More than fourteen hundred students across the island will be able to get online for classes and take advantage of distance learning instructions following the donation of digital tablets from the Sandals Foundation.
The island’s numbers form part of more than two thousand (2,000) tablets which have been sourced to support the Caribbean’s online learning needs following the successful execution of the organisation’s Lessons Alive social media fundraising campaign.
In Jamaica, the devices were made possible through designated donations from Sandals Resorts International, major partners including Digicel Foundation, Rainforest Seafood, Fontana, Grab N Go, Fraser Fontaine, and Kong Insurance, Billy Craig Insurance Brokers, 4Ys Foundation, and CPJ, and an incredible network of Sandals and Beaches Resorts guests.
The devices will support vulnerable students at more than forty (40) schools across the parishes of St. James, St. Ann, St. Mary, Hanover, and Westmoreland. All have been equipped with the Ministry of Education Youth and Information’s e-Resource app as well as Digicel sim cards bearing two months-data plan.
Heidi Clarke, Executive Director at the Sandals Foundation says the initiative is part of the organisation’s sustainable investment in the region’s education sector.
“It was very important for us to help make the transition to online learning as easy as possible. The digital transformation within our education system is inevitable as more of our lives’ activities are being done online. We must ensure our children are digitally literate and there is equitable access to the technological tools so they can continue their learning,” Clarke says.
Since last week, sixty-eight (68) tablets were delivered to schools in Westmoreland and St. Elizabeth by Sandals Foundation Ambassadors from Sandals South Coast. The tablets will serve grade six students, who are just above the PATH threshold but whose needs were assessed and determined high priority by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.
Mordant Mitchell, Principal of Fyffes Pen Primary and Infant school in St. Elizabeth, welcomed the donation to his school and others in the area.
“Throughout Jamaica, I’m sure the concern over access to online classes for our students is very much the same, he says, but it was really a dyer effort by parents, teachers and students in this district for some help with securing digital tablets for our most needy students so when the Sandals Foundation reached out to us we were truly grateful.”
Ms. Anastacia Garrison, Principal of Caledonia All-Age in rural Westmoreland, also thanked the Sandals Foundation for the venture, noting that the digital tablets are really needed during this time especially for students preparing for their upcoming PEP exams.
And Charmaine Daniels, Chief Executive Officer at Digicel Foundation shared the importance of ensuring students are connected online as they study from home.
“So many of our students are struggling with connectivity and it’s important that we enable them with the right resources to ensure that no one is left behind. This partnership to provide both devices and access to data services is crucial to ensuring that our students are able to continue their education from home. We’re grateful to the Sandals Foundation for partnering with us and we look forward to maintaining this relationship as we work together to build Jamaica,” Daniels said.
In August, the Sandals Foundation launched the Lessons Alive social media campaign to help families across the Caribbean prepare for the new academic year and on October 5 expanded the reach of the campaign to target sourcing digital tablets to help with the growing remote learning needs.
The digital learning landscapes across the seven countries in which it operates – Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, The Bahamas, Grenada, Barbados, and The Turks & Caicos Islands were all assessed, and intervention provided as needed.