The 2019 Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) Authority Act defines information and communications technology (ICT) as “any technology employed in the collection, storage, use or transmission of information, and includes any technology that involves the use of computers or any telecommunications system.”
The 2020 BYOD Policy Guidelines defines information and communications technology (ICT) as any technology employed in the collection, storage, use or transmission of information and includes any technology that involves the use of computers or any telecommunication system.
The 2022 ICT in Education Policy defines open education resources as electronic and digital teaching and learning materials made available for use within the education system.
Constitution and laws: The 1962 Jamaica Constitution, as amended in 2015, the 1965 Education Act, as amended in 1980, and the 1980 Education Regulations do not mandate the inclusion of technology in schools.
Additional legislative frameworks regarding ITC include the 2019 Information and Communication and Technology (ICT) Authority Act, the 2020 Data Protection Act, the 2015 Cybercrimes Act and the 2003 Access to Information Act.
Policies, plans and strategies: Jamaica has a policy framework to include the learning and use of technology in the classroom setting. The 2004 Task Force on Educational Reform Jamaica; A Transformed Education System recommended giving internet connectivity in schools, expanding the learning experience via the use of technology, and promoting the implementation of teaching and learning through remote modes.
Jamaica’s National Development Plan, Vision 2030 includes National Outcomes # 2 and 11- world-class education and training and a technology-enabled society.
Under the Jamaica Vision 2030 framework, the Education Sector Plan 2009–2030 envisions the incorporation of technology in various educational areas, including ICT training and certification, as well as the creation of mechanisms that would allow the school system to integrate new and emerging technologies and ideas to improve the teaching and learning process. In addition, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009–2030 aims to improve student learning by expanding the use of ICT and integrating ICT into all levels and processes of the education system.
The 2011 Government of Jamaica Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy acknowledges the government’s commitment to the use of ICT as a key enabler to develop all sectors, with a focus on the creation of a knowledge-based society and aims to achieve a thriving, digital economy and knowledge-based society with opportunities for accelerated growth and which includes every Jamaican.
The 2020 BYOD Policy Guidelines mention the objective to transform the ways in which teachers deliver their lessons and integrate ITCs into the education system.
The 2022 ICT in Education Policy goals are learning opportunities for all, transforming the teaching and learning process, efficient management and administration of the education system, and promoting the development of ICT Innovations.
Digital competency frameworks: No formal digital competency framework for students or teachers was found to exist in Jamaica.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: Various policies have been drafted and enacted after 2020 regarding ICT in education, including the 2022 ICT in Education Policy, the 2020 BYOD Policy Guidelines, and the 2020 Data Protection Act.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
The Universal Service Fund is mandated to ensure access to information and communication tools to facilitate development.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009-2030 intends to provide widespread access to the Internet, computing devices, information literacy, and telecommunication services. The 2022 ICT in Education Policy aims to modernize and adapt school infrastructure to encourage the use of ICT tools in teaching and learning.
Electricity: The 2022 ICT in Education Policy mentions the importance of providing a physical infrastructure and an appropriate legal framework to ensure the success of an ICT-based education system. A robust physical infrastructure will help to foster and support a user-friendly and safe environment for ICT use in the education system.
The Education Sector Plan 2009-2030 aims to establish a mechanism to ensure the equitable distribution of resources for maintaining and improving school plants.
For the 2020 BYOD Policy Guidelines to be implemented, schools must ensure to have all the necessary infrastructure, such as a stable power supply from the local grid.
Computers and devices: The Sectoral 2021 Commitments include providing devices to students. In 2020, the initiative One Laptop or Tablet Per Child was launched to promote inclusivity in the education sector and the Tables for Teachers Programme. The e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited is an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy, and Technology whose mission is to support the improvement of national learning outcomes through the provision of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions and projects involving the provision of devices for students and teachers. The e-Learning High School Project's objective was to integrate Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) into delivered lessons and contribute to improving the quality of education at the secondary level, as outlined in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009-2030. The initiative aimed to supply schools with hardware, software, and devices for teachers and students.
Own Your Own Device Programme (OYOD) is an initiative through which the Government is assisting with the purchase of tablets or laptops for students who are in need but are not on the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH).
At the policy level, the 2022 ICT in Education Policy proposes to increase access to ICT resources, such as ICT tools, content and connection. The 2020 BYOD Policy Guidelines support schools to enable students to bring their own technology and devices to school to enhance the learning process. The National Education Strategic Plan 2011-2020 aims to develop and provide appropriate resources in print and electronic forms to support curriculum delivery.
Internet connectivity: The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009-2030 aims to attain affordable universal broadband access and to ensure equitable access of all education and training institutions to low-cost, reliable high-speed internet and computer facilities.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009-2030 aims to provide electronic e-services, including e-education. In addition, it proposed the development of digital educational content and the utilization of electronic media to offer courses, including online courses.
