Education Minister Ronald Jones is welcoming the use of more and more technology into schools.

This was evident today as he lauded the presentation of 20 computers by the Aron and Christina Truss Foundation to Harrison College on Crumpton Street, St. Michael.

Expressing gratitude, the Minister said the school, known for its very strong scientific bent and related scholarships, would continue on the cutting edge, as a result of the donation.

???We welcome that commitment to giving back to your school, your alma mater, to education in Barbados, but also to many areas of activity. Sometimes, we have to beg too much to get. But in this instance, you didn???t have to beg. This was voluntary giving and the commitment of Mr. Truss to his alma mater,??? he said.

While urging students to cherish the technology and use it for the intended purpose, Mr. Jones said enhancing our STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] education was necessary and in the coming months and the lead up to the 50th Anniversary of Independence, similar presentations to schools would follow, not only from philanthropic organisations.

The Minister also discussed the issue of mobile phones in schools, noting that such devices could be used positively in entertainment; communication, education and research. Stating that he was aware students were never without a phone, he added that a proper policy for the use of mobile technology was in the works and he had met with principals on the matter to gain inputs and some suggestions had pleased him.

???We cannot hide from technology, we cannot run away from technology; it is omnipresent; it is always with us??? I have seen the evolution of technology??? [but] you have to use it responsibly; that is what the point is really; not the technology itself, but how responsibly you can use this technology,??? Mr. Jones said.

Students and teachers were also told that from January 1 that VAT on cell phones would be increased. Minister Jones said: ???Twenty-two per cent – four point five per cent more than what is the current rate. Right now, you pay 17.5 per cent on the use of phones – vatable.

“But from January 1, there will be a 4.5 per cent increase on that 17.5 per cent, only for the use of mobile phones and then that money will be given to education, to the Ministry of Education for educational purposes, education down the road??? only $16 million.???

It was also disclosed that efforts were on to introduce coding within the primary schools and this would see a number of tablets, specially developed and designed for that purpose. Stating that this project could start over the next year or two, the Education Minister said it would add to the efforts of the Aron and Christina Truss Foundation that would also be bringing tablets to the schools.

Mr. Truss, in addressing students, said the principal would determine the appropriate use of the computers. ???The initial plan is that you will have more of the senior students who are doing computer science and physics work on them.

“But, I am pretty sure that some of the juniors will get an opportunity as well,??? he said, pointing out that there were 20 coding and programming computers sourced by a friend of the Foundation, Mr. Matt Crotty, who has investments in Barbados and spends a lot of time here.

The charity, Aron and Christina Trust Foundation, was started in 2009 with the aim of promoting and facilitating education at the primary and secondary levels in Barbados.

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