My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: 700 Tablets for East Kingston and Port Royal Primary Schools - Why Raspberry Pi Zero Great for Jamaican Secondary Schools

Friday, December 4, 2015

700 Tablets for East Kingston and Port Royal Primary Schools - Why Raspberry Pi Zero Great for Jamaican Secondary Schools

“I have decided to focus on primary schools because based on a pilot project we did, we realized that that's where we get the best results. There are some issues at the secondary level as we recognise that students are doing other things”

Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell speaking on his decision to focus on the Primary schools for the Table in School Program

The Government's Tablet in School Program is pushing ahead as planned.

This as seven hundred (700) more tablets are to be distributed in the New School Term in 2016 as noted in the article “Paulwell Reviews Tablets In Secondary Schools”, Published Friday December 4, 2015, The Jamaica Gleaner

The following primary schools in East Kingston and Port Royal are earmarked for the seven hundred (700) more tablets as follows:

1.      225 for Windward Road Primary
2.      180 for Rollington Town Primary
3.      80 for Elletson Primary and Infant
4.      80 for Norman Gardens Primary
5.      80 for Junior High and Holy Rosary Primary
6.      27 for Port Royal Primary

These are the same tablet that had been promised in September 2015 via a JA$23.8 million back-to-school education programme under the CDF (constituency Developement Fund) as noted in the article “700 Tablets for Schools in East Kingston and Port Royal”, published September 2, 2015 by Chris Patterson, The Jamaica Information Service.

This announcement comes four months after the results of the audit on the Tablet in Schools program highlighted the problems as well as the benefits of the program as noted in my blog article entitled “Audit of Public Health Care System revealed - How the Minister of Health plans to correct these problems”.  

Minister Paulwell, who has perused a draft copy of the Audit, has declared that theft has been extraordinarily low, quote: “A draft of the audit being done was sent to me yesterday. Separate and apart from that, the level of stolen tablets was very low. Out of 25,000, I gather that a little over 100 have been stolen. A number of them have also been recovered. one was even traced back all the way to Russia”.

Folks, that less than 0.4%! But with theft levels so low, why the focus on Primary schools?

Minister Paulwell to focus on Primary Schools - Why Secondary School Students need the Raspberry Pi Zero to learn Programming

Apparently this as a result of the findings from the Tablet in Schools Pilot programs. Apparently they also noticed that the Primary schools seemed to show the best results.

According Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell, the tablet benefits the primary school boys and girls and improves attendance, with none of the negative effects quote: “Reading has improved tremendously in addition to attendance in primary schools, however, we are going to need some time to think things through in terms of how we deal with the high school students as they are preoccupied with pornography and other things”.

Those negative effects seem to be shown by the Secondary School students. These Secondary School students, instead of seeing the tablet as an opportunity to learn, use it to access pornography websites. 

For this reason, Minister Paulwell has declared that the Secondary schools will not be getting any more Tablets under the Table in Schools Program.

Instead, he'll soon be issuing a RFP (Request for Proposals) to address the issue of pornography usage among Secondary school students to quote Minister Paulwell: “As such, I don't believe that it would be wise to expand the programme. Instead, we have to see how best we can iron things out so as to allow a smooth process”.

My suggestion?

Instead of tablet, the US$5 Raspberry Pi Zero would be a good fit for the Secondary School students as described in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “Why the US$5 Raspberry Pi Zero is perfect Programmer’s Gift for New Year’s 2016” .

It has no screen, runs on Linux and can only go online via their HDMI capable screen or Display. It's mainly a tool to learn programming, making it perfect for teaching Computing and Information Technology courses but also any other subject.

This as it could give all students low cost access to the Internet.

Expect more Tablets in 2016 the Year of the Monkey, to be going to the Primary schools in 2016, as the Secondary School have been “monkeying” around on the wrong side of the Internet on Government owned Tablets! Perhaps it’s time they got a taste of the Raspberry Pi!!!

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