Ministers from the Ministries of Education and Technology, which partnered to make the project a success, distributed the laptops to the teachers in short ceremonies held on April 4th.
Minister of Education and Information Hon. Nigel Carty emphasized that the programme was designed to ensure its sustainability. “The teachers are going to have full ownership of the laptops but only if they remain in the profession for one year after having received the computer,” he explained. He further stated that those who leave the profession prior to one year would have to return the laptops for the teachers who would succeed them.
Minister Carty thanked the technicians and other key persons involved in preparing the equipment for use and voiced special appreciation for Education Planner, Mr. Quinton Morton, for his leadership with the project.
Minister of Technology, Hon. Glen Phillip, told teachers that he was cognizant of the fact that “disseminating information to students can be intimidating”. He added that this phase of the project sought to gear teachers with the requisite tools by procuring software that would assist them in this regard. He revealed that the Ministry was in discussions with Microsoft and had acquired GIS software to give teachers the opportunity to become computer savvy.
An additional benefit of the programme was pinpointed by Minister Philip, that of the possibility for teacher/parent relationships to blossom as a result. He referred to the likelihood that teachers would now use the tool to communicate more frequently with parents by providing information on student behaviour, progress and attendance where necessary, whether for the purpose of encouraging or discouraging the behaviour.
The Minister also revealed that the third phase of the project was in its final stages before “roll out” which is slated for the start of the next school term. The component called EDUNET promises to provide free WIFI for the high schools as well as Teleconferencing and Text-Conferencing capabilities. Following verification checks to ensure that the project can be launched without hiccoughs and delays, the Minister said the Ministries were working closely with local telecommunications providers.
While the WIFI will initially be available on the school premises only. Government is currently in discussion with the telecoms providers to give both students and teachers access for a number of hours weekly to Internet while they are off the school premises.
The teachers are being encouraged to use the laptops in preparation of lesson plans as well as to do research, communicate with each other and with parents as well as simple record keeping.
Principal of the Basseterre High School Mrs. Carlene Morton expressed gratitude on behalf of teachers referring to the laptop distribution as a “Revolution in teaching and learning in St. Kitts and Nevis.” Mrs. Morton said, “It takes us outside the four walls of the school. There are so many roles and responsibilities that teachers have assigned to them that they can now do at home.” She added that they were waiting with baited breath for the launch of free WIFI with EDUNET for which all the required infrastructure had already been installed.
The headmistress issued a final challenge, “I appeal to all of us to acquire the requisite skills to ensure that we are able to deliver quality education to the students in our care using the technology and equipment that have been given to us.”
The principals of the other receiving high schools were equally appreciative.