Capoey residents welcome 20,000 online scholarships programme

-Minister Sukhai pledges to provide ICT services so they can benefit

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai says the Government’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) initiative will allow residents of Amerindian communities to benefit from the 20,000 online scholarships programme.

Minister Sukhai led an outreach to Capoey, Pomeroon-Supenaam Region on Thursday, where she urged residents to take advantage of the initiative, which is being facilitated through the Guyana Online Academy of Learning (GOAL).

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Pauline Sukhai delivers her address.

Hinterland and rural coastal communities like Capoey have been known to experience challenges with internet connectivity. Therefore, Minister Sukhai said before leaving office, a phased project was initiated by the then PPP/C Government to connect some 200 communities. However, this was discontinued by the former administration, and replaced with a less effective programme.

Minister Sukhai said the Government has returned and will reestablish the project. Since taking office, the PPP/C has made provisions for the establishment of ICT hubs in the various Amerindian communities. It included $1 million for the refurbishing and furnishing of existing facilities and $2 million for the construction of new hubs in communities that do not have.

“Those internet connectivity portals were not strong enough and it cannot serve the purpose of the original project because the original project was intended to be the connectivity to everything; where farmers could use it to connect to markets; where women could use it to empower themselves; where youths could use it to educate themselves; where children use could use it to research their school projects; where teachers and health workers could it to enhance their research,” she said.

This resident engages Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Pauline Sukhai on the GOAL scholarships

Project Manager of the ICT project under the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr. Ronald Harsaywak has been visiting communities to assess the progress of the facilities.

“You have to focus on your priorities. If you can finish your internet house or hub, the facility to house all the equipment, the training area the ports for connecting the lap top so that you can be connected, the project will be rolled out in an earlier and expeditious fashion.

“I want to ensure that the village council takes that as a priority so that we can connect your village adequately and you can have internet connection to do many things, and to enhance your opportunities as a village and opportunities of your villagers,” she said.

So far 50 Community Support Officers have been trained to manage the hubs when they begin operation. Additional training will also be done to promote ICT literacy in the villages.

“If you see the connection between the online scholarship and the need for speed to connect the villages, the village council will see that they have a priority to their people because for us to realise the scholarship opportunities for villages without connectivity, it means the only other option is for you to buy data plan which is an expensive thing.

So the internet connectivity which our Government is going to establish is going to be free,” Minister Sukhai said.

Once the buildings are prepared, batteries and 40,000-watt panels will be installed, along with laptops, printers, security cameras, televisions.

Regional Chairperson, Ms. Vilma da Silva urges the villagers to capitalise on the opportunity to obtain a scholarship

Regional Chairperson, Ms. Vilma da Silva urged persons to take advantage of the opportunity being provided by the scholarships, as it will aid their development.

“When I look at the number of areas in the scholarship programme, there is room for every single person and the only ones that will be left behind is the ones that choose to be left behind,” da Silva said.  “It is indeed a golden opportunity for each and every resident to be able to develop.”

Amerindian youths have lauded the programme and look forward to benefitting from it.

“I think that the GOAL initiative is a very great idea because there are many young people within the community that are at a disadvantage and due to the pandemic, I think this here is a good initiative because we will be exposed with the technology and the online courses.

A section of the gathering

So they will have a better chance in acquiring a qualification or a degree in order to be qualified to be employed,” Mr. Melron Hendricks said.

Ms. Narifa Allicock is also excited about the opportunity. “I think it’s a great initiative that she is bringing it into indigenous communities, it’s reaching us, so many times we are left out of different things, but I must say that I feel happy that she is here to promote GOAL in our community.”

The Minister was also accompanied by Regional Executive Officer, Mr. Devanand Ramdatt.