By Derrick Scott
[Washington, DC] – Students worldwide continue to navigate the online learning environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 300 students from various Jamaican schools benefitted from a donation of laptops and tablets valued at $JA11 million. Donations were made as a courtesy of the Union of Jamaican Alumni Associations (UJAA), New York.
President of the UJAA Lesley-Ann Samuels said the Laptop-‘N-Tablet programme was created by the Jamaica Alumni Associations. This, in an effort to support the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on the educational system. Especially in relation to teaching and learning remotely.
Assisting with Remote Learning
“As early as in July, the UJAA Board began looking at ways to assist schools and students. This included providing them with devices to help with remote learning. Then, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information announced their plan to procure units through their e-learning division. That plan had several changes in direction and the bottom line was that schools still would not have the units that were needed,” Ms Samuels lamented.
LAPTOP-‘n-TABLET PROGRAM Launched
She said the 61 member umbrella organization began “discussions and negotiations with the leading Computer Technology providers. In addition, alumni association presidents were having their own conversations with their principals. With a commitment from several members and negotiations with Dell and Best Buy, the first order was placed. A benefit agreement was made with members, and the LAPTOP-‘n-TABLET PROGRAM was in place.”
Ambassador Marks Elated
In reacting to the donation, Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Her Excellency Audrey Marks, said “such selfless act of giving back to their respective alma mater has not gone unnoticed.”
Marks noted that, “this latest contribution of tablets and laptop computers going to the neediest will certainly deliver a critical shot in the arm. Especially for these students to be able to continue their education with minimal interruption from the pandemic. The government, as well as the people of Jamaica – both those at home and in the diaspora – appreciates very much this helping hand. Thank you very much, UJAA, ” Ambassador Marks said.
Jamaica’s chief envoy to Washington explained that “the contribution also means a lot in terms of boosting the effort by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information and the government’s own thrust to provide tablets so students would not miss out on their education.” She further commended UJAA’s fundraising drives that include a major annual car raffle. The proceeds were divided among the various schools in Jamaica whose alumni are part of UJAA.