MP Leonard wants a laptop for every child

POSTED: 07/12/13 1:01 PM

St. Maarten -After a recent visit to Parlatino in Colombia, MP Johan “Janchi” Leonard of the United People’s Party, stated that the use of technology will have to play a major role in education as” we continue to shape the future of Country St. Maarten with each child having a laptop.”

Leonard said “he is convinced that using technology to educate our children will be more stimulating for the young minds and will significantly reduce the rate of drop outs while at the same time increasing the educational standard on the island overall.”

During his visit to Colombia, Leonard met with Parliamentarians from Latin America and attended several brainstorming sessions to discuss the different challenges and best practices in country development.

Parlatino is a regional organization comprised of Latin American and Caribbean countries which holds sessions for one week each year in June. The theme for this year’s event was technology and innovation in education. It was held under the patronage of Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos, and the Colombian Ministry of Education.

On his return Leonard said that “it is evident that our children have a greater grasp of technology than most adults today and they are drawn to it in a major way. Using this love for technology would be an obvious next step in terms of innovation in education.” According to Leonard, the strength of St. Maarten in the future will depend heavily on the education of its population. “We must take the necessary steps today to secure a strong Country St. Maarten for tomorrow.”

Leonard said he will be meeting with the new minister of education to discuss this innovation in education using technology, and that he will also be seeking  the support of his coalition partners in government to see how  this can become a reality for the children of St. Maarten over the next few years.

“Education is one of the most important tools for the development of a Country. It is important that the use of technology is at the same time managed so that it is used constructively and achieves the results we can reap benefits from. When the entire globe is going green and the cost of school books is at an all time high, the proper use of technology could mean the elimination of printed material, and a significant reduction in the overall cost of education over the long term. This will also mean a major financial relief for parents as they would not need to purchase school books. This is something that is achievable but must be a shared responsibility between government and business/private sector,” the MP said.

“Now more than ever, St. Maarten as a new Country must begin to take the necessary steps to deal with shortage of teachers, and oversized classrooms and using computers will go a long way to ensuring that the information imparted by our teachers reaches each student,” Leonard added.

“When I speak of using technology to teach our children, I am thinking in the context in which every child on St. Maarten attending public school has a laptop which our teachers use to deliver the courses and monitor their results,” said the UP MP.  “I believe that using this type of system will allow teachers to quickly identify the struggling children and we can prevent that struggling boy or girl from having to drop out of school because they were not getting the material and no one noticed or they were barely passing.”

Leonard feels this will address the issue of shortage of teachers as it will allow St. Maarten’s teachers to reach more children. Leonard said he is “well aware of the challenges that implementing such a system will face. First, the island must upgrade its technology to become much more stable and reliable with increased capacity to accommodate such a large scale project. This should be a shared responsibility between our two telecommunications companies who should see the financial benefit and take the leading role in presenting such a proposal to government. There is also a financial burden that government will have, but through proper planning and implementation in stages, perhaps starting with primary schools we should be able to achieve this,” Leonard pointed out. “We have to take the educational future of our children serious.”

MP Leonard concluded “that one of the considerations for the use of technology is also the ability to get the more seasoned educators, who have retired, to play a role in shaping the teachers of today, thereby transferring the wealth of experience and knowledge to the younger teachers rather than it being lost with retirees.”

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