Basseterre, St. Kitts, August 14, 2016 (SKNIS): A new partnership between the Ministry of Education and Ross University will result in computer labs “in every school in St. Kitts and Nevis” upgraded with new computers and suitable software programmes to enhance the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the classroom.

 At Thursday’s (August 11) “ Discussions for Prosperity” town hall meeting in Sandy Point, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Honourable Shawn Richards, revealed that the project will get underway shortly and is expected to start with the Bronte Welsh Primary School.

 Some 900 hundred computers in total are expected to be installed in the first phase, Honourable Richards outlined. He said this new project complements the government’s prior actions to equip and upgrade existing school labs.

 “We have not only bought computers for the schools, but when we bought the computers we entered into an agreement with Microsoft to train teachers how to use those computers to integrate ICTs into the curriculum,” he stated.

 This development addresses a critical shortcoming of the One-to-One Laptop Project that was implemented from 2011 to 2014. A decision was made to discontinue the programme after the elections of 2015 after concerns raised in a UNESCO report were highlighted.

 “’Students were given laptops without a strong accountability maintenance structure,’” Minister Richards said, while reading from the report. “It goes on, ‘secondary school teachers received little or no training in how to use laptops in and outside of the classroom. Only secondary school teachers received laptops yet demands are made of all teachers, primary and secondary in St. Kitts and Nevis, to use technology in the classroom.’

 “But the report doesn’t stop there, it goes on: ‘these issues are indicators of serious shortcomings in approaching ICT education.’ It described the initiative as “well intended” but said the approach was ‘“uncoordinated’” and ‘“would almost inevitable lead to confusion, discontent and perceived, if not real, waste of resources if this has not already happened,’” Minister Richards read from the report.

 The integration of the new technology and software in all schools is expected to be more effective than the previous laptop distribution programme and will meet the government’s agenda of creating a stimulating and fun learning environment to positively influence student’s development.

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