e-Learning upgrading, monitoring and evaluation of services, says chair

e-Learning upgrading, monitoring and evaluation of services, says chair

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobsever.com

Monday, January 07, 2019

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E-LEARNING Jamaica, the government agency promoting the integration of technology into the education system has appointed a new CEO as part of plans in improving the monitoring and evaluation of its services.

Keith Smith, who joined the agency on January 3, is a veteran of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, with over 29 years of senior executive experience in both the public and the private sectors.

A graduate of Kingston College, he holds a BSc degree in electrical and computer engineering from the UWI, St Augustine, Trinidad, and an MSc in telecommunication and information systems at the University of Essex, in Colchester, England.

Smith, held executive positions with Cable and Wireless Jamaica, Digicel, Air Jamaica, Adjoint Business Solutions Limited and the Jamaica Public Service Company, where he delivered significant transformational technology programmes.

His appointment comes as the board continues its efforts at improving the monitoring and evaluation of the agency’s operations, and was precluded by a full review of its organisational structure an the commissioning of an independent staff gap analysis.

A key finding of the analysis was the fact that e-Leaning had not submitted annual reports between 2013 and 2016. The board has since taken steps to hold management responsible for these breaches in its reporting responsibilities, and has since acknowledged that the organisation is now current with its reports.

Chairman of the agency’s board, Christopher Reckord, explained then that it took them “quite some time” to get to the root of the major issues that were plaguing the entity, but that a plan of action began to take flight from as early as January 2017, when it was discovered that they had not submitted annual reports for the period 2013-2016.

“Specific steps were taken to hold management responsible for these obvious breaches in the reporting responsibilities of the public body and, since that time, the organisation is now current with all its annual reports,” Reckord said.

In terms of recognised deficiencies, the board chairman said that it was a widely held view by the board that there were some deficiencies at the management level, which had been allowed to fester over a number of years and which had resulted in staff underperforming and at times becoming demotivated.

“In addition to this, we found that established external policies and processes were not always being adhered to and critical reporting was not being provided to the board, in a timely fashion,” Reckord added.

In terms of organisational strengthening and best practices, he noted that since its inception e-Learning Jamaica had executed major projects for the Ministry of Education, with the most notable and successful being the provision and deployment of computers and associated learning technology to over 200 institutions, including high schools and teachers’ colleges.

He said that subsequently, the entity was tasked with the implementation of the Tablets in School programme, between 2014/2016, and while the pilot experienced only moderate success, it had proven to be a learning experience for the agency.

However, he admitted there are a number of other breaches raised by the staff gap analysis, including the governance practices and recognising deficiencies and organisational strengthening and best practices which are still being addressed.

He said that additional reports are due, and are expected to provide deeper insight into the operations of the entity, with an eye to ensuring that it realises its full potential while, at the same time, adhering to the highest principles of governance and transparency.

e-Learning Jamaica was established as an agency under the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, and manages two major projects namely: the e-Learning High School Project and the Tablets in Schools.

These projects represent special interventions of the Government in partnership with the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders to improve the quality of education, through information and communication technologies. The e-Learning project commenced activities for the Tablets in Schools Pilot Project in April 2013.

 

 

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