Access to the Internet and computers is a lifeline for students now more than ever. Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted all of our lives in unprecedented ways, and made existing inequalities widen. One of those disparities is the digital divide. The digital divide describes the gap between those who have Internet access and computers/tablets, and those who do not.
In St. James Parish, Jamaica, laptops and tablets were not within the budget of underserved communities. As a result, only 10% of students in the Adelphi community have access to devices to connect online and participate in school work. Students were participating in school work on borrowed family cell phones. During a pandemic, digital resources provide students with more than just the ability to attend school. Access to digital devices connects us to other human beings, and has become a necessary resource to maintain relationships during a time when we are all forced to be apart.
It has become even more pertinent to keep children in school connected and supported. The Victoria House Foundation and Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities, in a joint effort, on Friday October 16, 2021 donated some 131 tablets and 26 laptop computers to students across Adelphi community in St. James parish. As of today, over 80% of students in Adelphi community have been equipped with laptop or tablets computer, and 98% of the students have returned for the 2021-2022 school year.
.Mayor of Montego Bay and Chairman of the St James Municipal Corporation, Councillor Leeroy Williams, thanked both organization for the donation calling it “timely” and a “kind gesture that highlights the philanthropic track record of its dedication to the citizenry of the parish.
“I am positive that this donation will bolster learning by empowering the recipients to better interact within the virtual learning space,” said Mayor Williams. At the same time, he is urging the students to “show utmost gratitude by caring for the devices and excel in all educational endeavours.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Corporation's Civic and Community Affairs Committee, Councillor Dwight Crawford, who was in attendance at the presentation ceremony, said that “through this uplifting initiative, world leaders are being created.”
He said that he “fully endorses” the joint mission by the Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee and Victoria House Foundation to advance education through technology in public schools within Montego Bay and its environs.
“Words can't explain how happy I feel, I am overwhelmed. I am so thankful and I am sure this will help me to do even better inschool,” said a smiling Tricialee Chin of Sadbury All Age school.
The benefitting schools from this year's donations are: Adelphi Primary, Adelphi Garden Basic, Goodwill Primary, Sudbury All age, Barrett Town All age, Dumfries Primary, Buckingham Primary, Muschett High, Anchovy High, Watson Town Basic, Bethtephil Basic,The University of the West Indies, Cornwall College, Farm Primary and Junior High, Providence Heights Infant.
Chair of the Atlanta Chapter of the Sister Cities Committee, Dr Yvonne Smith, and Chair of the Montego Bay Chapter of the Cities Committee, Fred Smith, as well as the Systems Engineer and CEO of Victoria House Foundation, McFarlane Okonta, were in attendance at the presentation ceremony. Also on hand to distribute the devices was Member of Parliament for Eastern St James and Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett.
Many thanks to our donors and partners! Without your support, this would not have been possible. Special thanks to Atlanta Montego Bay Sister Cities Committee for their unwavering commitment and partnership with VHF to help Advance Education through Technology in Developing countries and Inner Cities of the United States.