Over 300 students at government primary schools are now finding online learning and schoolwork much easier, thanks to a large donation of HP Chromebooks.
The initiative was started by Tony Cleaver, CEO of Alphasoft Ltd., who used the company’s relationship with HP and US distributors to procure machines for a special price. He then approached government with the plan, which subsequently produced a duty-free waiver for the shipment.
“I heard through various sources that there was a definite need for these computers,” Cleaver said. “The disruption caused by the coronavirus has significantly affected teachers, parents and children.
“Students went from having access to all the tools they needed at school, to – in a very short period of time – trying to learn at home. Many of them simply didn’t have the resources they needed to help them succeed.”
Once Cleaver determined what the final landed cost of the Chromebooks would be, he began reaching out to friends, clients and other individuals and companies to ask for sponsorship.
“There was no profit on our end,” he explained. “We kept the costs down as much as we could, so the amount raised from donors would cover the largest number of machines possible.
“We did all the administrative work, facilitated the procurement, and arranged the importation and delivery of the computers, in order to make the process smooth and quick,” Cleaver said.
The Lions Club of Grand Cayman sponsored 50 of the laptops, which were distributed to all the government schools between Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
Lions Club of Grand Cayman President Cordella Chollette said the club was pleased to be part of such a worthy initiative.
“Where there is a need, there’s a Lion, and it is our duty to assist wherever we can to help those in need, especially our youth, who are the future,” Chollette said. “COVID-19 has brought drastic changes to the way children can access schooling. Ensuring our children have the ability to continue learning is one of the most important things we as a community can do.
“Not every family has the technology to access online resources. Children without a device are missing out,” she said.
Once the students received their new Chromebooks, they were able to install Microsoft Office and activate it using their school email accounts, eliminating the need to purchase the software.
“We are providing warranty support for the hardware,” Cleaver said, “and software support is available via a volunteer helpdesk setup by Digital Cayman.”
Remaining donors included Rotary Central, Davenport Development Ltd., Jim and Barbara Cleaver, Linburgh and Michelle Martin, Betty Baraud, Kensington Management Group Ltd., and Michael Myles.