The Eco-Industrial Development Company of Tobago (E-IDCOT) Ltd has donated 30 devices to the Division of Education, Innovation and Energy’s online programme, targeting schools in Tobago East.
In a phone interview with Newsday on Tuesday, School Supervisor III in the Division of Education Sherry Ann Rollocks-Hackett said the company targeted schools in the area as they believed the “usually disadvantaged” students are in that part of the island. Rollocks-Hackett received the devices on Monday on behalf of Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy Kelvin Charles,
The company donated 14 laptops and 16 tablets. Three secondary schools received five of the devices and ten primary schools received 25.
The primary schools which received devices were: L’Anse Fourmi Methodist, Parlatuvier Anglican, Des Vignes Road Government, Charlotteville Methodist, Speyside Anglican, Delaford Anglican, Delaford Roman Catholic, Ebenezer Methodist, Roxborough Anglican and Hope Anglican.
The chosen secondary schools were Speyside High School, Roxborough Secondary and Goodwood Secondary.
E-IDCOT chairman Kamau Akili said, “The company could not ignore the need to support schools and students in general, but we identified a special need within rural areas given the challenges with the online schooling programme.”
Rollocks-Hackett said the schools were chosen by the company and the Division of Education facilitated the process.
She said once principals receive donated devices on behalf of the students, they are guided by a laptop distribution policy outlined by the division.
“(The policy) speaks to, first of all, taking care of the needs of the students who are receiving packages at this point in time,” Rollocks-Hackett said.
She said principals are required to distribute donated devices to students who are still doing school work from printed packages prepared by teachers. The students on a list of those who would have indicated from the start of the term that they had no devices.
“Our policy goes on to say after we have exhausted that list, then we move on to students who are online with cellphones.”
She said the aim of the division is to target students in need and not those who “just want to have a laptop.”
“At this point in time, it is about functionality for the continued learning of the child. Those children who are receiving packages, they are our priority at this time.”
Rollocks-Hackett said principals are also responsible for regularly collecting data on students to determine who needs devices.
She said principals check for those who already have devices, who are using cellphones, those who don’t have access at all and those who don’t have connectivity and are in need of packaged material.
“Principals were instructed to go back and review the information because since we started, it has been reported to us that the number (of students in need) was reduced somewhat because some have since secured laptops from family members (or elsewhere).”
She also pointed out that in some instances, households with multiple school-aged children are sharing devices. “On some days, some children are on(line) and other days they are not. Our principals have also collected that data.”
She said these students are also prioritised when distributing donated devices.