Saint Lucia/February 13, 2021/Source: https://stluciatimes.com/
This week, Minister for Education Hon. Dr. Gale Rigobert reiterated her stance that simply providing a student with a laptop would not solve the challenges faced with E-Learning or ICT in Education.
Referencing her contribution to parliament in 2019, according to Dr Rigobert, what the Government has been rolling out is an extensive programme guided by an ICT in Education Policy which was approved in 2019.
On Wednesday February 3, 2021, the Department of Education received 5000 e-Books and MiFi devices procured by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC), through their Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Office of the Prime Minister, to the tune of over EC$5 million.
These devices, when handed over to students, will come equipped with the necessary books and curriculum, virtual labs, references and other content necessary to aid in teaching and learning.
The MiFi devices which were sourced through Digicel, will assist in connectivity for students whose parents cannot afford to do so.
The Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development, Honourable Dr. Gale Rigobert in receiving the devices, reflected then on her contribution in the House of Parliament (pre-Covid), where she outlined the vision for Saint Lucia’s Eco-System for ICT in Education.
“The vision,” according to Dr Rigobert, “necessitated not simply giving each child a laptop alone, but creating an environment that facilitated the comprehensive integration of ICTs through; Institutionalization of the supporting policy and legislations, the provision, installation, implementation of the infrastructural and technical framework and backbone, the remodelling of classrooms into e-classrooms” or smart classrooms, the acquisition of e-skills by students and the training for teachers and students to better leverage the technology”.
These components according to Dr Rigobert were well advanced before the global pandemic COVID-19, with the Department of Education laying the foundation with the ICT in Education Policy.
“The hashtag Educate Saint Lucia Initiative was also conceptualised and had ICT integration in the education system as one of the main pillars of action,” Dr Rigobert explained.
It was with that in mind that the Department of Education forged partnerships with friendly Governments such as Taiwan through the Taiwanese Embassy here and organizations such as USAID, the OAS, UNICEF, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) and others to fulfil this mandate.
“In fact, this is the third wave of e-Books that we are rolling out here, having started the first as a pilot project with the assistance of the Taiwanese embassy which saw form three students of eleven schools initially benefiting,” Dr Rigobert said.
Since the pandemic, the program was expanded last year to a second phase, which included upper form students preparing for CSEC.
Ahead of last week’s handover, a total of 3,000 e-books had already been distributed.
The e-books program is expected to eventually expand to include all secondary school students on island.
Besides the e-books, over the past three years the Department of Education has provided ICT training to teachers and students throughout the education sector in ProFuturo as well as training in robotics and computer programming for students through USAID.
Laptops have also been provided to hundreds of teachers and students as well as devices to special needs teachers and students across the island.
Over the years too, there has been increased bandwidth in schools through the GINet in collaboration with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the CARCIP projects, the objective of which is to increase access to broadband networks and advance the development of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) enabled services industry.
“We have also upgraded and retrofitted technical drawing labs at thirteen secondary schools, to meet the demands of new technology such as AutoCAD and have developed a digital literacy curriculum guide that will help provide a framework for digital literacy education at the lower secondary level,” Dr. Rigobert went on to explain.
Docente - Investigadora Educativa.
Doctora en Cs. de la Educación, Magíster en Desarrollo Curricular y Licenciada en Relaciones Industriales.