Robinson wants removal of taxes on tablets and computers ahead of schools reopening

June 24, 2020
Opposition spokesperson on Technology, Julian Robinson

Opposition spokesperson on Technology, Julian Robinson, is calling on the government to immediately remove the General Consumption Tax (GCT) on tablets and computer devices to make them more affordable to parents ahead of the reopening of schools.

"This will allow parents to acquire devices at more affordable prices, enabling their children to access online education from home," Robinson said.

Robinson pointed out that many students who do not have computers or tablets at home nor appropriate internet access, have simply been left behind.

"My own estimate from the feedback I have received, is that over 50% of our students had no access to online education during this period. The Ministry of Education must conduct an in-depth assessment to determine the extent of the regression and put in place appropriate measures to correct this,"Robinson said.

He argued that solutions must be found now to assist the thousands of Jamaican students who have no access to the internet in this time of COVID-19 school closure.

The Shadow Minister says the government’s failure to deliver tablets to the nation's schools over the past four years, under the established Tablet in Schools Programme, is a signal act of gross mismanagement and dereliction of duty.

He said the government's floundering has left a large number of the student population without access to an essential tool of education in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"One of the greatest manifestations of bad and poor management is that the Jamaica Labour Party administration is yet to deliver one new tablet device to a student, having been in office for almost 4 ½ years. He said the government's inability to deliver the devices is equivalent to a gross dereliction of duty to the young people of this country." 

Robinson said the coronavirus pandemic has exposed grave and significant inequalities, particularly in our educational sector, and that we cannot move forward until these inequities are adequately addressed.

He said further, that come September, as schools face a new normal, students will be required to do a combination of in school and at home online learning.

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