While no definition is provided on information and communication technologies (ICTs), the term is used across government documents.
Distance education is defined in the 2013 Education Act (amended in 2019) as “an educational process in which a significant proportion of the teaching is conducted through one medium or a combination of media by persons removed in space or time from the learners”.
Constitution and laws: The 2013 Education Act (amended in 2019) includes the development of skills in problem solving, information processing, and computing, as well as “an understanding of the role of science and technology in society together with scientific and technological skills” under the specific goals and objectives of education (Article 3).
The 2010 Constitution of Montserrat makes no reference to technology.
Policies, plans and strategies: While there is no specific ICT in Education Policy/Strategy (with plans to develop one in the future), several government policies and strategies support the integration of ICT in education.
The 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan provides the policy framework for national ICT development within key sectors, including education. The five (5) focus areas for prioritised action in the application of ICT towards achieving the National ICT Vision towards a “green, connected and thriving Montserrat” include Environment, Learning, Access, Virtual and Adoption (e-lava). Learning objectives relate to the “effective infusion of ICTs throughout the education system for enhanced teaching, learning and school administration, with strategies to 1) enhance the education experience and its effectiveness through formal and informal channels and 2) accelerate the development of on-island ICT capability and talent, with a propensity for ICT-based innovation and creativity.
According to the policy access objectives which aim to ensure pervasive, robust, affordable, on-island and international ICT infrastructure and broadband connectivity, the concept of the Universal Service Fund (USF) is not feasible in Montserrat since there is no place that is not being served, and population size makes any such facility financially burdensome on the telecommunications service providers. However, some type of funding should be considered to cater for specialised services – e.g. ICTs for persons with disabilities (ICT4PWD).
The previous 2012-16 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan similarly included learning objectives, which the more recent policy aimed to update.
The 2012-20 Montserrat Education Development Plan also includes ICT objectives, such as the upgrade of ICT access ond capability for teaching, learning and administration, with an expectation that “all young people achieve high standards, particularly in literacy, numeracy and ICT capability”.
Digital competency frameworks: There are no digital competency frameworks for teachers or students.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: There are no changes in policies or laws related to technology and education after the COVID-19 pandemic.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2016-30 National Energy Policy aims to catalogue government owned facilities and institutions with critical loads to be met by solar energy pilot projects such as hospitals, schools, the local abattoir.
Computers and devices: The 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan supports a ‘Tablets for Students’ programme as a means for advancing the education agenda, provision of ICT equipment for all schools, and use of smart phones as teaching/learning tools in schools. Laptops were distributed in phases to secondary school students between 2013 to 2015, with the rollout halted partly on account of concerns over the quality of some of the laptops supplied. The previous 2012-16 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan supported financial incentives for secondary school students to acquire laptops, in addition to laptops for secondary school teachers.
The 2012-20 Montserrat Education Development Plan similarly supports students’ access to computers with access.
Internet connectivity: One of the ICT targets of the 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan was for 100% of schools to be equipped with computers and reliable broadband internet access by 2018, with 75% of the population regularly using the Internet by 2021.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
The 2013 Education Act (amended in 2019) includes distance education as part of the public education system (Article 2), while the 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan includes multi-modal distance education as part of its guiding learning principles.
During the mandatory school closures due to COVID-19 in 2020, all members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (including Montserrat) transitioned to a remote, digital education system where children with digital access continued to receive education through digital platforms at home.
The development of students digital skills is supported by several government documents. The 2013 Education Act (amended in 2019) includes problem solving, information processing, computing, scientific and technological skills as part of the objectives of education (Article 3). The 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan aims to build a “nation of modern and lifelong learners” through the development of ICT literacy and advanced ICT skills of the population and integration of ICTs into the curriculum (ICT as a subject) to foster enhanced programming and system integration skills. Similarly, the previous 2012-16 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan supported the training of students in ICT-facilitated learning (research, assignments, interactive study) and the integration of ICTs into the curriculum (ICT as a subject). Similar objectives are set out in the 2012-20 Montserrat Education Development Plan, which aims for all young people to achieve high standards, particularly in literacy, numeracy and ICT capability. Functional ICT skills are understood as the abilty for young people to: 1) use ICT to find, select and bring together relevant information, 2) develop, interpret and exchange information for a purpose, and 3) apply ICT safely to enhance their learning and quality of their work. Emphasis is also placed on the role of women in ICT by promoting the use of ICTs through programmes such as Girls in ICT Day and National ICT Week.
The 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan supports the professional development and training of teachers and administrative staff in the use of ICT for education enrichment. It additionally supports the integration and training of private school teachers/educators in the use of ICTs for education. Similar objectives were supported in the previous 2012-16 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan, which aimed to train teachers and administrative staff in the use of ICT for education enrichment (e.g. in English, Mathematics, Sciences).
2.4.1. Data privacy
There is no data privacy law in Monsterrat, with the 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan highlighting the need for key policies/legislation to be developed regarding data protection and privacy. On January 19, 2022, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States invited applications for a consultant to develop the Terms of Reference for drafting harmonized data protection legislation in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (which includes Monsterrat).
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan supports the development of key policies/legislation on issues such as computer misuse, cybercrime, and child protection. It additionally highlights the need for public education and sensitisation in ICT application and usage, also to include safe Internet usage and online practices.
Montserrat is one of the 14 British overseas territories and is therefore governed by the legal system of English Common Laws and Statutory Law.
The Minstry of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports is responsible for overseeing ICT objectives related to education, such as ICT curriculum development and teacher training, in collaboration with the Montserrat Community College, Ministry of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy (MCWLE), and National ICT Council. The National ICT Council was additionally established as a cabinet-appointed, multi-stakeholder council responsible for steering and advising on execution of the National ICT Strategy.
The Ministry of Communications, Works Labour and Energy (MCWLE) is responsible for the implementation of the 2017-21 National ICT Policy, Strategy and Implementation Plan, assuming the role of “National ICT Champion”. The National ICT Unit within the MCWL is specifically responsible for the implementation and execution of the National ICT Strategy. Its services include the implementation of projects and prograns geared toward ICT national development, development of educational and awareness programs to build capacity in schools and the community in general, implementation of the National ICT Policy, and the coordination of iCT initiatives across the government of Monsterrat.
The Montserrat Info-Communications Authority (MICA) plays a critical role in raising awareness, educating citizens, and providing information and guidance for online safety. To maximise its effectiveness in this regard, MICA works together with the appropriate agencies or groups in the government, private sector and civil society.
There is no national ban of mobile device use in schools.