Education Minister Anthony Boatswain has acknowledged that the ruling New National Party (NNP) government has failed to deliver on its promise to provide the nation’s children with Tablets but said it is still on the cards.
Addressing reporters at the weekly post-Cabinet press conference, Minister Boatswain could not say when schools will see the introduction of laptops and tablets as promised on the campaign trail by the NNP in its landslide victory in the 2013 general elections.
The initial promise was to provide the students with laptops but months after getting into office it was changed to the provision of tablets.
The Minister told reporters assembled at the Ministerial Complex on Tuesday that it would not make sense at this moment to have laptops and tablets in schools.
He said the promise was not made recklessly by NNP in the campaign as government appreciates the fact that the infusion of tablets in the schools will contribute significantly to the enhancement of the quality of education.
He stated that government is still committed to the promise but there are challenges that are preventing it from actually coming to fruition.
“We do not want to repeat the mistakes of neighbouring countries… (because) they said the biggest mistake they made was to introduce the tablets and laptops in the school without adequate preparation”, he said.
“We do not have the correct infrastructure in place as yet – we are now working with the World Bank to ensure that we have proper, adequate things in place”, he added.
He spoke of a number of issues that will first have to be addressed in order to facilitate the introduction of the tablets in the school system.
He said: “…To introduce tablets now, the content, the security measures, we have to ensure that all of that are in place before we can launch the tablet. We have to train our teachers, that (has) to be (an) ongoing process”.
Minister Boatswain gave assurances that once the proper infrastructure is put in place then the tablets and laptops will be introduced.
“The launching of tablets in schools is not practicable, it is not feasible and it will not make much sense so we are putting the necessary infrastructure in place and once that is done we will introduce it.
“That is an inevitable direction in which we have to go but in the meantime we are exploring other means, other alternatives whereby we can use the same technology and we are working with the Commonwealth…they are coming together to see how we can go the route of using open education resources to ensure that our students are exposed to new learning and teaching techniques as well in the ICT platform.
During a recent visit to the island, embattled Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro announced that he would provide the tablets as a gift to Grenada.
The Venezuelan leader handed over a limited amount of tablets to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell as a gesture of the commitment made by Caracas.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Senator Simon Stiell who also attended the press conference echoed the sentiments of the Education Minister.
He said that providing the tablets and laptops is the easy part of the process but the major issue is putting into place the right infrastructure within the school system.
“The difficult bit is ensuring as Minister said that there is the human capacity within our classrooms to be able to use the new technology – that the infrastructure and the support infrastructure and the content is not this straight forward thing and we said we do not want to make the mistakes that other countries have made,” he said.
The NNP has two more years in office to make good on its campaign promise.