Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Gov't seeking support for schools' Internet project
Observer Reporter
Friday, October 04, 2002



WESTERN BUREAU -- The government is currently in discussions with a number of Internet service providers in an effort to provide Internet access free of cost to the island's schools, according to technology minister Phillip Paulwell.

He was speaking on Wednesday at the handing -- over ceremony of computer laboratories to the Friendship and Bethel Town schools in Hopewell, Hanover.

"We are already in dialogue with a number of Internet providers for them to offer free Internet access to our schools and already Cable and Wireless has shown an interest," the minister said.

"We are therefore throwing out the challenge to the over 30 ISP's (Internet Service Providers) to take up the challenge of offering the service free to the schools," he added.

Paulwell said the government was committed to a high standard of education and the provision of free Internet service in the island's schools would play a vital role in achieving this goal.

Noting that a number of schools, especially those in the rural areas, were without telephone service, the minister pointed out that by the middle of next year, all schools would have the opportunity to get Internet access. With the liberalisation of the telecommunications market due to come onstream next March, government expects that there will be an influx of companies providing telephonE service, including Internet connections.

"By June 2003 we are going to have both wired and wireless internet access, so you won't have to depend on a land line to access the Internet. The commitment we are making is that by then, every single school in Jamaica will have the option of getting what we call 'high speed Internet access' and you will be able to get your service from a number of service providers," the minister said.

Paulwell, in the meanwhile, urged the students of Friendship and Bethel Town to make good use of the computers.

He pointed out that in most cases the schools that have access to computers are the ones that are showing marked improvement in learning.

The gift of 15 computers to the schools forms part of a $45-million initiative by the National Housing Trust (NHT) to assist schools across the island with their computer education programme.

Nineteen schools have so far benefited from the programme.