Jamaica to spend J$826 million on textbooks, ebooks and apps

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Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Fayval Williams (JIS-file)

(JIS) The government will be spending $826 million on the acquisition of textbooks for the upcoming academic year, including electronic books (ebooks) and learning apps.

This was disclosed by minister of education, youth, and information, Fayval Williams, who noted that the ministry has provided the full complement of textbooks needed by schools for this term.

She said that approximately $626 million will be spent on material for the primary level and $200 million for secondary schools under the national textbook loan scheme and the primary textbook programme.

The minister, who was addressing a virtual press conference on Wednesday, September 30, noted that at the lower primary level (grades one to three), the usual workbooks are being provided for integrated studies and mathematics.

She noted, however, that for the first time, the ministry will provide workbooks for the upper primary level (grades five and six) for the new academic year.

“So, parents do not have to buy these workbooks this year. This initiative, we believe, will assist in alleviating the financial challenges being faced by parents during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic,” the education minister said.

In terms of the secondary level, minister Williams noted that a blended and or a phased approach is being used, where students will have access to hard copy workbooks and textbooks.

“Additionally, we will be piloting ebooks and other e-content for the various subject areas at a cost of approximately $200 million,” she said.

The minister informed that 38,000 ebooks are being procured for the new school year for the specified subject areas.

For grade nine, ebooks will be available on separate science; grades seven to 11, English language; and grades 10 and 11 will have access to principles of business and principles of accounts.

“It must be noted that most of the ebooks this year are flat books, meaning PDF (Portable Document Format) and thus are not interactive.

The research shows. however, that full interactivity is most impactful at the primary level rather than at the secondary level,” she said.

Minister Williams further noted that at the secondary level, only one approved title per subject is procured for each school.

“This means that students will receive access codes for either English For All or English Matters Book 1. The title of the books given to each school is based on the orders previously submitted by the schools,” she informed.