My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Ministry of Science and Technology yet to announce Tablet Contractor - 400,000 Tablets for E-Learning II Project in 5 years as Test Pilot to end June 2014

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ministry of Science and Technology yet to announce Tablet Contractor - 400,000 Tablets for E-Learning II Project in 5 years as Test Pilot to end June 2014



“We are going to ask, those of you, who can assist, (to do so) because remember some of you pay $15,000 and $20,000 for books…you’re not going to have to pay that anymore. So if you are asked to pay, for the year…about $5,000 for your own Tablet for the advancement of your youngster…that (won’t) be (such a bad proposition),”

Minister Phillip Paulwell speaking on Wednesday July 3rd 2013 at the Graduation Ceremony at New Forest Primary, Junior High and Infant School in Manchester

The JA$800 million E-learning Project II to supply 400,000 Tablets to a select number of thirty five (35) High Schools in the Inner City as explained in my blog article entitled “Minister Paulwell gives Parliamentarians and 20,000 Students in 30 Schools Tablets- Future in Science and Technology now rescued Indiana Jones and the Palace of Doom” is currently under way, albeit a Contractor hasn’t been identified.


This as the calls for Contractors to submit bids to supply the Tablets has yet to materialize in the media or even on The Jamaica Information Service as reported originally in July 2013 as stated in “e-Learning Jamaica seeks Tablet supplier”, Published Wednesday July 10, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner.

That request for Contractors was made some four (4) months after Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell made the declaration on Thursday April 25th 2013 of his intention to spend the aforementioned amount on acquiring and distribution of the 400,000 Tablets over a five (5) year period. It’s now the end of November 2013 and STILL no news on the chosen Contractor!

Tablet Contractor still not mentioned – Ministry of Technology Silence of The Lambs

In fact, the last news on the E-Learning II Project from the (Government of Jamaica)’s official mouthpiece, The Jamaica Information Service is the article “E-Learning Jamaica Accepting Bids for Supply of Tablets”, published Friday, 05 July 2013 08:34 By Douglas McIntosh, The Jamaica Information Service. Currently, 30,000 have already been disbursed in September 2013 in an initial pilot programme which is slated to last for the Academic Year 2013/2014, ending in June 2014.

Most interesting of all is the Price: JA$5000 for a Tablet that heavily subsidized from prices which are typically JA$19,000 to JA$30000, based on prices I’ve seen in a few Computer stores in Half-Way-Tree. There are no shortages of Tablet Accessories; however, including Folio cases with a Keyboard attachment and Capacitive Stylus, as many Computer Retailers see to be anticipating a coming flood of inquiries and sales come next year when Tablet demand may begin to skyrocket.

What is known was what Minister Phillip Paulwell speaking on Wednesday July 3rd 2013 at the Graduation Ceremony at New Forest Primary, Junior High and Infant School in Manchester. The incumbent will have to supply Tablets at reasonable prices that are trackable, as a JA$5000 subsidized Tablet is an attraction to any thief. The technology built into the Tablets will have to make it possible to shut down the Tablets remotely, something fairly standard in Tablet that runs the Google Android OS.

The Tablets are also geared towards not being a distraction, suggesting that they will have software installed to block students going onto certain websites. Additionally, the Servers that provide Internet connectivity to the Wi-Fi Routers to be installed in the High Schools will have Internet content Filters to make it very difficult for students to abuse their access, guaranteeing the much hoped for results as it relates to improvements in Mathematics and the Sciences.

Benefit to Students – Cheaper e-books and renewed Mathematics and Science interest

The benefits to the students are clear: Cheaper Books and more student-centered learning, with the ability to take work home and Teachers/students to interact more via a Virtual Learning environment. E-Books also make the Tablets very attractive, being as they are cheaper than traditional books, albeit this may well be a precursor to e-book piracy in Jamaica as predicted in my blog article entitled “How to become an e-book Publishing House via e-book Piracy - Tablets in Schools sets the Stage for Rampant e-book Piracy”.

Already other schools are benefitting from initiatives led by Telecom Provider Digicel at Hampton high School in St. Elizabeth and Telecom Provider LIME at various Prep and Primary Schools as well as the UWI (University of the West Indies) as in the case of JC (Jamaica College).

Thus, based on what’s known on the ground thus far at these Schools, I expect greater improvements in Mathematics and Science subjects among students in the next five (5) years when this project gets off the ground. All that’s needed is a Contractor to supply the Tablets as per the Requirements of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining ……which they’ve yet to announce!
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