The University of the West Indies (UWI) came in for praise today as two computer systems, built by students, were presented to the Maria Holder Nursery School in St. Thomas.

Principal of the nursery school, Shelley Boyce, in commending the lecturer in charge of the project, Adrian Als, and the 11 students who assembled the parts, said: ???This shows that our university is working; it shows the education system is working; we don???t have to fetch anybody from overseas in the international domain to do this. We are up there with the best.???

Expressing gratitude for the ???wonderful initiative???, she added: ???Your style of teaching is commensurate with the style we use at the nursery level; we talk but children must participate and do. Children learn best by doing and therefore, Sir, you are to be highly commended for the creativity that you have brought to your programme at the University of the West Indies.???

Ms. Boyce also acknowledged there were some very computer literate students at her school, and said the computers would enhance the nursery???s syllabus, as they would be placed in the classrooms where children could freely manipulate and explore the computer programmes.

???They are very excited to have this value added to their programme. Your donation to the school is in keeping with what the Ministry of Education has mandated us to do, and that is to infuse the technology in the programmes of the nursery schools???We already have been given laptops from the Ministry and we work with the children but this is extremely splendid,??? the principal told Mr. Als.

Explaining that the systems were developed as part of an experiential learning project in the computer architecture course, Mr. Als, who lectures in the Department of Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics, said his students would have gained knowledge and skills that extend beyond the classroom environment, better preparing them for the world of work.

He also deemed the relationship forged with D.E. Computers Unlimited Inc. and PricewaterhouseCoopers as a success, noting that there was now increased visibility for all stakeholders, as each party continued to invest in the local community. ???Partnerships such as these echo volumes for what public-private collaborations can accomplish, especially in these difficult economic times,??? Mr. Als said.

Stating that the project with its community focus was ???perhaps the most satisfying success of them all???, he added: ???All of the stakeholders do recognise the importance of a good education. Therefore, by investing in our children, even at this age, we are in essence investing in our future with the hope that early exposure to technology will help to nurture a tech-savvy generation.

???Moreover, there is also the likelihood that some of these students will someday be at UWI. By extrapolation, we can envision the effect of raising the bar at this early age on the quality of the future graduates from UWI.???

The lecturer also revealed that his team was in the roll-out stage of another initiative which would result in pedagogically sound, multimedia rich, edutainment software being installed on the two computer systems. Pointing out that the software had been created by students, he said: ???The aim of this initiative is to engage and motivate the nursery school pupils to excel by capturing their imaginations while, of course, making learning fun.???

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