Largest island in the Caribbean

INTRODUCTION

Country Profile

Jamaica is the third largest Island in the Caribbean, and the largest of the English speaking islands in the Caribbean. It is situated 90 miles from south of Cuba and 600 miles South of Florida USA (nationsonline.org). A United Nations 2008 report states the capital as Kingston the land area is 10, 991 sq km (4,243 sq miles) the major language is English and the population is 2.7 Million.

The United Nations report (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) which was published in November 2006 states that Jamaica's development agenda includes a relevant role for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as enablers for improvement of public service, trade activities, competitiveness and the quality of life of its citizens.

Access and Infrastructure

The report also referenced the fact that the telecommunications market is fully liberalized, following a 3-phase process that started in 2000. The report stated that in 2006, mobile penetration is estimated at 101% and a second Fibre-Optic international carrier became operational. This has reduced Internet prices, broadband included, and pushed penetration to 40% of the population. Broadband access remains limited to less than 4 % of the population.

Policy Instruments

The report continues by saying that Jamaica's National IT plan is regularly updated and coherent with its Public Sector Reform Program. The country still lacks digital signature, electronic transactions and e-commerce legislation. Work is underway for updating the National IT Plan, the Telecommunications Act and establishing a single regulating authority for telecommunications (fixed and wireless), media and ICT activities (UN 2006).

Capacities and Knowledge

Since late 2006, resources from the Universal Access Fund are available for delivering broadband access at all high schools by 2009 and enhancing ICT programs in education, which already include initial, primary and secondary levels and a program for people with disabilities. ICT and Information Society relevant skills among public and private sector, national and international personnel are built at the government's Management Institute for National Development (MIND) the University of the West Indies (UWI) and other higher and technical education institutions (UN 2006).

With an increasingly liberalized and competitive telecommunications and ICT sector, significant levels of foreign investment and the country's push for positioning itself as an ICT offshore services and international trade transshipment leader in the region, building Human capacity to support these goals remains one of the major challenges faced by Jamaica for the development of an inclusive and sustainable Knowledge Society. On-going efforts from the public, private and civil society sector actively address this need, but there is little coordination and synergy among them (UN 2006).

Content and Public Services

Although it has a Central Information Technology Office (CITO) and a National IT Plan, coordination and interconnection of public ICT initiatives remain a challenge. A significant number of e-government initiatives are in place, including tax payment and a multi-agency trade facilitation system. Virtual communities and networks are not common and while on-line content is somehow abundant, it rarely represents community and cultural manifestations (UN 2006).

The Formal Education System

The Ministry of Education is responsible for the public education system in Jamaica. The New Horizons for Primary Schools program with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was implemented during 1998-2005 period. Following this program, the pilot for the e-learning Jamaica project was launched on the last quarter of 2006 with funding from the Universal Access Fund. A parallel project to provide broadband Internet access to all schools by 2009 was launched at the same time also financed by the Universal Access fund. Different from other countries, where introduction of ICT in the public education system is limited to secondary education levels. Jamaica has pioneered ICT initiatives both in initial Primary Education levels (UN 2006).

The United Nations report "Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean" Jamaica's Information Society Country Profile highlighted access and infrastructure, policy instruments, capacities and knowledge, content and public services and the formal education system as integral to solving the problem of Jamaica's digital divide. It noted that while the Information technology infrastructure was in place and the market was fully liberalized, broadband access was limited to 4 percent of the population. Although the country's IT policy was regularly updated there was lack of coordination and interconnection in implementing these national policies.

In the e-readiness category, a United Nations report Lists Jamaica as being 85 in the world and 7th in the Caribbean in 2007, falling from 56 position in the world in 2005 (UN 2007).

The Education Environment

The 32nd edition of the Education Statistics, published in March 2008 by the Ministry of Education Jamaica, describes Jamaica's formal education system as having four levels established by the Education act of 1965. These levels are: early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary. It further states that government is the main provider of education with a relatively small degree of private sector participation at the primary and secondary levels.

