It has been a long time coming, well actually three administrations long. But finally, on Friday December 14, 2012 a primary school based information technology program called the “In Time Project” was officially handed over to the Government of Saint Lucia, more particularly, the Ministry of Education. And whereas some of the players had been changed—with Minister of Education receiving Friday was Robert Lewis as opposed to Prime Minister Stephenson King back then who was flanked by Tom Chou and Arsene James as Minister of Education—Michael Walker still stood as the founder of the project.
In March of 2011 when the program was launched here after receiving the green light from Didicus Jules, former PS in the former Labour administration a few years earlier, Michael Walker described the program as “a very, very powerful system that enhances the Ministry of Education capacity to actually run the education system in the country.” Former Ambassador of Taiwan Tom Chou said then that a small nation wishing to compete with larger countries stands a better chance of prevailing if it has high quality human resources.
“Education is the key to upgrading the quality of human resources. By taking advantage of modern technology such as computers we can achieve our goals faster,” the Ambassador had said.
With ten million dollars already invested in the project, Walker pointed out that the “In-time” project should make children responsible for their own learning and the students work could be assessed on a continuous basis through the program. He also advocated then that using the project to serve as a medium to continually assess students would expedite the abolition of the dreaded common entrance.
The In Time project would also benefit the Ministry of Education and teachers. For teachers it would offer them tips and opportunities to make changes and suggestions which could be adopted immediately. From the Ministry of Education standpoint the computerized program will store all pertinent information relevant to students in its data base.
Quite apart from the IT component, the In Time project would also facilitate learning through IE TV channel on LIME Channel 32.
“As someone said there have been stumbling blocks, but we are hoping that finally the program will be launched in every school and that it will become the success that it should be,” Arsene James who was Minister of Education back then said. However the stumbling blocks to the program came quickly, from within.
What was deemed by some as personality issues between the former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Rufina Frederick and Michael Walker almost derailed the project, for good. Sources back then had informed the STAR that several attempts to have meetings with the PS to discuss the way forward for the “In Time” project for Primary schools had failed.
In an interview with Nicole Mc Donald on TALK, Michael Walker himself spoke of the frustrations of bringing the project to light also saying “I couldn’t talk to the PS, she just would not talk to me. I tried for fourteen months, to get an interview with her and couldn’t, so in the end I went to the Prime Minister.” Former Prime Minister Stephenson King he said immediately signed on to the project after two or three meetings back in 2008-2009. The Taiwanese then came on board and meetings were set up which according to Walker the PS never attended.
The matter was also said to have frustrated the Taiwanese who stepped in with an ultimatum, reportedly pressuring the PM to do something about the PS. Fast forward to December 2011 and with a new administration in place, one of the alleged stumbling blocks to the project Dr Rufina Frederick is replaced with some pressure coming from teachers and the teachers union here.
And so, after all is said and done it was all smiles on Friday with teachers and the ministry of Education accepting the official handing over of the project by Michael Walker and his team, The Taiwanese and LIME.
Terry Finisterre of LIME spoke to the STAR Friday.
“A few years ago we were invited to be a part of the “In Time” project and the project started off with delivering content for teachers. So Walker and his team created the website where they were able to deliver specific lesson plans as per Mathematics and reading as to primary school education building on his strengths as an educator,” Finisterre said.
“However Walker found out not enough teachers and students would have had access to the content because of the low volume of computer penetration in Saint Lucia. So in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Michael Walker we decided to go into the Primary schools with LIME providing internet for Primary schools for free once they have established their computer labs,” he added. Through the program LIME provided 74 schools with internet as well as
Cable TV. “With our Cable TV system we operate and deliver targeted content via our set box. So we are able to target programming aimed at the students. So this we think might be an alternative way at least to get content out,” he says.
And with that Michael Walker was visibly happy Friday that the project will soon begin to benefit the children of Saint Lucia who will see some real changes and enhancement in the learning process come next term and beyond.