CornerstoneConnex was an initiative created to enhance or establish Internet connectivity in schools and communities to advance learning and the education experience for Jamaican school children. In response to COVID-19, we dedicated efforts to assisting our designated Partner Schools in getting connected to the Internet through trusted providers and technology partners, funding connectivity, and encouraging connectivity in the classroom to improve the learning experience.
Additionally, we paired CornerstoneConnex with “Cybersafe Yuhself!”, a program which highlighted the importance of empowering Jamaican children, their parent and their teachers to better protect themselves online.
Access to the Internet, with sufficient bandwidth, is essential for the development of an information society. Lack of broadband connectivity is preventing widespread use of Internet in education and other areas of life in many developing countries. A legal and regulatory environment that fosters investment and innovation is critical to enabling broadband access. This is not just a matter of connectivity. For access to be meaningful, it must also be affordable for schools and individuals, and teachers and students must acquire digital literacy and other skills required to make best use of it.
Currently, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI) has identified 224 Schools across Jamaica with no source of Internet connection. Due to their rural locations, it is difficult to set up quality wifi networks in these areas from existing Internet providers. Cornerstone Jamaica has longstanding partnerships with 11 schools within Westmoreland and Hanover Parishes. Our Principals from these schools have reported that their current service is minimal and not sufficient for classroom use. They are looking for our sustainable solution to improve Internet connectivity.
This map highlights both partner schools and community sites, like St. Anthony’s Kitchen in Negril that have or will receive internet connection through CornerstoneConnex under phase 1.
More than ever, connected devices have been woven into society as an integral part of how our children learn and communicate. Cornerstone Jamaica believes that Cyber Safety for Jamaican children has become paramount. With the growing access of the internet for online learning, there has come an increase in children’s social communications through platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, TikTok and Gaming. Data collected from your children’s devices, profiles and online activities can detail highly specific information, which can be exploited by bad actors, namely stalkers, bullies, blackmailers and hackers, for their personal gain.
With the approval of numerous stakeholders and the endorsement of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, initial pilot sessions were well received in January 2021 by a large handful of Jamaican primary students. CyberSafe Yuhself! was officially launched on April 13, 2021, beginning with Broughton Primary School, one of Cornerstone Jamaica’s official partner schools. Over the next nine weeks, online CyberSafety workshops for students, their parents and their teachers were held in the eleven partner primary schools, along with high school students at Manning’s School and Lennon High School.