$125 Fee For Digital Textbooks

Melissa Edwards, Senior Reporter | 13 Opinions
Published: June 14, 2017 1:11 pm AST
Photo Credit: Javon Liburd/BVI Platinum News
The Ministry of Education and Culture will be rolling out its digital textbook initiative in September, with Grades 7 and 8 students initially, which will see parents having to pay an annual fee of $125.

In the House of Assembly yesterday, June 13, Hon. Myron Walwyn, Minister of Education and Culture, announced that government will be working with FortunaPIX, a company based in Nashville, USA, with a development centre in India, to provide a digital textbook device.

He said that currently, parents of students in Grade 7 spend approximately $241.41 for textbooks, while parents of students in Grade 8 spend approximately $330.64.

"Madame Speaker, with this new initiative, the textbook will be free, but there will be an annual fee of $125.00 for the use of the tablet and the other technological advances that go along with it," Hon. Walwyn said.

The subjects to be placed on the tablets include Mathematics, English Language, Social Studies, Physical Education, Science and Spanish. English Literature will not be included as a textbook because of the frequent change in the books used.

Minister Walwyn said that the Ministry will have in place user agreements with parents, who will be responsible for replacing the tablet if damaged.

He stated that the expectation is that the digital books will be distributed to parents, students and teachers for the start of the 2017/2018 school year, and the programme will be monitored with the help of FortunaPix, the ICT Unit in the Ministry and officials at the Ministry.

How It Works

The Education Minister explained that FortunaPix is an end to end digital education solution company that authors digital books, specifically for a curriculum combined with rich multimedia digital content in the form of 3D videos, 3D simulations (Mono and Stereo formats) and HTML5 assets.

"This is done on a cutting edge technology platform that hosts these digital books (inclusive of multimedia content) and delivered through a customized education specific notebook/tablet, including a digital assessment module and analytics and feedback module."

He added that the solution is designed to work completely offline, where all the content within the tablet can be consumed without the use of the internet.

"In addition, the online feature of the solution provides teachers with the ability to create digital question banks, use such banks to test those students on-the-go, and generate instant results and analytics, thus allowing teachers to spend significant time in working with students on learning and intervention."

All information will be stored in the Cloud and students will not have access to the internet except if the teacher provides access for a particular reason.

Touching more on the implementation, Minister Walwyn reemphasized that the Ministry intends to start the digital textbook initiative with Grades 7 and 8 in September 2017.

He said using the curricula for 12 subjects for both grades, textbooks will be authored (written) by FortunaPIX in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, and they will be placed on the tablets.

"The teachers’ notes will also be uploaded so that they are readily available to teachers and students. The textbooks will be interactive to explain concepts in different ways to help students who may have difficulty in grasping a particular concept. It is expected that for the 2018/2019 school year, Grade 9 will be added," the Minister stated.

He noted that FortunaPIX held a series of consultations with stakeholders to ensure that Education Officers, Principals, IT personnel, teachers, students and parents understand how the digital textbooks operate.

Readers' Opinion

Please note that the opinions posted are the opinions of its author and does not reflect the views of the management, staff, parent company or sponsors of Virgin Islands Platinum News.