It continues by stating that Early Childhood education is provided for children in the age group 4 to 5 years in Infant schools, infant departments of Primary, All Age and Primary & Junior High schools, as well as children in the age group 3 to 5 years in Nursery, Kindergarten and Basic schools. Although Basic schools are community operated, those recognized by government receive subsidies to supplement teachers' salaries, procure instructional materials and nutritional support. It should also be noted that these schools in most cases act as feeder schools to the primary level schools in their immediate environment.

It is also documented in the publication that Primary education is offered to pupils 6 to 11 years old, in grades 1 to 6 of primary, All Age, Primary and Junior High and Preparatory schools. It is at this level that the foundation is set for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and values for total development and continuation of the child's education.

With this view in mind I totally agree with the Ministry of Education in stating categorically that the foundation for the acquisition of knowledge, skills and values for total development and continuation of the child's education is set at ages 6 to 11 years old and in particular at the primary level of the education system.

The Ministry of Education having recognized this should as a policy emphasize Information technology training at this level similar to that placed on numeracy and literacy.

On page 107 of the Education Statistics 2007 - 2008 it is noted that the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) is a terminal examination for grade 11 students after five years in high schools. At the General proficiency level, 39,347 (14,222 males and 25,125 females) students sat English Language with 45.1 percent obtaining Grades 1, 2 and 3. However, of the 36,799 students who sat mathematics, only 29.6 percent obtained grades 1 and 2 and 3. At the Basic proficiency level, only 4.2 percent of the 477 students were successful in obtaining Grades 1 and 2 in English Language while for Mathematics, only 3.3 percent of the 965 students obtained Grade 1 and 2.

Table 4-5 (b) in the Education Statistics publication, while confirming the above literature also gave the breakdown for the Information Technology examination. Using Literature from above and substituting the Information Technology figures we find that at the General Proficiency Level, 10,755 (4,335 males and 6,420 females) sat Information Technology with 75.3 percent obtaining grades 1, 2 and 3.

Upon closer scrutiny or examination of the data we see that a much smaller cohort sat the Information Technology examinations than those who sat English Language and Mathematics.

In order to prepare the country for the Information Technology revolution and social inclusion of all our citizens we need to make Information Technology as compulsory as English and Mathematics and train teachers to teach students accordingly.

In table 2-13 (see appendix 14) of the 7237 teachers in Primary Schools by Post, Sex and Parish only 624 were Pre-Trained. In Table 2-15 (Appendix 15) Teachers in All Age Schools Grades 1-6 By Post, Sex and Parish of the 2070 only 166 were pre trained and in table 2-19 (Appendix 16) Teachers in Primary and Junior High Schools by Post sex and Parish of the 1434 only 97 were untrained.

The tables show that a vast majority of the teachers are trained. The teachers are normally trained by the various teachers colleges and teaching institutions across Jamaica. These institutions that offer Primary Education are: Bethlehem teachers college, Church Teachers college, Mico Teachers college, College of Agriculture Science and Education, St. Joseph's Teachers College, Sam Sharpe Teachers College, Shortwood Teachers College and Moneague Teachers College.

The primary curriculum for the Mico teachers college which is the leading teacher training institution in Jamaica points to a technology in education component. This component is done in two phases the theory and the practical. The theory seeks to explore how to use technology in the class room for effective delivery while the practical only covers the teaching of the major components of the Microsoft Office Suite, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The course does not equip teachers to use the internet and the web for access to the global network and as a research tool. The technology in Education component is only covered in the final semester of the three year program and covers less hours than the courses mathematics, language and even religious education which is offered every year of the three year course. The Technology in education course accounts for 45 hours of teaching while Social Studies accounts for 90 hours, Mathematics accounts for 135 hours, Religious education 135, Language 240 and Science 270 hours.

Solving one of the problems of the digital divide will involve more participation from the teacher training institutions in setting a curriculum that would adequately prepare teachers to teach Information Technology in schools in particular at the Primary level. Training should exceed the usual Microsoft Office suites and include the use of the Internet and the Web. There should be coordinated efforts amongst Ministry of Education officials and the teachers colleges to develop a policy and curriculum that will guide the colleges for the initial and continuous training of teachers with the necessary knowledge and technical expertise to teach students. There should be the development of the Information Technology curriculum and continuous review and upgrading thereof to keep pace with the advancement of Information Technology.

