Education State Minister Alando Terrelonge disclosed yesterday that Cabinet has approved the acquisition of 100,000 tablets to be handed out to students as schools remain closed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Forty thousand tablets will be available by June – with the first 16,000 arriving “soon”.
The state minister made the disclosure yesterday as part of a panel of medical experts and that included Prime Minister Andrew Holness at a coronavirus digital town-hall meeting streamed live via the PBCJ YouTube and television platforms.
Terrelonge said that the ministry will continue monitoring the spread of the disease and will be better informed through discussions with officials of the health ministry regarding when a date for regular schooling is to resume.
In the meantime, Terrelonge is encouraging school-age children to utilise the ministry’s website to access necessary information.
He is also asking that parents tune into RJRGLEANER Group station Television Jamaica, the EduFocal website, and a host of other available prescribed educational programming portals.
“We know that not everybody has a computer or a laptop or smartphone, and depending on where you live, signal for the Internet may not be reliable.
Discussions are reportedly under way between Technology Minister Fayval Williams, cable network providers, and the National Works Agency to expand the fibre-optic cable footprint.
The education ministry moved early in March to postpone the sitting of the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) exams because of the threat posed by COVID-19. In addition, the sitting of Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate tests and Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examinations have also been suspended.
“We will give you more advice and more updates as soon as we get more information,” Terrelonge told the town hall.
He said a possible date in June is being looked at for the sittings.
Terrelonge said that Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) students should by be aware of television time slots for subject areas to be covered and that the Government of Jamaica, along with regional CXC partners, was mulling over feasible options.
The Jamaican authorities and its regional partners are looking at postponing CXC exams until June or July.