Educational Solution Takes Top Prize at CodeFest 2020

A team of five government employees, who designed an educational solution that seeks to ensure reliable connection for students, has emerged the winner of the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) CodeFest 2020 competition, taking the coveted cash prize of $400,000.

The team is comprised of Trevor Brown from the Accountant General’s Department, Erica Virgo and Shellece Bryan from eGovJa, and Chevroy Lindo and Bertland Hope from the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO).

They were adjudged the winners after presenting their solution, called ‘Digitised Connections. Education for Anyone, Anywhere’ during eGovJa’s virtual two-day hackathon held on October 22 and October 23.

Among other things, it seeks to ensure reliable and continuous digital access to educational provisions for students now doing classes remotely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), provide supervision and monitoring, and provide parents with a reliable platform for keeping up with their children’s progress.

Features include online registration of users, such as students, teachers, parents and mentors, and facilitating communication among them; easy access by students to lessons and assignments posted by teachers; enabling teachers to assign tasks to mentors to guide students; and notifications sent to mentors about students’ presence or absence.

There is also a text-to-speech feature and a focus on individualised attention for students with disabilities.

Five teams entered CodeFest 2020 in the categories of: education, agriculture, healthcare, commerce and crime, under the theme ‘Connect…. Code… Implement…. Technological Solutions for National Development’.

The two-day competition, spearheaded by eGovJa’s Innovation Hub Department, was targeted at highly skilled technical government staff with expertise in all aspects of information and communications technology (ICT).

Persons were invited to come up with ideas, which can be further refined, reshaped and modified to provide viable solutions to various challenges.

Chief Executive Officer, eGovJa, Maurice Barnes, said that through Codefest, “we want to provide an environment where our participants can connect, thereby building and/or strengthening the existing relationships within the ICT community across ministries, departments and agencies through collaborative work”.

“It is also an opportunity for them to code, enhancing their skills and knowledge around agile software development, artificial intelligence, data analytics and others. This will provide a professional development opportunity where participants can develop innovative technological solutions that address challenges facing the country, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he pointed out.

“The aim is to implement, extract prototypes of innovative solutions that can be refined to eventually form part of the service offerings in government,” he added.

Barnes commended the winning team and the other competitors. He said that during the pitch session, the judges were introduced to five solid solutions, which have great potential for development.

“The solutions that were shared by the teams collectively, show that the talent pool within government is wide and there is great potential for deeper collaboration to devise solutions that are dynamic and contribute to national development,” he noted.

“At eGovJa, we are committed to encouraging design thinking and partnering with the GOJ community to advance the goal of a digital society,” Mr. Barnes added.

eGovJa is the entity tasked with implementing ICT projects across government.