Today the Ministry of Education rolled out its Electronic Learning Devices Distribution to Secondary schools starting with the Cayo district. This is the first phase of the distribution and a total of 5000 devices will be distributed. The schools will then distribute the Logic T-10-L phablets to first and fourth form students who were selected through the Needs Survey previously conducted. The tablets were funded out of the $7 million Inter-American Development Bank loan that was set aside for other activities including the digitization of the education system. According to the Minister of Education Patrick Faber, the education of students has been impacted since March of this year and due to E-learning there is a Digital divide within students. These tablets will assist in bridging that gap.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Leader, United Democratic Party: “And the learning of our children since March has been an issue simply because our students cannot go into the classroom to recieve face to face instruction. So it is an emergency situation and it is because the learning of our children matters every day that our children are not in the classroom receiving face to face instruction they are falling further and further behind and so we cannot wait. In fact as it is since we have announced the government’s intention to fast track if you will the distribution of learning devices, because I want to make it clear the government’s intention to distribute electronic devices has bene in process for a while and my apologies to the Cayo district because your district was not a part of Digi Learn where we had several high schools mostly from the Belize district engaging in a kind of piloting and we would have rolled out eventually to the entire nation. In fact the plan that was scheduled would have seen forty three of our secondary schools receive those digital devices. But in a way COVID helped us to fast track what we’re doing here today and while in many many respects we can complain about COVID in this respect I want to thank Mr.COVID for helping us to make the point that this is the direction that we ought to go and the direction which we ought to have been going from a very long time ago.”
According to Minister Faber several persons have accused him of using this initiative for political mileage, but he says the initiative has nothing to do with politics.
Hon. Patrick Faber, Leader, United Democratic Party: “The devices that have been procured for you – and this is what I need to dispel -listen, in all of my thirteen February will make thirteen years of my leadership of the Ministry of Education the Minister of Education name no call eena no scandal. That is because I have managed the resources given under my watch in the best way that I know how to make sure that those resources are utilized for all in the education system and I can stand here this morning and I can list those. School transportation, additional classrooms, $300 subsidies, paying for CXCs, paying for UB and other tertiary level students in the form of grants and we’ve taken out the politics of things so they can’t even accuse this administration and this minister of corruption but because we’re doing what we’re doing this morning and it’s putting a damper into some political plans of people they’re trying to call it a scam. Well I don’t preside over scams and so we’re able to make sure that we deliver the maximum number and the highest quality of learning devices for our students this morning. And there’s no politics being played. Nobody asked the students and the principals and the teachers who are here can attest to that was one of the questions on the survey that you did “Does your mommy or your daddy vote for the UDP?” NO. “You have a device in your home that you can use for the kind of distance learning that the school is requiring or will be requiring you to use?” is what they asked you.”
Minister Faber mentioned that all 50 plus secondary schools will receive devices to distribute to the students. The Phablets also come with several textbooks that were subscribed to by the Ministry of Education. An additional phase should follow in 2 weeks. A total of over 15,000 students will benefit from this initiative by its completion which is expected by the end of November, 2020.