Objectives of Investigations

The research will allow key stakeholders, the minister of education, the permanent secretary and regional directors to be aware of the status of the "Digital Divide" at the primary level of the Jamaican education system. The public institutions will be evaluated and measured and their level of readiness or status will be compared and made known. They will be evaluated on the availability of physical resources, budget, curriculum and the availability of Trained Information Technology Teachers. Physical resources can be described as: computer labs, computers, Internet access, while the budget covers the money allocated by government for school's operation.

  • The research will seek to prove that a large technology gap exists at public school and that if funding is increased administrators will be inclined to invest in technology for teaching and learning purposes for its teachers and students.
  • To measure the extent of the gap by regressing the independent variables on the dependent variables computers, internet access and budget.
  • To measure the current teachers information technology qualification.

This paper has been divided into five chapters, they are: Introduction, Literature Review, Research Methodology, Statistical analysis, Results and Discussions and Conclusion and Future Work.

The introduction, chapter one, sets the foundation for the study and gives a brief overview of the country its information technology infrastructure, policies, capacities, knowledge and the formal education system and its environment. It also gives the objectives of the research and contribution and importance of the study. Chapter two reviews the literature this includes past research by individuals and organizations. Chapter three discusses the Research Methodology how data was collected and the framework for pursuing the study. Chapter four outlines the statistical analysis and a discussion, and chapter five concludes the report with the findings and discussions for future work.

Contribution and Importance of the study

The study will seek to assess and describe the status of the digital divide at the primary level of Jamaica's education system. In addition to assessing and describing the study will suggest solutions to bridging the digital divide at the primary level. The primary level of education is the foundation for future learning. The public schools at the primary level are responsible for educating most Jamaicans, approximately ninety percent of the nation's children pass through the primary public school system. The public schools are mandated by government to educating the students making them numerate and literate.

It is common knowledge that computer training has a positive impact on the attitudes of students. In order for the country to bridge the divide it needs to start at the atomic level, at the small stage where the children are eager to learn about technology.

The study will evaluate and alert Ministry of Education Officials to the status of the digital divide at the primary level. These Ministry of Education Officials include the Honourable Minister of Education, the Permanent Secretary and Regional Directors. The study will recommend that government create or enforce policies and programs to equip public schools with trained information technology teachers and resources to effectively train and educate the primary school children. These skills sets are trained teachers with Information Technology training and skills and resources include computer labs, appropriate hardware, software, network connectivity and internet access.

LITERATURE REVIEW

This chapter gives an overview of Jamaica's digital evolution in the public sector.

It also details the origin of the term digital divide, the definitions, Misconceptions, principles, implementations, maximizing chances for digital divide success, examples of successful digital divide implementation, information technology in digital Divide, Digital Divide in Jamaica's primary school system. The last paragraph summarizes the major issues discussed in the chapter.

Overview

Jamaica, despite various challenges, has been making modest gains in the area of education and technology. Over the past decade, owners, executives and managers have invested huge sums of money into technology in order to make their companies more efficient and competitive. They have also invested heavily in the training of staff. The private sector has always been the leader in providing quality service and efficiency to their customers. Government ministries and departments were once considered antiquated, with manual processes and paper filled offices. They are now rivaling the private sector with technology, efficiency and high quality customer service. It is now possible to make queries, file applications, pay taxes and access information on government departments and policies online. The private and public sector seem to be on the same technological platform.

Jamaica's internet penetration has increased steadily from 2.4 percent in 2000 to 45.5 percent in 2007 (Internetworldstats 2001-2009). Despite this gain in technology and efficiency, the government of Jamaica needs to do more in ensuring that their goals are more than having access to the internet. The government must do more in implementing policies and programs that will equip the citizens in fully becoming digital citizens.

