The training capacity at two Corporate Area institutions has been boosted by the provision of an equipped computer room and learning software valued at approximately C$47,000, by the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica.
The Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Impaired on Mannings Hill Road, and Faith United Basic School in Washington Gardens, are the beneficiaries of the provisions, financed under the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).
Under the CFLI, the High Commission procured and installed 25 Job Access with Speech (JAWS) Windows screen reading software at the Salvation Army School, at a cost of C$27,000. The Faith Basic School has been provided with a computer room, outfitted with 15 desktop computers; one laptop computer; 15 chairs; four tables; one multimedia projector; and an air conditioning unit, at a cost of C$20,000.
Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, His Excellency Robert Ready, visited both institutions on Monday, March 18, where he viewed a demonstration of the JAWS application being used by students at the Salvation Army School, while he officially opened the computer room at Faith Basic School.
Speaking at the Salvation Army School, Mr. Ready underscored the importance of implementing initiatives such as the JAWS assistive technology.
He explained that it will enable blind and visually impaired students to use computers and the accompanying applications to compose and read documents and send and receive e-mails. Additionally, he said, it will boost their educational potential, and enable them to work in a technological capacity.
Principal, Esmie Taylor, also underscored the accruable benefits of JAWS, noting that it will enable the students “to have better access to education”, and thus “equip them for life.”
“It will (also) assist the teachers greatly, because they will now have technology to enhance learning, in that they are able to communicate by the computer, with their students,” Mrs. Taylor said.
There are some 137 students enrolled at the Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, inclusive of 90 boarders, with 18 teachers on staff.
Over at the Faith United Basic School, Principal, Thelma Facey, said she was “overwhelmed” by the donation of the computer room, describing it as another milestone achievement in the institution’s history.
“This is now another step, an even bigger step. Our children will now learn to use the computer; for some of them…it will be their first time. They will learn from it so that when they go on to the primary schools, the high schools, when they go out into the world, at least, they will have that knowledge that they have grasped from us here,”
Ms. Facey said, while expressing gratitude to the Canadian High Commission.
In his remarks, Mr. Ready expressed the hope that the students “will get a great deal of use out of it and that it will be an important learning tool as you start your long road of education.”
The CFLI, operated by the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica, provides funding and other inputs for small scale local projects at the community level, including schools.
By Douglas McIntosh