The Government of Saint Lucia continues to steer the course to achieving a globally competitive education as 5000 e-Books and MiFi devices were officially handed over to the Ministry of Education. The devices which are equipped with learning tools and content aligned with upper and lower school curriculum were procured and donated by the joint efforts of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) through their Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Office of the Prime Minister.
At the handing over ceremony on Wednesday 3rd February 2021, Prime Minister Honourable Allen Chastanet said that these devices serve as a major thrust to bridging the digital divide and holistically improving the education system. “We’ve had a vision and passion to make sure that we can equip our young persons to be competitive on a global basis. Smart Saint Lucia is a major objective of this Government and it includes laying down the infrastructure to facilitate our ability to interact on a global level,” said Prime Minister Chastanet. “With climate change and other world events, we must embed resilience in everything that we do.”
The e-books will add value to the learning experiences of students as the devices are equipped with content for sixteen (16) CSEC subjects, exciting interactive learning tools and platforms which will ensure that students have equitable access to content. For teachers, it will allow them to engage in differentiated instruction and assessment for different groups of students also bringing ease to grading and data collection. Science students stand to benefit significantly since there are many simulations which will allow them to conduct labs repeatedly without exhausting resources. Parents also benefit as fewer textbooks will have to be purchased in the long run.
Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development Honourable Dr Gale T. C. Rigobert echoed the sentiments of the Prime Minister and expressed that upon assuming office, the “Hashtag Educate Saint Lucia Initiative” was conceptualised and had ICT integration in the education system as one of the main pillars of action.
“E-education can be described as an eco-system that has at its centre the integration of ICT made up of several components: infrastructure, connectivity and digital competency. Digital competency ensures that there is sufficient training for teachers and students to allow for them to better leverage the technology, not only the hardware but the software and other learning platforms that can enhance the learning and teaching experience. It is that comprehensive integration of ICT in education that has informed and undergirded the policy thrust of the Ministry.”
Also present at the handing over ceremony was Minister for Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation Honourable Guy Joseph who is the line Minister for the NTRC together with the chairman of the NTRC Lionel Ellis and governors as well as the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Education Michelle Charles.
Over the years, there has been increased bandwidth in schools through the GINet and CARCIP projects in collaboration with the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Digicel. Upgrading and retrofitting of technical drawing labs at 13 secondary schools to meet the demands of e-testing and the use and the Development of a Digital Literacy Curriculum guide that will help provide a framework for digital literacy education at the lower secondary level.
The Lernbook devices were supplied by Fortuna Pix Inc and the MiFi devices by Digicel Ltd Saint Lucia. The Ministry of Education is responsible for the distribution and will commence this week with form 4’s, with the form 3’s and 2’s to follow. Partnerships with international agencies will result in donation of tablets to primary school students in the coming weeks.