Definition of Digital Divide

Korupp and Szydlik 2005 define the digital divide "as a division between individuals and households at different socio-economic levels, regarding their chances to access or use information and communication technology." They further explain the divide by breaking it down into a theoretical distinction of a first and second level. The first-level digital divide they state, deals with problems of access to computers and the Internet, while the second-level focuses on the user profiles of new technologies. The lack of skill set is also addressed by Cullen. She states "the "digital divide" has been applied to the gap that exists in most countries between those with ready access to the tools of information and communication technologies and those without such access skills. This may be because of socio-economic or geographical factors, educational, attitudinal, and generational factors, or because of physical disabilities" (Cullen 2003).

Origin of the Term Digital Divide

Ironically, the first public mention of the term digital divide was not made in the technology arena as some people would assume. The term was first used by president bill Clinton in 1995. He made mention of bridging the digital divide in American schools ".......... if you have the right computers and the right education equipment, software, the right educational software and properly trained teachers...... This means for the first time ever in history, children in the most rural schools, children in the poorest inner-city school districts, children in standard, middle-class communities, children in the wealthiest schools, public or private, up and down the line, will have access in real time to the same unlimited store of information. It will revolutionize and democratize education in a way that nothing ever has in the history of this country" (Clinton 1995).

Proper Planning and Social Inclusion

It should not be mistakenly understood that increased funding and allocation of resources will of itself solve the divide, as it may simply lead to wastage of funds. In order for a project like this to be successful, proper planning, teacher training and continuous development programmes must be put in place. The success of this will be beneficial to the country in the long run as there will be more teenagers, and adults who will be technologically literate, with the technology foundation to compete globally. The reciprocal effects will be having more successful community based Information Technology projects as there may be more volunteers available to give of their time and effort. This would lead to more social inclusion and a feeling of belonging and purpose. Social inclusion "is the extent that individuals, families, and communities are able to fully participate in society and control their own destinies, taking into account a variety of factors related to economic resources, employment, health, education, housing, recreation, culture and civic engagement" (Warcschauer, 2007). Warschauer goes on to say that social inclusion is not only about economics. He quoted Stewart as saying it is also about "participation in the determination of both individual and collective life chance". Social inclusion as argued by Castells reflects the imperatives of the current information era, in which issues of identity, language, social participation, community, and civil society have taken central stage. "There are many ways that the poor can have a fuller participation and inclusion, even if they lack an equal share of resources" (Warcschauer, 2007).

Mark Warschauer in his paper "Reconceptualizing the Digital Divide" gave three case studies in which the digital divide failed. He listed the "Hole-in-the-wall" experiment in India, where an outdoor five-station computer kiosk was set up in the poorest slums of New Delhi. No teachers were provided and the children that used the kiosks taught themselves basic computer operations. However, there was lack of organization of the project, the internet seldom worked and there was no constant monitoring of the site. One parent saw it as a distraction as she states that her son, who had performed well in school, was now performing below standard, since he now spends all his free time playing computer games on the kiosks ( Warschauer, 2007).

The above paragraph shows that although the program was well intentioned, it failed and it proved more of a distraction to learning. Warschauer contends that in order for digital divide projects to be successful they must offer more than computers and internet access. He states "... access to ICT is embedded in a complex array of factors encompassing physical, digital, human, and social resources and relationships. Content and language, literacy and education, and community and institutional structures must all be taken into account if meaningful access to new technologies is to be provided" (Warschauer, 2007).

Warschauer describes social inclusion as "...the extent that individuals, families, and communities are able to fully participate in society and control their own destinies...." (Warschauer, 2007). Bridging the digital divide in this context, making technology accessible to the primary schools will assist in the social inclusion process. Teachers will be trained, students will be taught ICT skills and they will be encouraged to show their new knowledge at the civic centre in their home community. Making Information Communication Technology accessible to primary schools should take on the same intensity and be merged with the objectives of making students numerate and literate. Warschauer state that the social inclusion process overlaps with the socioeconomic equality, but is not equivalent to it (Warschauer, 2007).

The first mention of the term digital divide was made in the political arena demonstrating the fact that government should take the initiative in bridging the divide. It is reported that technology if used correctly will impact positively on a child's learning. "Report suggested that an increasing number of U.S. students understand the basics of writing. And one of several possible reasons for this trend could be the growing use of writing software tools among educators" (eSchoolNews, 2008).

