In an online ceremony held on 19 November 2020, COL’s President and CEO, Professor Asha Kanwar symbolically handed over 30 Aptus devices and 300 tablets to The Honourable Jeffrey Lloyd, Minister of Education, The Bahamas to help build education resilience in his country. These tools were recently delivered to the education ministry for use by local schools that are still grappling with the devastation caused by hurricane Dorian a year ago.
“In the future, there can be any number of disasters that we might have to face, and we need to build resilient education systems,” noted Professor Kanwar. “We are providing targeted support to the Commonwealth countries, and we work for you.”
Developed by COL, Aptus is a low-cost, off-grid, easy-to-use device that allows learning to continue without the need for grid electricity or Internet access. Thousands of books and videos can be uploaded on the device, and COL has pre-loaded a variety of content that specifically addresses The Bahamas curriculum. A helpdesk has been set up by COL to provide ongoing support.
Professor Kanwar also spoke about current initiatives in The Bahamas, including training mid-career women educators in artificial intelligence, building staff capacity at The Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, and offering MOOCs to teachers and farmers across the country. She invited learners from The Bahamas to join the COL-Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative that offers free access to over 4,000 online courses taught by highly reputed professors and mentors from well recognised universities and institutions around the world.
Honourable Jeffrey Lloyd said: “This is a time when online learning has become a feature of modern education. Technology and virtual engagement will become a part of our existence – whether in employment or social engagements.”
He spoke about the timeliness of COL’s contribution, which will be directed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable students, who have limited access to devices and the Internet, or are in the environments that are not conducive to academic excellence.