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Education minister supports e-book initiative

ronaldjonesatparliament2013Secondary school principals who are moving to replace bulky and expensive textbooks in their schools with e-readers have been given the backing of their minister.

Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ronald Jones, told Barbados TODAY last night that he applauded the initiative of the secondary school heads, even though he doubted the September 2014 target could be fully achieved.

“I recognise the excitement of the principal for this project,” he noted, “but I am also aware there is a lot of work to be done to achieve full implementation. It may be that in the end the introduction will have to be on a phased basis, perhaps with the fifth and six formers going first.”

The minister noted too that he was “not sure all the books now being used” are available in a digital format, suggesting that for some subjects the reading material may only be accessible in the tradition paper edition.

However, Barbados TODAY sources revealed that the principals, who conceived the idea for the replacement of their book rooms with Information and Communications Technology facilities that collectively would meet the needs of approximately 23,000 secondary school students, said a partner had already been enlisted to digitise any books not now available electronically, with the permission of the publishers.

“In the ministry we support any move in this direction, and I therefore will back the principals,” Jones said. “Once the principals temper their enthusiasm with recognition of the complexity of the reality they face, there is no reason why the project should not be successful.”

Currently the ministry spends thousands of dollars annually to keep schools supplied with books that are “rented” annually to students at $75 per child. Each student, particularly at the junior level, is issued each year with about two dozens textbooks.

At the senior level, particularly in cases where there are sixth forms, students receive fewer books, but each can cost the Government considerably more, in many instances upward of $100, one principal pointed out. (RRM)

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