Public school is generally described as being funded by tax dollars and administered by the government, while primary school is defined as an institution where a child receives his/her first stage of compulsory education (Wikipedia, ).

These term and definitions are applicable in Jamaica's context. The class grades for Primary school children in Jamaica ranges from one to six and the age ranges from six years old to 12 years old as shown in appendix 2 and 3 respectively.

Digital Divide in Jamaica's Primary School System

Bridging the digital divide in public schools at the primary level should be a government driven task. Focus should be placed at this atomic level before larger scale initiatives are considered. As stated above, the learning foundation starts at the primary level and this would be an excellent opportunity to establish a technological foundation for the country's future citizens. The foundation should be set by the government, by continuously training teachers in Information Communication Technology related skills. There should also be resources, such as computer labs, appropriate hardware, software, networking facility and internet access provided. The climate should facilitate the teaching/learning process. These factors should lead to the empowerment of the teaching staff and students. Teachers will then be able to find creative ways to teach and undertake research while the students will find new and creative ways to learn. Students may not have access to the technology at home but they can have the access and teaching at school as provided by the government.

Summary

In summary, solving the digital divide is a holistic approach. In reviewing the literature it shows that bridging the digital divide is more than providing the hardware and the software; it is about monitoring, training and continuous training. Social inclusion is a very important aspect of bridging the digital divide one can become a digital citizen and feel socially accepted without personally owning the digital technology. They will be able to access and efficiently use the technology at public facilities like the library and community centres across the island of Jamaica.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

Background:

The comparison between school types of public schools at the primary level should show the disparity that president Clinton and researchers like Cullen spoke about, the disparity between the rich and the poor. In this case it is the disparity between the properly funded schools and the poorly funded schools. The schools are located in various geographical locations around the island and are assigned classifications as urban, rural and remote rural schools. It is widely perceived that urban schools are better funded and equipped than rural and remote rural public schools because of this the urban schools are able to invest in Information Technology resources and employ qualified or trained teachers to teach or transfer knowledge to its students.

Research objectives:

The research will allow key stakeholders, the minister of education, the permanent secretary and regional directors to be aware of the status of the "Digital Divide" at the primary level of the Jamaican education system. The public institutions will be evaluated and measured, and their level of readiness or status will be compared and made known. They will be evaluated on the availability of physical resources, budget, curriculum and the availability of Trained Teachers with Information Technology training. Physical resources for the purpose of the study can be described as: computers, internet access, while the budget covers the money allocated by government for school operation.

  • The research will seek to prove that a large technology gap exists at public school and that if funding is increased administrators will be inclined to invest in technology for teaching and learning purposes for its teachers and students.
  • To measure the extent of the gap by regressing the independent variables on the dependent variables and reporting the existing correlations.
  • To measure the current teachers information technology qualification.

The Research Hypothesis

  • H1 : As funding is increased to public schools at the primary level Administrators will more likely invest in technological teaching resources.
  • H2 : The availability of proper computers and internet access, curriculum and training will encourage teacher participation
  • H3 : An increase in trained teachers with information technology training at the primary level will see a willingness to use technology to teach.

Literature reviews were conducted to form the platform for the research topic. United Nations reports, peer reviewed journals, case studies, the web and books are some of the material reviewed in order to prepare and present the research area. The research is descriptive, with a mixture of quantitative and qualitative approaches being used as the research seeks to explain and answers questions about the digital divide at the primary level. In the interest of time and lack of a sufficient budget to travel the diverse island of Jamaica to collect data from the various schools in the various locale, secondary data was the main source of data used in this study. The secondary data was acquired from the Ministry of Education. The data collected from the Ministry of Education is a copy of, is consistent with the data submitted by the schools and that the Ministry of Education has on record and uses to prepare national reports. The departments that these data were acquired from are the Student Assessment Unit, Core Curriculum Unit and Statistics Unit, interviews were conducted with various Division and Units within the Ministry as deemed necessary. A preliminary data gathering exercise was undertaken. This involved accessing initial data from the Ministry of Education in order to compare schools on the basis of student population, teacher population, facilities, location (urban rural and remote rural) and budget. This aided in selecting a stratified random sample from a wide section of the schools population. Because of transition in government at the time, interviews with the Permanent Secretary, the Minister of Mining and Energy and Minister of Education were not held to get background information or any future plans for policies and programs. However, the information was accessed via the respective ministry's websites. All the measures employed above will ensure validity and reliability of the research.

