Ministry of Education to distribute 7,000 additional laptops to students


HARD TO FIND: Customers look at computers and laptops on display at PriceSmart at MovieTowne in Port of Spain in September 2020. As more students and workers rely on the devices for everyday activities and learning , laptops have become expensive and scarce in TT with many retailers reporting that they have sold out over the past few weeks. File photo / Angelo Marcelle

The Ministry of Education is awaiting the arrival of an additional 7,000 laptops which will be distributed to students who have been selected using ministry resource criteria.

At a press conference at the ministry’s headquarters on St. Vincent Street, Port of Spain, on Friday, Information and Communications Technology Division Director Corey Belfon said the ministry expects the devices to ship in July 2022.

The director of the new educational technology unit, Avenelle Fortune-Johnsons, also said the pandemic underscored the importance of building education resilience in the education sector.

She said the ministry is developing its Student Learning Management System (SLMS) which will help teachers balance the electronic classroom and the physical environment and support a seamless transition between the two teaching modes.

She said the system will be rolled out in phases. “We are looking at a phased implementation with the first phase of schools, hopefully piloting their experiences, by the end of this term (in July). We hope to have all schools on board by September 2022.

The system currently targets 7,000 students and 100 teachers in 14 schools.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly said digital school records are key to the ministry’s efforts for a coeducational education system. “That’s been one of the sticking points, being able to formulate data into digital formats,” she said, adding that the ministry hopes 70 schools will be updated by September.

Belfon also highlighted some of the initiatives carried out by the ministry as part of the ministry’s digital transformation efforts.

He said the ministry, in conjunction with the Trinidad and Tobago Telecommunications Authority (TATT), during the pandemic had donated 10,000 devices in addition to 13,000 devices from donor companies.

Students and teachers also benefited from 10,000 MiFi devices and an additional 20,000 laptops for government students and teachers.

Belfon said the ministry has embarked on expanding wireless to 134 schools with a budget of $7.3 million, improving network infrastructure in schools to facilitate electronic testing and other services. . He said the project has been completed in 39 schools and the rest are expected to be completed by June 2022.

He said that the ministry, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), is also engaged in a connectivity campaign with 2 schools in each school district. The reader will allow schools to access secure internet hubs in their community schools. He said another 14 schools have been identified for site visits to expand the program and the first phase of the schools will be commissioned by July 2022.

Belfon also said the ministry is also working to complete the Secondary School Entrance Examination (SEA) portal for SEA result retrieval, which is expected to be online in time for SEA 2022 results in July. .

He said a student management system, piloted in 70 schools, aims to digitize school records and digital attendance.