Just in time for the resumption of classes, the GraceKennedy (GK) Group has donated 213 internet-enabled devices for online learning to Jamaican tertiary students through its GK Cares Tools for Schools initiative. The donation, which includes tablets and laptops valued at over $5 million, was marked at a virtual handover ceremony on January 21 hosted by the Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation.
This is GK’s second donation of devices under its GK Cares Tools for Schools initiative. In September last year, GK donated over 200 laptops and tablets valued at over $5 million to teachers and students of Jamaican early childhood institutions, primary and secondary schools, and homework centres.
Speaking at the virtual handover ceremony, GK Group CEO Don Wehby, said, “I strongly believe that education is a right and not a privilege, and I am fortunate enough to lead a Company that supports this view. During the pandemic, guaranteeing the right to education has translated to GK taking steps to improve access to technology for online learning for those who need it by donating these devices. Since our first donation last year, it has made me so happy to hear the sincere messages of thanks coming from the schools who benefitted, all saying how much the donation has helped bridge the digital divide among their students.”
Those to benefit from the most recent GK Cares Tools for Schools donation of tablets and laptops are students attending tertiary institutions located across the island, as well as participants in several online training programmes being coordinated by the Council of Community Colleges, Youth Education Association and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)/ Inter-Agency Network Youth Development Programme (IANYDP).
During the virtual handover ceremony, Sujae Boswell, President of the UWI Mona Student Guild commented, “I am saying thank you on behalf of the 19,000 [UWI] students, and even though 19,000 students may not all benefit from [this donation], to know that GK cares for us, it is magnificent. Through this initiative, you have created lifelong GraceKennedy ambassadors in our students, without even knowing.”
Kahlil Hutchinson, President of the Utech Student Union also expressed his appreciation to GraceKennedy “I must express my gratitude for this donation, because although online learning has been a simple transition for some, it has been really difficult for others. Some persons only have one phone in their family, and even if there are devices available, in many communities the internet connection is not there. So, this donation will go a far way, but there of course is still much more to do.”
Chad Rattray, President of Jamaica Millennium Vision for Youth also stated, “I speak on behalf of all the students that have benefitted by reiterating our appreciation. As a youth representative I know all too well the circumstances that many [students] are up against [and so] anywhere I go I say, support Grace, because Grace is supporting Jamaica.”
The second GK Cares Tools for Schools donation builds on GK’s ongoing support of Jamaican tertiary students, which in the 2020/2021 academic year has also included the awarding of scholarships valued at over J$36 million to over 230 tertiary students by the GK Foundation and Grace & Staff Community Development Foundation. The GK Foundation also continues to operate the GK Campus Connect Food Bank at the University of the West Indies, the University of Technology Jamaica (UTech), the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) and the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA) campuses, which since its launch in 2019 has provided food packages valued at over J$7.5 million to hundreds of tertiary students in need.
“We look forward to deepening our relationship with schools across Jamaica, as GraceKennedy continues to provide much needed support to teachers and students in need. It is through the power of partnerships that we can achieve great things, not only for ourselves, but for our communities and our nation. I am proud of all that we have been able to accomplish through GK Cares especially during this pandemic, and I also remain committed to ensuring that GK continues to support those in need in 2021.” said Wehby