This research took place primarily in Jamaica using Jamaican schools and data, but it should be adaptable in the wider Caribbean because of the similarity of the region's education structure. It should give more room for future research and also be seen as a call to action by governments who should ideally spearhead these actions.

Nature and Rationale for the Proposed Data Analysis

The quantitative research requires statistical analysis in analysing, interpreting and reporting the data. The statistical application SPSS version 12.0 was used to analyse the data acquired from the Ministry of Education. This will be done by using the appropriate multivariate data analysis techniques applicable to the data collected. For this research a correlation matrix was used to identify the statistically significant relationships. The multivariate data analysis technique used was regression analysis, this showed the relationships between the dependent and independent variable.

Description:

The research was conducted mainly in a quantitative mode by acquiring secondary data from various Units within the Ministry of Education. Interviews were also conducted with Ministry of Education, department heads. Data were gathered from various ministries websites who are responsible for technology based plan, program, policies and implementation at the national level. Data was also gathered from the Ministry of Education to see the number of schools at the primary level with computers and internet access and the computer/pupil ratio per school will be examined. I had planned to observe the information technology teacher learning process of some of the selected schools in the study but time did not permit.

Nature of and Form of the Results

  • Evidence supporting or confirming the hypothesis will be reported.
  • Statistically significant relationships, inverse relationships will be reported.
  • Graphical representation will also be demonstrated.
  • Copies of the report will be made available to key stake holders in the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Mining and Energy.

Constraints/Challenges:

The research has a limited timeline. Therefore, it will be challenging to get data and information in a timely manner. This was true in the case of interviews or policy guides. Accessing and gathering secondary data was sometimes challenging as it required several high level clearance based on the sensitivity of the data required. Funding and human resources will also be a major factor in conducting research of this nature.

Sample Selection and Size

The sample data was collected from various departments in the Ministry of Education, Jamaica.

  1. The Student Assessment Unit (SAU) provided data on the breakdown of computers, internet access and networked facilities by school.
  2. The Statistics Unit provided student, enrolment and teacher data by school.

Six hundred and seventy two schools were selected to participate in the research this represented a diverse mix from the various categories which can be broken down into: School Types, Locale, Region and Parish. School types can be defined as the category of school we are interested in, there are three categories of interest for this research they are: Primary, Primary and Junior High and All Age. The table below is an SPSS output/table generated it displays the frequency distribution for the three school types. The bar chart gives a graphical representation of the distribution of school types in the sample.

Research Limitations/ Constraints Challenges

Besides the constraints challenges listed above, the research showed no sampling bias or respondent's bias. The data that was sent from the schools were deemed accurate and truthful by each principal. In addition to the principal certifying the data, Ministry of Education regional office's employees and the statistics unit's employees had to verify the accuracy of the data received. A school official may not feel obligated to give me the researcher the true status of their school, but they are by law obligated to provide factual and correct information to the Ministry of Education for the proper planning and educating of the nations youths. Getting this data from the last official source eliminated all the unnecessary biases such as sampling and respondent.

Theoretical frame work

The theoretical frame work used as the basis for conducting this study has been adopted from research conducted by Mark Warschauer "Reconceptualizing the Digital Divide." In the paper Warschauer discusses that solving the problem of the digital divide is much more than merely providing computers and internet connections. He says that it has to be properly planned, implemented, monitored and constantly reviewed in order to be successful. He states that access to ICT is embedded in a complex array of factors encompassing physical, digital, human, and social resources and relationships. He goes on to state that content and language, literacy and education, and community and institutional structures must all be taken into account if meaningful access to new technologies is to be provided. Reconceptualizing the Digital Divide incorporates a systemic or a holistic approach to guarantee success this includes ensuring literacy access as well as ICT access.

In explaining his literacy access model Warschauer defines literacy as the individual skill of being able to read and write. He states that many theorists prefer a broader definition that takes into account the social contexts of literacy practice.

