Today the community of Seaview Gardens in Kingston came out to welcome the Minister of Education Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites and the Digicel Foundation team at the Seaview Gardens Primary School. Today’s event was in support the students of the Seaview Primary School ASTEP centre which has received five desktop computers and one laptop from the Digicel Foundation. In keeping with its emphasis on the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to improve literacy island wide, the Digicel Foundation signed over a total of thirty-six computers to support the Ministry of Education’s Alternative Secondary Transitional Education Programme (ASTEP). Seaview Gardens Primary is the first of six centres chosen by the Ministry to receive these much needed resources. The Ministry of Education launched ASTEP in September 2011. It is a parallel pathway provided for students who are not certified literate and will require special intervention. The National ASTEP Coordinator, Novelette Denton-Prince explained that “The ASTEP Centres are providing customized educational programmes for students who are at the age for secondary level education but are not at the required academic level. Some of the features of this programme include small class size, differentiating curriculum, and a combination of strategies to address existing needs of students [including] specially trained teachers and a relaxed learning environment. Once students’ competence levels have improved they will be allowed to transition and integrate into mainstream secondary schools.” “With the injection of machines, it will improve [teaching] and it will stimulate the way students learn,” notes Bellefield Primary Principal, Paul Grant. Bellefield’s ASTEP centre is to one of schools slated to receive computers. The National Education Trust will oversee the installation of the computers in the remaining five ASTEP Centres at Fellowship Primary and Junior High, Rio Bueno Primary, Darliston Primary, Bellefield Primary and Eltham Park Primary. “Digicel Foundation was very gracious and giving when we approached them for help with the ASTEP centres, in less than a month they had approved our request and were fully on board” remarked Latoya Harris, Manager of Public Private Partnerships at the National Education Trust. On hand to install the computers were members of the Camara Jamaica Foundation. The Camara Jamaica Foundation is the local chapter of Camara International, a non-profit volunteer organisation that uses technology to improve education in Africa, Jamaica and Ireland. Camara International trains volunteers in computer repairs, who then refurbish computers to be used in educational institutions. The Digicel Foundation has partnered with the Camara Jamaica Foundation over the last year to put 400 desktops and 100 laptops in a variety of educational institutions island wide, including the thirty six dedicated to ASTEP Centres. “Technology gets these kids excited and this excitement stimulates learning,” noted Samantha Chantrelle, Executive Director of the Digicel Foundation, adding “Having something new in the classroom really encourages them to come to school. At the Digicel Foundation we try to identify ways of increasing the content delivery which in turn sparks students’ interest.” The Digicel Foundation’s support of ASTEP is another commitment to Jamaica’s goal of achieving 100% literacy in the country by 2015.