President of Penal Sports Foundation Neil Guevara presents Principal of St Dominic’s Penal RC Dunbar-Sobers, centre, with Ipads during the handing over ceremony yesterday. Also in the pcture are Dr. Roydon Rampersad School Supervisor, left, and Phillip Fraser past student, right, and Minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian, second right, at the Penal Community Centre.

Months into COVID-19 pandemic in T&T, Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly pleaded with citizens to sponsor laptops and tablets to 65,000 students who could not afford devices for online school, which was the new normal in the education sector.

Now five months later, Minister in the Ministry of Education Lisa Morris-Julian describes the response by citizens as phenomenal, saying that the number is significantly decreasing.

At the beginning of 2021, The Ministry of Education revealed that 30,000 students were still without devices.

Yesterday, the St Dominic’s RC Primary School got a boost for its needy pupils as the Penal Sports Foundation presented 50 tablets to outgoing principal Sherma Sobers at the Penal Community Centre.

Morris-Julian said every week, someone approaches the Ministry of Education, offering to sponsor devices for students.

She said that in her community, there were over 100 distributions from individual citizens. Despite her belief that citizens would not want to donate, she said the best of T&T is showing during an adverse time.

“The corporate citizens of Trinidad & Tobago, their response has been phenomenal. The Minister and myself, we are extremely impressed. Every week, practically every day at one point, they step forward to give generously to various communities. But I am also impressed with individuals. For example, in my community, a grandmother, 88- years-old, took part of her pension money to donate one tablet,” Morris-Julian said.

In the 2020/21 budget, the government allocated $50 million to purchase laptops for needy students.

Morris-Julian said those will arrive soon.

She said the schools would carry out the means test to determine which students require devices.

Penal Sports Foundation president Neil Guevara said many of his members were past pupils of St Dominic’s RC and saw the opportunity to help.

Guevara said another member came up with the idea and the Foundation began contacting members and past pupils locally and in the United States and England.

The school has a population of 242 pupils and required 135 devices. Although the Foundation delivered 50 yesterday, 20 are on the way, and they will work to get the rest for the pupils.

From yesterday’s presentation, pupils will receive Amazon Fire 7 with Alexa, We Cool and Samsung Tabs.