Dinthill’s Fibre-optic Network Backbone Technology Project Launch

LINSTEAD, St Catherine — Digicel Foundation, under its Build Jamaica Grant Programme, has partnered with Dinthill Technical High School (DTHS) in Linstead, St Catherine, for the upgrade of the school’s ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure with wide-scale installation of fibre-optic cable intranet technology.

The upgrade, which will be completed within the next month in order to better facilitate classes for students who cannot access Internet at home, has been funded to the tune of $5 million.

With online learning now becoming a standard learning modality for many students, school Principal Anthony Garwood said the full digitisation of the huge Dinthill campus will further the school’s goal in reaching more students, both online and in the classroom.

“This infrastructural backbone will give us a push in online teaching and learning, which is a modality we are moving forward with as a school. This infrastructure will allow us to teach up to 20 students face to face at the school, while another 20 students can join at home.

“Our students will also now have access to a platform via an app that will allow them to learn offline. Once they come back in the space where there is Wi-Fi, then the work that they did at home using the app will be uploaded to that platform where teachers can access it,” said Garwood, who was speaking at a project launch at the school Monday.

At present, said the principal, the school has seen up to 80 per cent engagement with students online, with the grades 11 to 13 cohorts who are preparing to sit their exams coming in for face-to-face classes. The ICT upgrade will allow the school to facilitate the Caribbean Council of Examinations (CXC) online assessments that are now a requirement for some subjects.

“This move is really about giving every student here at Dinthill Technical High School an equal and fair chance [for] an education,” said Garwood.

“It will also assist us with surveillance as well. We have a massive campus, and our farms are our main resources. This will eliminate some of the praedial larceny that we suffer from, [from] time to time,” he added.

Chairman of the school board and former principal, Dennis Clarke said the upgrade is also in line with the Ministry of Education’s thrust towards streamlining science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programmes.

This, he said, will enhance the school’s agriculture programmes, allowing for the automation of the institution’s greenhouses.

“We have now in livestock rearing, orchard and in cash crops, about 61 acres in arable land. In total, we have access to about 70 acres of land. We also have greenhouses that the fibre-optic Wi-Fi technology will allow us automate – things like fertigation.

“It will also allow us to create various management systems, especially with data management. We have to [be] reporting to the Ministry of Education on a daily basis, so now we can have faster interface with the agencies of State – especially in the Ministry of Education,” said Clarke.

This initiative is also being partly funded by the DTHS Alumni Association Jamaica. President of the local chapter, Donovan Betancourt hailed the partnership as a pivotal milestone in the development of the institution and expressed his gratitude to Digicel Foundation for its continued support.

“The Dinthill Technical High School Alumni Association Jamaica continues to partner with the school to ensure the best available opportunity for the students and hope[s] to see Dinthill developed into a full polytechnic institution within the next five to 10 years,” said Betancourt.