Bombay comes alive!
Free public Wi-Fi to improve online learning in community
Students in Bombay district and adjoining areas who experienced poor network coverage and an inaccessibility to Internet services should now be able to improve attendance to online classes, following the launch of the installation of the free community hotspot, made possible through the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Cable and Wireless.
Speaking at the launch of the initiative of Monday, principal of Bellefield High, Paul Grant, said of the 1,400 students enrolled at the institution in 2020, fewer than 50 per cent logged on to online classes.
He added that following a research into the geographical location of the students who were missing, it was revealed that they had no access to the Internet.
“Many of the students of the parents in this area failed to register their children for school. But this is a new day and come January morning, we expect the students who are not logging on, who are in the Bombay, Allison, area, that we need to see you on the Google Platform,” said Grant.
STILL A CAUSE FOR CONCERN
But with the challenges of online learning still a cause for concern and as calls for the resumption of full-time face-to-face classes continue, Grant underscored the importance of having a vaccinated student population.
“We have approximately less than 17 per cent of students vaccinated. The MOE (Ministry of Health) said for us to reopen school January 3 for grades seven to 10, we must get 65 per cent of students partially vaccinated or fully vaccinated,” said the principal.
Grant revealed that the institution, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, will be conducting its own vaccination blitz this Thursday, so students, particularly those who have been struggling to connect online, can be served in the physical classroom.
Community Events Coordinator and teacher at the institution, Ian Hibberts, underscored the importance of having technology and innovation be a driving force in national development.
“I know what it is like when a child comes online and the data runs out, when an assignment is to come in and no connectivity to search for information. Today we are in celebratory mood,” he said.
This $7.5-million investment, according CEO of USF, Daniel Dawes, is the first of three additional Wi-Fi spots scheduled to be installed in the constituency, with the communities of Broadleaf and Elgin next in line.
With the organisation supporting the Ministry of Education’s e-learning programme by allocating $700 million to secure 40,000 tablets that were distributed to students and $805 million to get tablets for teachers across the island in the past, Dawes said under the directive of the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology, Daryl Vaz, each constituency is to be outfitted with three Wi-Fi spots.
“We are glad to know that we are on the map, we are first in this area and that we will always be grateful to be put on the map of Manchester,” expressed community representative, Paulette McKenson-Smikle.
According to Government Accounts Manager at Cable and Wireless, Nigel Burke, approximately 30 hotspots have been installed across the island in partnership with the USF, serving hundreds of communities and thousand of individuals.
“This development could not have come at more opportune time when much of our opportunities have been shifted to online platforms. I know how difficult it has been for many of us to access Wi-Fi for school, Wi-Fi and business and recreation, so I know that this project will significantly ease the burden of many,” said Manchester Central Member of Parliament Rhoda Crawford.