This 2022 ICT in Education Policy supports the use of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) and open standards within the education system and supports and promotes the use of Open Educational Resources (OERs) at all levels of the education system. The Sectoral 2021 Commitments propose to develop a Public Virtual School for students and parents.
In response to the global health crisis of COVID-19, the Government of Jamaica suspended face-to-face classes at all levels and relocated to online and televised learning and the provision of learning kits. The Remediation Plans include learning platforms, televised learning and other distance education to mitigate the learning loss.
At the level of the curriculum, the inclusion of ICT is proposed both as a learning objective and as a learning instrument. The Education Sector Plan 2009-2030 aspires for students to gain information technology skills and be proficient in their use. In addition, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009-2030 aspires to incorporate ICT into the education system at all levels. The 2022 ICT in Education Policy aims to transform the learning process, provide learning opportunities for all, and create an ICT-based education system. Moreover, it proposes to transform student learning by integrating ICTs within the curriculum and assessment and using ICT Curricula Integration Standards. The 2020 BYOD Policy Guidelines mention the objective of integrating ICTs into the education system and transforming the learning process by integrating ICTs within the curriculum and during assessments.
The 2011 Government of Jamaica Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Policy aims to systematically develop education and skills capacity to support advanced research and innovation in ICT.
Regarding STEM education, according to the 2022 ICT in Education Policy, the Ministry’s National Standards Curriculum is predicated on science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) as the fundamental base. In addition, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009-2030 proposed to develop education and skills capacities and to encourage the development of science and technology education in schools.
The 2022 ICT in Education Policy aims to enhance the teaching process and establish an education system in which ICTs are integrated into the teaching and learning environment. According to the 2022 ICT in Education Policy, all stakeholders must be trained on the use of ICT.
The Education Sector Plan 2009-2030 outlines the establishment of frameworks for improving the character of the teaching workforce in order to attain outstanding educators. Among other measures, this would entail ensuring that all instructors have ongoing opportunities to increase their knowledge and skills and develop new approaches, evaluation methods, and technologies.
According to the 2022 ICT in Education Policy, reorientation to new methodologies/competencies and approaches to teaching and learning should be included in the curricula of all training institutions and in-service teacher professional development programmes.
The Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Sector Plan 2009-2030 aims to develop and institutionalize a teacher education system that provides a technology-integrated learning environment.
2.4.1. Data privacy
Regarding data protection, the 2020 Data Protection Act outlines the fundamental principles for the treatment and preservation of personal information in the public and private sectors. In addition, the 2015 Cybercrimes Act contains penalties for the use and protection of electronic data. Both Acts address data protection in a general sense, excluding educational settings and minors.
The 2022 ICT in Education Policy cyber and data security must be prioritized at all times during ICT in education implementation.
The Government of Jamaica Data Collection and Information Sharing Programme is an initiative of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information that intends to encourage consistent data gathering and appropriate data and information exchange.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 1927 Obscene Publication Act and the 2015 Cybercrimes Act mention the penalty for a person who maliciously sends electronic communication.
The 2008 Manual for Promoting a Culture of Security and Safety in Schools, as amended in 2015, states that school administrators should provide guidelines for creating awareness about bullying in schools as well as identify sanctions to be applied where there are breaches. In addition, it specifies that all reports of bullying must be documented and statistics on them must be maintained. In circumstances where they have been reported, steps must be taken to treat both victims and offenders. The school resource officer or local police must be alerted immediately if the bullying includes criminal behaviour, such as extortion, or any activity that has the potential to evolve into criminal activity.
Education in Jamaica is governed primarily by the Ministry of Education and Youth (MoEY) through its Central Ministry, Regional Offices, Departments and Agencies. The inclusion of ICT in education collaborates with different organizations, such as the e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited for education ICT projects, including providing devices.
According to the 2020 BYOD Policy Guidelines, students and parents participating in the BYOD programme must adhere to the school’s BYOD Policy, BYOD Agreement and/or Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
The 2008 Manual for Promoting a Culture of Security and Safety in Schools, updated in 2015, proposes to require principals to establish clear policies and standards for approved electronic devices in the school. In addition, the Ministry of Education proposes that school boards create clear regulations addressing the use of mobile phones based on their specific usage or lack thereof. Moreover, the 2008 Manual for Promoting a Culture of Security and Safety in Schools, as amended in 2015, regulates the appropriate use of information and communication technology (ICT), stating that, subject to school board approval, the principal must establish clear rules and consequences for all users of school-owned ICT, such as computers, digital images, recording devices, and school internet connectivity. Students, instructors, and other personnel are required to adhere to ICT regulations. ICT rules should also examine the Copyright Act, which is available on the website of the Ministry of the Environment. When feasible, the principal should place filters and restrictions on school computers. Finally, it provides guidelines for social media use in schools.