In the table below Warschauer lists seven levels of similarities between literacy and ICT access.

Warschauer explains the table and rows as:

  • The first row both literacy and ICT access are closely connected to advances in human communication and the means of knowledge production.
  • Second, just as ICT access is a prerequisite for full participation in the informational stage of capitalism, literacy was (and remains) a prerequisite for full participation in the earlier industrial stages of capitalism.
  • Third, both literacy and ICT access necessitate a connection to a physical artifact (i.e., a book or a computer), to sources of information that get expressed as content within or via that physical artifact, and to a skill level sufficient to process and make use of that information.
  • Fourth, both involve not only receiving information but also producing it.
  • Finally, they are both tied to somewhat controversial notions of societal divides: the great literacy divide and the digital divide.

Warschauer states that access to ICT for the promotion of social inclusion cannot rest on the provision of devices or conduits alone. Rather it must entail the engagement of a range of resources, all developed and promoted with an eye toward enhancing the social, economic and political power of the targeted clients and communities. He listed the range of resources as 1. Physical, 2. Digital, 3. Human and 4. Social. These labels or resources are used by researchers and theorists who have examined issues of technology and social inclusion.

Effective Use of ICTs

These four sets of resources are very important in bridging the digital divide and contributing to social inclusion. Warschauer states that it is important to realize their iterative relation with ICT use. On the one hand, each of the resources is a contributor to effective use of ICT's. In other words, the presence these resources helps ensures that ICT can be well used and exploited. On the other hand, access to each of these resources is a result of effective use of ICT's. In other words, by using ICT's well, we can help extend and promote access to these resources. If handled well, these resources can thus serve as a virtual circle that promotes social development and inclusion. If handled poorly, these elements can serve as a vicious cycle of underdevelopment and exclusion (Warchauer 2007).

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

The secondary data sets were gathered from the Ministry of Education, Statistics and Student Assessment Units. They were merged, accessed in SPSS 12.0, coded and analysed. A population sample of 672 primary level schools which is a representative strata covering the entire island of Jamaica comprising of the 14 parishes, 6 school education administration districts called regions and 3 locales, urban, rural and remote rural. Corresponding frequencies and cross tabulations were performed in order to evaluate the validity of the hypotheses made in the present investigation. In addition, the frequencies and cross tabulations were used as a cursory glance to identify anomalies and test the accuracy and completeness of the data. Bar charts were also generated to get a graphical representation of each variable. Correlation matrix was used to identify statistical significant relationships and regression analysis was also used to test the strength of relationships between the independent and dependent variables.

Quantitative Analysis

The following section of this chapter deals with the quantitative analyses of the data. The sample size of the present study represents 672 or 85 percent of schools at the primary level. Accessing the secondary data from the Ministry of Education departments proved to be very beneficial in getting a representation as close to the entire primary level population as possible.

The Research Hypothesis

H1 : As funding is increased to public schools at the primary level Administrators will invest in technological teaching resources.

The variable school classify was used as a variable for both measuring the enrolment levels and the government funding levels at the schools since both variables are synonymous with each other. This means schools are classified based on the school's consistent enrolment figures and they are also funded based on their classification. The greater the enrolment will lead to a higher classification which will lead to more government funding for the schools.

The tables below show the cross tabulations between classification and the variables regions, School type, Locale, Internet, and networked. School's classifications are linked to the school's enrolment and ranges from 1 to 5, one is the lowest range on the scale. "The School's Profile" published by the Ministry of Education, Jamaica lists the ranges as follows: Class 1 Student population less than or equal to 250 pupils, Class 2 Student population less than or equal 251 to 500 pupils, Class 3 Student population less than or equal to 501 to 850 pupils, Class 4 Student population less than or equal to 851 to 1200 pupils and Class 5 Student population Greater than 1200 pupils. (See appendix 24)

The school's districts called regions are listed as: Region 1. Kingston, Region 2. Port Antonio, Region 3. Brown's Town, Region 4. Montego Bay, Region 5. Mandeville and Region 6. Old Harbour. (See appendix 1)

Additionally, further analysis of the tables shows: table 4.4 shows that schools with higher classifications and more funding have internet access on the other hand those that are classified at the lower level the majority does not have access to internet. Table 4.3 shows that most urban schools are classified at the mid to higher end. In examining this data we can conclude that the urban schools are better funded than rural and remote rural schools. We can also conclude that schools that are properly funded will invest more in technology, this we can identify in table 4.3 as the internet. This will lead us to reject the null hypothesis and conclude that as funding is increased to public schools at the primary level Administrators will invest in technological teaching resources.

