wi-Fi.
During the handover, CEO of Lifespan Jamaica Limited Nayana Williams explained why the project was important. There are benefits, she said, to using technology to support education.
"I saw this as an opportunity to give back to the community because these children are the future of Jamaica and we needed to play a part in that," she said.
Lifespan, Williams added, has a history of similar donations.
"We were one of the first companies to distribute tablets to students at the start of the pandemic," she said, referencing COVID-19.
"We see this as a great [and] necessary investment in cutting-edge technology and we thank you, Buff Bay Primary, for giving us an opportunity to serve," she said.
According to Williams, the school's vice-principal reached out for help during the pandemic and, despite Lifespan's own challenges with its supply chain, the company decided to help. The CEO tapped into her contacts in China to source the smart boards.
Like Vaz, she is hoping other companies will get involved.
"I want to appeal to other private sector organisations to come in assist as we could only assist in [donating] six at this time," she urged.