IDB Official Says Digital Economy Will Enhance Public Service Delivery

The IDB Regional Chief was speaking at the recent launch of the Companies Office of Jamaica’s (COJ) newly established Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston. Among the potential benefits to be derived, she says, are the streamlining of benefits, so that they “get to where they ought to be,” and significant savings on transaction costs. Story Highlights Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Therese Turner-Jones, believes Jamaica’s proposed transformation to a fully digital economy will enhance public service delivery and, by extension, the lives of persons accessing attendant provisions. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Manager, Therese Turner-Jones, believes Jamaica’s proposed transformation to a fully digital economy will enhance public service delivery and, by extension, the lives of persons accessing attendant provisions.Among the potential benefits to be derived, she says, are the streamlining of benefits, so that they “get to where they ought to be,” and significant savings on transaction costs.The IDB Regional Chief was speaking at the recent launch of the Companies Office of Jamaica’s (COJ) newly established Electronic Business Registration Form (eBRF) at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.The online platform, which was launched by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, replaces the COJ’s ‘one-stop shop’ paper-based ‘superform’ that was introduced in 2014. It will facilitate 24-hour business registrations at the agency’s website – www.orcjamaica.com, from any location globally.Mrs. Turner-Jones said a 2018 IDB Study of Latin American and Caribbean countries showed that approximately 90 per cent of all government service transactions in these territories were done in person.The data, she further said, showed that only four per cent of all government service interactions in Jamaica were conducted digitally, describing this as “a very low number.”Mrs. Turner Jones said the study revealed that Barbados averaged the highest figure with 17 per cent, while Nicaragua only had a one per cent out-turn.She contended that “every single Jamaican ought to be able to access a government service digitally,” particularly in light of Jamaica’s extensive mobile penetration and coverage.“This is the world we are living in. There is no reason why most of what we want to do with the Government can’t be transacted on a mobile device,” she further argued.Mrs. Turner-Jones said the IDB study also showed that the number of government services in Jamaica not involving multiple transactions was a mere 11 per cent, compared to 63 per cent in Uruguay.Additionally, she said the data outlined that Caribbean nationals spend an average of four and a half hours to complete any government transaction in person, noting that this often involved visiting several agencies.While noting that this betters the Latin American average of nearly six hours, Mrs. Turner-Jones maintained that “it’s really not good.”In terms of cost, she said in developed countries, such as the United Kingdom, transactions done in person averaged $15 compared to 40 cents when done digitally.Mrs. Turner-Jones noted that in Mexico, “which is probably a little more comparable to Jamaica,” the cost is $9 for in-person transactions versus 45 cents for the digital format.She emphasised that this scenario “cannot continue… [and] shouldn’t be,” against the background of the onset of the technology-driven fourth industrial revolution, “because we know that [digitally] we can deliver services more efficiently.”Noting Prime Minister Holness’ challenge in 2017 for a multi-stakeholder effort towards positioning Jamaica to become the Caribbean’s first digital economy, Mrs. Turner-Jones said the eBRF’s launch represents a “really important first step in making this a reality.”The Electronic Business Registration Form creation is a collaborative effort carried out under the Public Sector Transformation and Modernisation Programme in the Cabinet Office, with IDB funding support. read more

