September 19, 2014
Digicel rewards teacher with 4G handsets

The 636 teachers who fully participated in special Information and Communication Technology (ICT) training workshops over the summer vacation have been congratulated by Digicel SVG country manager John Gidharry.

The teachers have also been rewarded and this week began receiving free 4G handsets{{more}} (Samsung Galaxy Ace 4 Lite) compliments Digicel.

Over the summer vacation, ICT workshops, a collaborative effort between Digicel, the Ministry of Education and the National Centre for Technological Innovation, were held.

The workshops, sponsored by Digicel, at the cost of EC$324,000, were held to complement the distribution of 15,000 laptops that were given to the nation’s students through the “One Laptop per Student” programme.

The workshops sought to ensure that teachers were competent in using the laptops provided to teach and assist the students.

Speaking at the ICT Integration Award Ceremony on Friday, September 12 at the Murray Heights Hotel, McKies Hill, Gidharry said that Digicel was pleased to be able to join with the teachers and share their achievements.

“This marks another milestone for teachers in St Vincent and the Grenadines as you take your rightful positions as ICT educators and pass on the knowledge and skills that you have gained to the youth as we build e-communities,” said Gidharry.

“Digicel loves to give back, hence our linkage with the vision of the one laptop per student initiative. We are focused on developing communities through education and we have formerly delivered on providing the EC$324,000 towards the training,” stressed Gidharry before presenting the cheque to Minister of Information Technology Senator Camillo Gonsalves.

Speaking at the function, Gonsalves said that the training workshops were a fantastic accomplishment made possible by a brainstorming session between Digicel’s chair Dennis O’Brien and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

“This was made possible by discussions between O’Brien and PM Gonsalves…it is a success and a groundbreaking initiative,” said the Senator, who added that when O’Brien heard about the laptop initiative and the training of the teachers, “he was impressed and we discussed the teachers’ aspect and how we were going to prepare the teachers.”

He added that the Government told O’Brien that they thought it would be difficult to find the money to train the teachers, while they thought it possible to find an incentive, as the training would have to take place over the course of summer.

“O’Brien asked about cost and when we told him that it would be between US$120,000 to US$150,000, he said Digicel will provide money and give 4G ready Samsung phones to every teacher that completes the programme,” said Gonsalves.

“700 phones are not cheap…and the cost over EC$320,000 for the education…we are very grateful about the commitment, it was a phenomenal investment and it was hatched over a space of half hour and I was amazed at how willing Digicel was to commit to ICT in our secondary schools,” said Gonsalves.

He added that while the phones were a nice touch, the PM was always of the view that teachers would not need the added incentive to attend the training.

“The Government believes that we are at a very exciting crossroads for education and ICT and we think that we can be the gold standard in the Caribbean in terms of integrating ICT in the curriculum and producing students that are tech savvy and willing to embrace the opportunities in ICT,” Gonsalves stated, while adding that no sector in the country will proceed without ICT.

“So, the role of teachers is to make students comfortable with technology and make them see it as any other tool, like a pen, pencil or book,” said Gonsalves.

Meanwhile, education officer with responsibility for Information Communication Technology Channyatt Ramsamooj said that the partnership with Digicel helped the Ministry of Education enhance the competence and confidence of the teachers in implementing ICT in their professional roles and development.

She said that the workshops ran from July 28 to August 22 and catered for 700 secondary school teachers, but only 636 completed the training.

She said that they were able to enable teachers to be sufficiently prepared, confident and competent in making full use of the laptops which were distributed to teachers and students.

The workshops taught teachers to use laptops competently in the classroom, and they also helped with ICT literacy and confidence among teachers, while giving insight on different types of ICT tools that can help improve and enhance ICT teaching and learning.

“Skills and confidence were boosted at the end of the workshops”, said Ramsamooj, who revealed that the training was done by 19 facilitators.

She added, however, that some teachers only took part in two or three days of training and they were flagged as teachers who will continue the sessions when the Ministry conducts other sessions.

Ramsamooj added that principals have been advised to deliver in-house training to make up for the missing days. The workshops, which were held in five-day sessions, had three days of technical training and two days of ICT integration and how to develop ICT enabled lesson plans.