Tablets, laptops for 15 St James schoolsMonday, October 11, 2021
BY VENESHA MORRIS
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Richard Miller knows all too well how much good can come from acts of kindness. He's the principal of Farm Primary and Junior High School and when classes were first forced online because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, he immediately lost 63 per cent of his 276 students. Luckily, his appeals for help did not go unanswered.
“Less than half (100) of the school's population was online in the past school year and that was concerning to me. So as part of my mandate I sought help with donation of devices and Internet connectivity,” Miller said.
Now, he has 190 students regularly online. That number will increase thanks to last Friday's donation from Victoria House Foundation and Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities. Farm Primary and Junior High School was among 15 educational institutions in St James that received a total of 138 tablets and 25 laptop computers. Miller's school received five tablets and two laptops.
“This donation will help us to reduce the numbers of students who are disconnected… we truly appreciate this initiative,” said Miller, who is determined to keep working until the rest of his students once again have access to education.
Among basic schools that benefited from the donation are Adelphi Gardens, Providence Heights, Bethtephil, and Watson Town.
Six primary schools also benefited — Adelphi, Barrett Town, Buckingham, Sudbury, Dumfries, and Goodwill — while the high schools included Anchovy and Cornwall College. There was also one recipient from The University of the West Indies.
The sponsorship came from Victoria House Foundation whose mandate is “Advancing education through technology in public schools globally”.
Speaking at the handing-over ceremony, president of the foundation MacFarlane Okonta told students and educators present that while the education loss associated with the halt in face-to-face classes is substantial, his foundation stands ready to help with the technology needed to access education remotely.
“We will not allow COVID to win… Education is too important to be taken lightly,” he vowed.
Okonta also urged students to take care of their devices and “use them for the intended purpose”.
Meanwhile, Dr Yvonne Smith, chair of Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities, has pledged the group's continued support to needy students from St James.
“If you need any assistance with your education, we are here to provide as much as we can… Write a letter to the foundation, explain what you need and our scholarship committee will review your application and contact you,” she said.