Bahamas Ministry of Education and Microsoft sign agreement to improve technology
Nassau, The Bahamas – The Bahamas Government has teamed up with Microsoft in a partnership agreement planned to further advance trends in technology that will result in changes in the way students and teachers work, learn and live.
Jerome Fitzgerald, Minister of Education, Science and Technology referred to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Education Transformation Agreement as a “significant milestone” in the development of Education in that will allow the Ministry to forge ahead with its goal of ensuring that teachers and students in The Bahamas are immersed in technology enriched learning environments.
The agreement was signed on May 29 by Nicole Campbell, Permanent Secretary, and George Corbin, Microsoft Territory Manager at the Ministry of Education.
Minister Fitzgerald said the agreement will ensure that “teachers are equipped to effectively integrate technology into teaching and learning, thus fostering innovation and ingenuity in our students.”
He listed several benefits of the partnership including:
– Assisting the Ministry to increase digital inclusion of all students and schools in The Bahamas
– Providing technical assistance to refine the Ministry’s e-Strategy that guides ICT initiatives
– Creating a Microsoft 365 platform that is free to education and extends teaching and learning within and beyond the classroom
– Providing an email platform for all teachers and students in the public education system to have access to an education email address that they could have for their lifetime
– The Microsoft Innovative Educator Programme will ensure that educators have 21st Century ICT (Information Communication Technologies) skills
– Allowing 1,500 teachers and 22,000 students to have the ability to download Microsoft Suite programmes on up to five devices.
The Government takes the mandate to create an educational system that is “technologically sound” and “competitive” very seriously, said the Minister. “Our commitment is demonstrated by the nearly $5 Million in ICT initiative undertaken by my Ministry since 2012. It is by far the largest and most successful technology initiative undertaken to date by the Government of The Bahamas under the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) IDB INSPIRE Project Management Unit,” he stated.
Since 2012 the Government has invested in educational technologies in 76 primary and secondary public schools and in upgrading all school computer labs in the 14 districts throughout The Bahamas. National libraries have been upgraded with computers and educational technologies and support has also been given to the Learning Resources Section, the Curriculum Section, resource centres in the Family Islands and programmes including PACE and the Simpson Penn School Boys.
The education technologies included desktop computers, laptops, interactive white boards, multimedia projectors, multimedia printers, document cameras, equipment to facilitate distance education and other technologies.
Additionally, the Government has invested in assistive technology to facilitate learning for students with special needs and continue to upgrade the ICT infrastructure in schools.
“We have implemented a very aggressive and diverse professional development framework to ensure that teachers are able to teach effectively in an increasingly ICT-enriched environment. To date, nearly 2,000 teachers have been trained in a multiplicity of ICT skills,” he said.
The investment of nearly $5 million on ICT was guided by the ICT in Education Strategy (e-Strategy) which was crafted after wide sector consultation and has the embedded vision, “To make accessible to the students of The Bahamas the technology required to make them globally competitive”.
He pointed out that the ultimate aim is to create an e-Culture in education that strengthens the system, better equip youth for the world of work and result in an improved Bahamas.
He announced plans for the Ministry to set up a Science, Technology and Innovation National Policy Committee to ensure that The Bahamas take full advantage of what the world has to offer in these areas.
Minister Fitzgerald congratulated Sharell Armaly-Edwards, an Art and Design Teacher and Subject Coordinator at A.F. Adderley Junior High School, who submitted a winning entry in the 10th Annual Microsoft in Education Global Forum and won an all expense paid trip to Barcelona, Spain in March of this year.
The forum recognises the world’s most innovative school leaders and educators who effectively use ICT in the classroom to transform education for the 21st Century. Mrs. Armaly-Edwards submitted a lesson showing her students’ versatility with using the internet and the interactive white board for research, and to design their course work for the Bahamas Junior Certificate (BJC) Exams.
The Bahamas joins Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Haiti in this agreement with Microsoft.