A total of 1100 Chromebooks, valuing $27million, are to be distributed to students across the parish of St. Thomas, courtesy of American multinational technology company, Google.
The donation was secured by the St. Thomas Renaissance Foundation for its Mathematics Honours College programme in the parish.
The devices were handed over during a ceremony at the St. Thomas Technical High School on Friday (May 6), which was attended by the Minister of Education and Youth, Hon. Fayval Williams.
Minister Williams welcomed the donation from Google, noting that it aligns with the goal of the Ministry to ensure that each student is equipped with a technology device to support learning. She said that “technology will remain an important part of the education system” even after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Mrs Williams noted that the ‘One Laptop or Tablet Per Child’ initiative has made it possible for some 200,000 devices to be provided to students across Jamaica.
The Google Learning Management System is the platform utilised by the Ministry to connect Jamaican students with their teachers in the virtual space and was especially crucial over the last two years when lessons were conducted remotely due to COVID-19.
The Mathematics Honours College is a newly formed initiative of the St. Thomas Renaissance Foundation aimed at improving student performance in the subject. At its helm is a master mathematics teacher, Beverley Hyatt. Under the initiative, mathematics lessons and training are provided to selected groups of students from each high school in the parish, so that they, in turn, can mentor their peers.
The Education Minister applauded the programme, noting that it could potentially be replicated in other schools across the island. “We can take that from St Thomas as [the parish’s] gift for Jamaica,” she said.
President of the St. Thomas Renaissance Foundation, Professor Malton Edwards, beamed with pride as he spoke about Google’s investment in the parish of his birth.
“Google is a company that’s built on innovation, big ideas and risk-taking and those are the tenets of the St. Thomas Renaissance Foundation, so this really feels good,” he told JIS News.
He said that Minister Williams’ presence at the handover ceremony “says to our students and educators that the Ministry of Education and the Government are serious about their education and their future.”
Seven hundred of the 1100 devices will be distributed to seven high schools –Yallahs, Paul Bogle, Robert Lightbourne, Seaforth, Morant Bay, St. Thomas Technical and Happy Grove. Each school will receive 100 devices.
The remaining Chromebooks will support selected primary schools throughout the parish.