Chief Sec tells Speyside High: Get creative with IdeaHub

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Chief Secretary Farley Augustine on Monday urged Speyside High teachers and students to utilise the new IdeaHub donated by TSTT. – Photo by David Reid

SPEYSIDE High School has created history in becoming the first school in Tobago to receive a state-of-the-art Huawei IdeaHub.

The digital device, which is intended to enhance the teaching and learning experience at the school, is equipped with a large, high-resolution, touch-sensitive screen with built-in 4K cameras and speakers that can be used as a fully interactive smartphone.

TSTT CEO Lisa Agard presented the device to the school’s principal Alson Sylvester during a simple ceremony on Monday.

THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, Deputy Chief Secretary Dr Faith BYisrael, assistant secretary in the Division of Education, Research and Technology Orlando Kerr and Schools Supervisor III Sherry-Ann Rollocks-Hackett were on hand to witness the presentation.

Augustine urged the teachers and students to make full use of the device and take good care of it.

“This is not the cost for a laptop or a simple technological device, which means that you have a responsibility, students and teachers, to take very good care of it,” he said.

“It is an expensive gift given by one of our major companies and so your gratitude must be expressed in the way you take good care of it.”

Augustine told the teachers the IdeaHub must not be placed in a cabinet with all of the school’s trophies.

“You have to use it. This is for you to use, to experiment on, for you to try all sorts of new things. You can be in your classroom on your whiteboard with your YouTube page. You can show actual videos of things. You have a real opportunity to make the lessons come to life for our students.”

He said the teachers and students had an additional responsibility to demonstrate the device’s worthiness to the rest of the island.

Augustine, who taught at the school before entering politics, recalled a time in Speyside when “nothing close to this was thought possible.”

He said, “We are having this in a community that is among the last to receive access to telephones, because for a very long while, well into the 90s we were sharing landlines and you had to pay some money by your neighbour to get a call. People had to take out some encyclopedias on terms because that was the way to get some access.”

Telling the students that they were pioneers among their peers throughout the education sector in Tobago, Augustine urged, “Get creative. The days of chalk and talk are truly over. You are using your fingers now. You have images now. You can deliver the lessons in ways that teachers could not perceive a lesson when we were students. We have a responsibility to do that.”

IdeaHub expert Kenneth Atwell, right, uses a Speyside Secondary student to demonstrate the IdeaHub can be used as blackboard in the classroom, at its unveiling and handing over at Speyside Secondary School on Monday. – Photo by David Reid

Augustine said the school, which has the largest student population in east Tobago, has been improving steadily over the years.

He noted students who once performed poorly in exams were now making their mark in various fields, including law, medicine and business.

Augustine attributed its success to not just teachers and students but the entire community. “It is not surprising to see elderly women and men assisting with a dirt oven in the back of the school or even (helping) in the arts.”

He said the IdeaHub will not only change the lives of the students in the classroom but the life of the entire community.

“I don’t think TSTT understood fully what it did for us in the countryside in Tobago.”

He added the company’s decision to donate the IdeaHub to a rural school is a testament of its desire to provide access for those who would otherwise be disadvantaged.

Augustine also assured that no school on the island will be left out.

“The Tobago House of Assembly intends to invest in ensuring that all schools have the ICT capabilities needed for 21st century delivery of education in our classrooms.”

Sylvester also thanked TSTT for its generous gift and assured it will be fully utilised.