Free online textbook for Jamaica’s CXC students

(Jamaica Observer) E-learning Jamaica Company Limited (e-LJam) has signed a two-year contract with United Kingdom publisher Nelson Thornes for the lease of an e-textbook used in preparation for the Caribbean Secondary Education (CSEC) Geography examinations.

The textbook, Geography for CSEC, which is on the Ministry of Education’s list of recommended texts, will be made available online for students across Jamaica to download free of cost.

This means that thousands of students preparing to sit CSEC Geography in just over two months will be able to acquire the text as of next month.

Chief Executive Officer of e- Learning Jamaica Ltd Avrill Crawford shares a light moment with Peter Williams of Nelson Thornes. Occasion was last Thursday’s signing of a contract to provide the e-textbook Geography for CSEC at the offices of e- LJam. At centre is Robert Philips, education specialist at e-LJam. (Jamaica Observer photo)
Chief Executive Officer of e- Learning Jamaica Ltd Avrill Crawford shares a light moment with Peter Williams of Nelson Thornes. Occasion was last Thursday’s signing of a contract to provide the e-textbook Geography for CSEC at the offices of e- LJam. At centre is Robert Philips, education specialist at e-LJam. (Jamaica Observer photo)

Speaking at the signing last Thursday, Robert Philips, education specialist at e-LJam, described the provision of the e-book as “a phenomenal event for education in Jamaica”.

Philips said an unlimited access licence was signed for the text, which means that “if there are 20,000 students doing geography they can access 20,000 copies of the e-book for use”. These will become part of the various online resources available free of cost on their website at

Philips said, however, that the success of the venture would depend on more students acquiring ICT devices of their own so that they could depend less on computer labs at their schools.

He said training sessions had been arranged for school teachers and systems administrators to enable them to assist students in accessing the e-book.

Tom Cane of Nelson Thornes expressed satisfaction at the signing of the contract, adding that the agreement was to introduce Jamaican students to online books rather than solely a profit-making venture. “It’s really to see how the students will interact with the technology,” he explained. The contract was valued at £7,000, or just over J$1 million. He noted that it was the third contract signed with e-LJam by Nelson Thornes in three years, but “the first fully online textbook for Jamaica and the Caribbean”.

The contract was signed on behalf of e-LJam by CEO Avrill Crawford and Peter Williams, head of Nelson Thornes International.

e-LJam is a government-owned company under the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy, and Mining, which is funded from the Universal Service Fund (USF). It is mandated to oversee the infusion of information and communication technology (ICT) throughout Jamaica through the implementation of a number of projects, the first of which is the High School Project which involves, among other things, the provision of ICT hardware and software as well as the development of digitised educational materials in 11 CSEC subjects to all high schools throughout the island.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Delcidio do Amaral

Brazil corruption probe widens; Senate leader, BTG Pactual CEO arrested SAO PAULO/BRASILIA, (Reuters) – The chief executive of Brazil’s biggest independent investment bank and the leading senator in the governing coalition were arrested yesterday on suspicion of obstructing the country’s most sweeping corruption investigation ever. The detention of such prominent power brokers on orders from the Supreme Court raised the stakes dramatically in a bribery scandal that started with state-run oil company Petrobras and now threatens the heights of Brazilian banking and politics. The arrest of Andre Esteves, the billionaire CEO and controlling shareholder of BTG Pactual SA and Brazil’s most influential dealmaker, sent the bank’s listed shares into a dive that wiped out a fifth of its market value and raised red flags at the central bank. Brazil’s Congress also ground to a halt with the arrest of ruling Workers’ Party Senator Delcidio do Amaral, a veteran lawmaker who has run the economic affairs committee and who has been key to President Dilma Rousseff’s unpopular austerity program. Brazil’s currency fell as much as 2 percent as the scandal threatened both the country’s sixth-largest bank and the president’s sputtering efforts to pass a new budget and avoid another credit ratings downgrade to junk. Brazil’s central bank said it was monitoring the arrest of Esteves to see whether it would impact operations at BTG Pactual and trigger regulatory action. Banking analysts warned that BTG Pactual, the largest independent investment bank in Latin America, could struggle to navigate Brazil’s worst recession in a quarter century without its wunderkind founder at the helm. Clients withdrew funds equivalent to less than 1 percent of assets under management at BTG Pactual, which was less than had initially been expected by some, said a source with knowledge of the bank’s strategy. The six-year-old BTG Pactual, which manages about 230 billion reais ($61 billion), tapped less than 5 percent of its about 40 billion reais in cash reserves to cover those redemptions, said the source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. SHOCKWAVES IN CONGRESS The political gridlock that has obstructed economic policy this year is likely to worsen with the jailing of Amaral, one of about 50 Brazilian politicians under investigation for their alleged roles in a vast kickback scandal at the oil giant known as Petroleo Brasileiro SA. Amaral’s arrest was the first ever for a sitting senator in Brazil and it sent shockwaves through the capital. Congress suspended its sessions as senators met to discuss how to handle the arrest. After a heated debate in which some government supporters defended Amaral, the Senate voted 59-13 to uphold the top court’s decision to order his arrest. Supreme Court Justice Teori Zavascki said he authorized the arrest after prosecutors presented a taped conversation in which Amaral tried to bribe Petrobras’ former international director, Nestor Cervero, out of taking a plea bargain that could implicate the senator and other politicians. Prosecutors alleged that Amaral conspired to help Cervero flee authorities. They also said the senator offered a monthly stipend to the former executive’s family, financed by Esteves, who had obtained a copy of a plea bargain based on Cervero’s testimony. Cervero was received a 12-year sentence in August for corruption and money laundering in connection to bribes paid on two drillship contracts. Another defendant in the case testified that Cervero had passed bribe money to Amaral skimmed from Petrobras’ controversial 2006 purchase of a refinery in Pasadena, Texas. Amaral’s lawyer, Mauricio Silva Leite, dismissed the accusation that his client obstructed the Petrobras investigation, saying it was based on the word of a convict. He also criticized the Supreme Court for ignoring the senator’s immunity as an elected official. SHARES DIVE BTG Pactual confirmed the arrest of its chief executive and said the bank was available to cooperate with the investigation. Esteves’ lawyer, Antonio Carlos de Almeida Castro, told reporters that the banker “certainly” had not acted to obstruct the investigation. The bank’s listed units, a blend of shares in its investment banking and private equity divisions, tumbled as much as 39 percent to an all-time low on the Sao Paulo stock exchange before paring losses to 21 percent. Court representatives said Esteves had been arrested temporarily for five days, with a potential extension of five days. Amaral was arrested for an indefinite period. Esteves, 47, has drawn on powerful connections in politics and global finance to steer BTG Pactual through turbulent times as Brazil’s economy plunged into a sharp recession. BTG Pactual’s major deals with Petrobras have drawn the attention of investigators, including the bank’s stake in Sete Brasil Participacoes SA, a supplier of oil-drilling platforms that has been swept up in the probe. BTG Pactual also bought half of Petrobras’ Africa unit in 2013. Last quarter, credit to oil and gas and infrastructure companies, which are the most impacted industries in the widening graft probe, accounted for about 16 percent of BTG’s loan book. That is the largest exposure among Brazil’s listed traded banks, according to Thomson Reuters data. Brazil’s central bank said in a press statement that it was monitoring the arrest of Esteves, adding that BTG Pactual has solid liquidity indicators and continues to operate normally. The net worth of Esteves was last estimated at $2.2 billion by Forbes Magazine.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.