Proposed Nutrition Policy to be Completed In Academic Year 20192020

One major goal of the Government during the academic year 2019/2020 is to complete the proposed Nutrition Policy, which will restrict certain types of sugary drinks in schools and provide healthier food options for students. Story Highlights This is in keeping with the ban implemented in January 2019, which restricts the circulation of certain types of sugary drinks in schools and public health institutions. One major goal of the Government during the academic year 2019/2020 is to complete the proposed Nutrition Policy, which will restrict certain types of sugary drinks in schools and provide healthier food options for students.This is in keeping with the ban implemented in January 2019, which restricts the circulation of certain types of sugary drinks in schools and public health institutions.At the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s annual Back-to-School Press Conference on Thursday (August 29), Minister with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Karl Samuda, said the Ministry has started working with concessionaires to ensure that students are properly fed during the five days of school.“In the area of nutrition and school-feeding, our Nutrition Policy will reinforce the push to restrict the availability of non-sugary drinks in schools. We support the drive by the Ministry of Health and we’re sincerely making an effort to support that Policy for the betterment of the health of our children,” Minister Samuda said.“The inclusion of local products in the feeding programme, as well as the reintroduction of the Breakfast Programme, is currently being finalised for implementation within this school year,” he added.Mr. Samuda also stated that Nutrition Products will be producing juices for selected schools and will increase its number of deliveries.On Tuesday (August 27) at the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ Quarterly Press Briefing, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, gave an update on the Government’s activities towards finalising the Policy, and stated that his Ministry will be working alongside the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information for its implementation.Meanwhile, Mr. Samuda said most schools have embraced water consumption as a primary liquid for hydration, and that manufacturers have made adjustments in terms of revisiting their formula… so that it does not have the high sugar content.The Policy is to be submitted to Cabinet for review and approval. At the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information’s annual Back-to-School Press Conference on Thursday (August 29), Minister with responsibility for Education, Youth and Information, Hon. Karl Samuda, said the Ministry has started working with concessionaires to ensure that students are properly fed during the five days of school. read more

Teachers Receiving Specialised Training To Rectify Student Learning Challenges

Story Highlights The intervention, which has been reaping tremendous success, particularly in relation to the students’ ability to read, has resulted from the utilisation of the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes. The methodologies, which were initially imparted to 50 teachers in 2017, are designed to diagnose and correct language-based learning disabilities. More than 70 primary schools islandwide are now benefiting from the expertise of some 130 teachers who have been trained to detect and successfully correct learning challenges in students.The intervention, which has been reaping tremendous success, particularly in relation to the students’ ability to read, has resulted from the utilisation of the Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes.The methodologies, which were initially imparted to 50 teachers in 2017, are designed to diagnose and correct language-based learning disabilities.These are now being expanded to include an additional 120 teachers, who will be trained and certified by the Creative Language-Based Learning (CLBL) Foundation.According to the Foundation’s Consultant, Mary McDonald, based on a system that has been implemented to track the teachers’ progress, “we have been able to see substantial increases in how the children are able to pick up the different [aspects] of reading”.“So, for example, they may have little children who are not familiar with even letters and sounds, although they are expected to be at their age… they have made a jump of 300 per cent in those areas, [and] in the ability to sound out words they don’t know, they have increased 600 per cent,” she added.The consultant was speaking at a contract-signing ceremony with the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) and CLBL on Wednesday (September 18) at JSIF’s office in Kingston.Ms. McDonald cited, as another example, a six-year-old girl who was unable to read when she started primary school, noting that she was only familiar with five consonants and few vowels, which she could not sound.She said, however, that after being instructed by a Lindamood Bell-trained teacher, she commenced reading at the grade-four level.“So that’s a huge difference to this one little girl, and the change in how that girl interacts with the world is indescribable. She went from having her head down and being frustrated, angry and acting out in the classroom, to being the first one with her hands up [responding to questions, and becoming] extremely confident,” she revealed.The education consultant pointed out that some of the teachers who are already proficient in the Lindamood-Bell Processes have trained other educators and are going to other institutions to assist students.“So we are very proud of what the teachers have done, and we are proud to receive those 130 teachers and the thousands of children who they work with on a daily basis,” Ms. McDonald said.Meanwhile, CLBL Founder, Mandy Melville, who started the Foundation after she was recommended to the programme for her dyslexic son, said the entity plans to reach out to as many teachers as is possible.“I would love to infuse this in as many schools as possible; the more schools, the better the exams. It’s not just for dyslexic children… . It’s also a tool the teachers can use in the regular classroom. How they share the knowledge and check that the youngsters are following up on what they’re training them is just amazing,” she informed.Noting that the teachers are very enthusiastic about learning the methodology, Ms. Melville said “the more they hear and the more they see their colleagues being able to reach the children using the programme, the more teachers want to participate”.“Teachers who started in 2017 continue working with us because we are trying to develop them into local instructional leaders and mentors, so that they can work and share the programme with other teachers and make it more successful,” she added. More than 70 primary schools islandwide are now benefiting from the expertise of some 130 teachers who have been trained to detect and successfully correct learning challenges in students. read more