H2 : The availability of proper technology physical resources, curriculum and training will encourage teacher participation

This hypothesis measures the impact of physical resources, curriculum and training and the encouragement of teacher participation. Physical resources is defined and described in the data as computers, internet and network availability.

The primary curriculum at present does not support Information technology while there is a section on page 293 of the grades 1-3 guide titled "the need for technology in education" there is no structured guide for teachers. The primary curriculum main components are: Drama, language arts, mathematics, music, Physical education, religious education, science, social studies and visual arts.

H3: An increase in trained IT teachers at the primary level will not see a willingness to use technology to teach.

There are six teachers colleges in Jamaica, (see appendix 19) of the six only MICO offers a course in instructional technology. (see appendix...MICO curriculum) The instructional technology course of it self is theoretical and only goes into various technologies that may be used in the class room. The usual Microsoft Office suites are taught but no Internet or Web courses.

Digital Divide Evaluation

The Digital Divide data evaluation was statistically analysed by using SPSS 12.0 and by employing the correlation and regression analysis.

Correlation coefficient is a quantitative measure of the strength of the linear relationship between two variables. The sign (+ or -) indicates the direction of the relationship. The value can range from +1 to -1, with +1 indicating a perfect positive relationship, 0 indicating no relation ship, and -1 indicating a perfect negative or reverse relationship (as one variable grows larger, the other variable grows smaller). (Joseph F. Hair, Jr et. al 2005)

CONCLUSION AND FUTURE WORK

Conclusions

A study was undertaken with the main objective of assessing the status of the digital divide among primary level public sector schools in Jamaica. This study entailed selection of representative public sector primary level schools, and accessing secondary data from the Ministry of Education, Jamaica. The data was analyzed using SPSS version 12.0. and was done so quantitatively. In the Quantitative analysis, there were significant difference between Primary schools and All Age and primary and Junior High school and also between urban schools and rural and remote rural schools. Based on the results, positive correlations were observed between enrolment and school budget and enrolment and primary trained teachers. However, negative correlations were observed on region and internet, Computer count and computer pupil ratio and region and computer count to list a few of the inverse relationships. The regression analysis also showed there were statistically significant relationships when school classify, networked and internet was regressed on each other. The following conclusion may be drawn from the quantitative results obtained from the study.

The study findings are:
  1. Of the 672 schools analysed only 30.5 percent had internet access and only 18.3 percent of the total population networked.
  2. There is no information technology curriculum at the primary level
  3. Information Technology is not a required course at teacher training institutions.
  4. There is a high correlation amongst schools with larger budget and computers. Schools with larger budgets have more computers they are networked and have internet access. Schools with smaller budgets have less computers, few are networked or have internet access.

Future work

Given the importance of solving the digital divide at the primary level of Jamaica's education system which would lead to social inclusion and creating digital citizens to compete globally the following future work may be undertaken:

  1. Increase the scope of the study to include preparatory schools which are privately funded this would make for an interesting comparison with government funded schools.
  2. Research looking into schools leadership should be a factor in determining if individual principals find creative ways of attracting funding for labs, computers, network and internet access in the absence of government help.
  3. Government should create and implement policies that will develop and upgrade curriculum at the various teacher training institutions to equip teachers with skills needed to teach and make relevant information technology in school.
  4. Given the high incidences of school robberies and computer theft research should be done to measure the extent of these incidents. A holistic approach should be employed in securing the computers the security measures should be physical this may involve securing the computers to the work stations, colour coding and labeling system units and monitors so that they may be easily identifiable and retrievable. Also, installing antitheft systems like "Front Door retriever system" are among the systems that can be used to deter theft and recover systems.

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