Allen, govt. enter agreement to outfit schools with tablets

TECH AGREEMENT – American Businessman and Philanthropist Carl Allen (right centre) and the Bahamian Government entered into an agreement to outfit public schools with tablets on Thursday, May 9 at the Office of the Prime Minister, Grand Bahama. Representing the government was Sen. J. Kwasi Thompson (centre left), Minister for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister. Also pictured are Ministry of Education officials and representatives from receiving schools. (PHOTO: JENNEVA RUSSELL)

American Businessman and Philanthropist Carl Allen and the Bahamian Government entered into an agreement to provide tablets for public schools on Thursday, May 9 at the Office of the Prime Minister, Grand Bahama.

Minister of State for Grand Bahama in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator J. Kwasi Thompson noted that this was a good day for Grand Bahama.

He added that Allen and his wife, Gigi, are no strangers to The Bahamas. “He (Allen) has embarked upon a very ambitious and meaningful transformation of Walker’s Cay.”

Sen. Thompson thanked the Allens for their contribution and expressed that hundreds of young people will benefit from the use of technology they otherwise may not have had access.

He noted that if The Bahamas is going to move forward and be able to compete on an international level, students need the training required to do so via technology.

“What Mr. Allen is doing today is very important,” Sen. Thompson said.

He added that Allen’s donation is contributing to the development of the government’s vision to digitize the education system.

Noting that the government is also embarking on digitizing public services, so that citizens can access government services online for more efficient use, Sen. Thompson said that residents should see some results in this endeavor in the next six months, but admittedly the process will take years to complete.

“It is about making the lives of citizens better,” he said.

Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Education Lorraine Armbrister, attended the press conference on the ministry’s behalf and noted that since Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd’s appointment, a transformation of the Bahamian educational system has been underway.

“It’s important to us that we are responsive to the needs of the students,” she said.

She furthered that by digitizing the schools, providing tablets and other forms of technology to build a 21st century educational structure, the ministry will properly prepare students for a productive future.

The government is investing $17 million in the system’s transformation.

Armbrister noted that the ministry realizes that they cannot revolutionize the educational system alone and therefore, they are grateful for individuals like Allen, who are willing to invest in this mission.

“We appreciate you very much,” she said.

She added that the schools will take care of the tablets he donated and use them effectively.

Director of Education Marcellus Taylor, echoed her sentiments and explained that incorporating technology in the schools will facilitate the learning process.

“We also want the students to know how to think critically and understand the world that they are a part of,” he said.

He added that the ministry also wants students to have access to things they normally would not, such as connecting to persons all around the world.

Taylor stated that the ministry also wants teachers to know how to properly utilize technology to teach the students.

He also thanked the Allens, “It’s always a good thing when people come into our space and help to make it better.”

Taylor noted that their generosity can be used as an example to other foreigners to show that they are welcome to contribute to the country’s enhancements.

Representatives from the local schools who have benefitted from the donation also attended the press conference.

Principal of West End Primary Navidia Mills, called the donation from Mr. Allen a “game changer.”

Noting that the tablets they received were used for the preschoolers, Mills said that the young students are now able to turn on the tablets, identify programmes and shut the tablets off.

She shared that the teachers are very excited about utilizing the tablets in their lessons.

“The tablets have been used effectively at West End Primary School,” she said.

Michelle Outten, Maurice Moore Primary Computer Science Teacher stated that students have become engaged in their lessons with the tablets. “This is definitely a step in promoting technology.”

Allen expressed appreciation for being welcomed to The Bahamas and reflected that conversations about making Grand Bahama a technology hub with Senator Thompson, the previous year, inspired his decision to donate the tablets.

“We want to continue this programme. I’ve got a soft place for Grand Bahama… the whole Bahamas,” he said.

Allen furthered that he knew if the Bahamian Government would match their efforts, they could have a major impact. “We just love the fact that we can help out.”

Allen also shared that he will officially become a resident of The Bahamas. He and his family want to become a part of the nation’s future, beginning with the tablets and his transformation of Walker’s Cay.

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