Last updated: 17.04.12

Online learning to reach Jamaican primary schools

Primary school teachers in Jamaica have been encouraged by the nation's government to use e-learning tools.Education minister Ronald Thwaites urged educators to utilise this facility during an address at a campus in Kingston, at an event marking the opening of the St Joseph's Teachers College Symposium 2012.An online learning course is being extended to support the education of the youngest students at the 700 primary schools on the island, with this expansion occurring when a current review of the scheme is completed.Mr Thwaites said this is scheduled to happen at the end of the academic year.Currently, the e-learning project is focused on pupils in secondary education and there are more than 200 high schools in Jamaica.The minister claimed support is urgently needed in improving the teaching of numeracy and the assistance provided by the online learning technologies could be used for this purpose.Initially, the virtual learning environment project was set up through a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and private enterprise the E-Learning Jamaica Company, using modern computing services to boost the academic potential of high schools.Finance for the programme was received through the Universal Access Fund Company, which has also helped educational establishments install broadband internet connections.Minister of science, technology, energy and mining Philip Paulwell said during the first meeting of the E-Learning Jamaica Company earlier this year that the expansion of the initiative into early childhood learning centres and the primary education sector should occur speedily.He called it a "massive exercise that is arguably the single-most impacting education project".The Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications had previously pointed out the youth in Jamaica are "already immersed in technology, [so] the use of modern methodologies in the classroom is a natural move towards enhancing the learning process".Furthermore, the "entertaining approaches to learning" offered through online training courses should help to stimulate academia and "excite young minds to embark on a quest for knowledge", the ministry added.