Students getting almost 3,000 laptops

John Gray High School students check out their new laptops. - Photo: Submitted

A public-private sector initiative is working to provide 2,850 laptops to public-school students throughout Cayman.

The Literacy Is For Everyone charity, which has been working with government, businesses and volunteers to help provide the computers, said in a press release that 1,600 laptops had been secured already and 1,250 were “in the pipeline”.

The non-profit described the Education for Everyone initiative as one of the largest collaborations of its kind in Cayman, involving the Ministry of Education, the Department of Education Services, corporate partners, and volunteers.

“With the coronavirus pandemic exposing technological deficits, both locally and globally, businessman, Taylor Foster, led the charge for LIFE, securing funding to support an educational shift to a new digital world,” the group said in a press release.

Foster said in the release, “It is my hope that with the completion of this LIFE project, we will help the next generation of Cayman’s youth by giving them access to the tools that they need to succeed in these challenging and uncertain times.”

The process of distributing the laptops is already under way, LIFE said, with the SALT Technology Group setting up the configuration, imaging, and updating of all the laptops. This will include essential protective software for students, with the offer of additional training and IT support, if required.

The laptops will be owned by the Ministry of Education, but managed by schools who retain them.

“Never before have we witnessed educational disruption on such a scale,” said Anthony Cowell, LIFE board member and partner at KPMG in the Cayman Islands, in the release. “At a time when the entire student population of our islands is affected by COVID-19, LIFE has launched a ‘call to action’ to bridge the digital divide and support schools in scaling up their distance learning practices.”

Minister of Education Juliana O’Connor-Connolly thanked LIFE and its private sector partners, stating in the release, “This project underscores our shared commitment in the development of the children of this nation. The Ministry of Education welcomes continued partnerships as we work to educate our future leaders.”

Juliet Austin, LIFE executive director, said, “The coming together of public and private entities in the provision of these state-of-the-art devices ensures uninterrupted access to online education and continues to foster a culture of lifelong learning that speaks to the heart of LIFE’s Mission. I have no doubt that the repercussions of this project will reap rewards long into the future, not only for students, but for our people, our economy and our country.”

Among the sponsors of the initiative are the Foster Group, KPMG, the R3 Cayman Foundation, Cayman National Bank, PwC, Rotary Club of Grand Cayman Sunrise, Digicel, Cayman Airways, Logic and Flow.

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