Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Phillip Paulwell, says the computer tablets to be issued to students will have security features to prevent criminals from stealing them. Under the Schools Tablet Computer Programme, some 30,000 devices will be distributed to students and teachers from 30 institutions across the island, through phase II of the E-Learning Programme. Speaking at a post-budget press briefing at Jamaica House, on Thursday, April 25, Mr. Paulwell said he is aware of the security concerns and very serious considerations have been given to ensure the security of the computers. “[We know] the attractiveness of these devices for people who would want to acquire them without paying for them…but we believe that we can overcome the dangers that could befall the programme,” he assured. He noted that, as such, each tablet computer has been fitted with a number of security features, which ensures that the device can be tracked if stolen. “Every one of these devices will have a feature that can track them wherever they are, anywhere in the world. So, if for example, a child is missing from school, we can tell their parents where the child has been,” he said. The Minister, therefore, had a message for criminals. “For those people who think that they will be able to steal them, you will probably be able to steal one, but you won’t be able to use it, and we will find you long before you know it,” he warned. Mr. Paulwell said efforts have been made to block access to harmful content, such as pornographic websites. In the meantime, the Minister announced that more schools will be added to the programme. “When we checked the number of students and teachers [in the 30 schools selected] we are now at 25,000, so we are about 5,000 less than the 30,000 that we want,” he explained. Mr. Paulwell said, in light of this, the Ministry of Education will be asked to recommend a few more schools for the project. So far, some five early childhood institutions, 10 primary schools, five junior high schools and 10 high schools across the country have been selected. He said the schools selected to participate in the pilot are among those that have been assessed and found to be under-performing academically by the Education Ministry. Under the programme, each school will be made into a wireless hotspot, offering free access to broadband Internet for students and the wider community.By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter
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