COMPUTER LITERACY TRAINING ON THE CARDS FOR WALES RESIDENTS THROUGH NEW COMMUNITY ICT HUB
Progressive development for the community of Wales/Patentia remains on the front burner for the Ministry of Public Telecommunications. During an outreach in the community late in 2017, Minister Catherine Hughes had informed community leaders of the more immediate programmes to re-skill workers for alternative employment. These programmes are varied and they include re-training residents for participation in several ICT-related projects.
High on the agenda is also the establishment of several Community ICT hubs, and recently a new one was commissioned at the Wales Community Center located close to the Patentia Secondary and Primary Schools. Wi–fi equipment had been installed at that Center in 2017 by the eGovernment Project Execution Unit, and students from the two nearby schools have since been able to access the internet utilizing their own laptops, tablets, cell phones, while they waited for the community to convert a part of the community center into an ICT hub.
Several desktop computers had been installed on the premises in 2012 as part of the old Basic Needs Trust project but many had fallen into disrepair.
The eGovernment Unit, now absorbed into the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), went ahead last year and repaired every computer before connecting them to the now year-old Wi-fi internet at the community center. Now the young people and adults have free access to the worldwide web via those refurbished computers, as well as their own devices.
Parmesh Bissoondial, a student of Patentia Secondary said, “The ICT Hub will help me because I have work to do online for my (CSEC School-Based Assessment) SBA, and it will help me gain knowledge. I could also download books so I can study, and get past papers so I can practise for the exams. It will come in very handy”. His fellow student, Shivanie Sukdeo, shared his views. She stated, “By opening this Hub in the Wales Community, it will benefit me as a student, (to) do my SBA, my research, my assignments and many other things, so it is very beneficial and I am happy about it”.
Patentia Secondary’s teacher of Information Technology and Economics, Ms. Raelene Phillips, stated that the best thing for her students is the fact that they have internet connectivity in school and after school at the community center. “They can practise what they learned at school. Exams are just around the corner and they will need as much practice as they can get, and (they can) work at their own pace,” she reiterated. She observed that there are families in the Wales community who may not have easy and free access to the internet at home and now they could just walk over to the Community Center.
Ms. Phillips plans to start her own training programme for adults and senior citizens in the community “to teach them how to use the computer so they can see how the internet can benefit them. We know there are some adults who do not want to use the computer because they do not know how, but we are living in the age of technology so it is important for them to know,” she firmly stated. Her plans fit right in with the MOPT’s long-term itinerary that includes computer literacy (basic and intermediate level) training at community centers.
And social commentator, Francis Carryl, had this to say at the recent commissioning: “I am a resident of this community and I truly welcome the ICT Hub which I believe has the capacity to be a game changer. It can change the lives of citizens if they take full advantage of it. This is the kind of facility that is needed in every society, especially in rural communities where it is more difficult to access certain facilities in this technological world. This is a step in the right direction”.
FREE INTERNET FOR LEGUAN TOO
One day after the Wales commissioning, the 110th completely functional ICT hub was commissioned on the Essequibo River island of Leguan. This is another milestone on the MOPT journey, providing free internet access for Guyanese in every administrative region. Leguan’s hub was commissioned by Minister Cathy Hughes.
Residents of the community, especially the children, were anxious to get on any of the 15 laptop computers that were donated by Government to the Leguan Community Centre. At the end of the brief commissioning ceremony, the children cut the obligatory ribbon with Minister Hughes then rushed to the computers. Very quickly they found the NCERD website with past examination papers, and the online games they know. Minister Hughes went right to work with one senior resident to show him how to locate the right parts for his tractor, and she gave advice about online purchasing and shipping.
“We recognise in today’s world that access to the internet can help every member of the community, especially when it is free”, she said to community members present for the commissioning. She pointed out that business owners, craftsmen/women and even farmers should use the free internet service at the hub to market their products and produce to both local and international markets. “The possibilities are endless … you can connect with friends, family and even business associates through social media”.
Leguan’s Youth, Culture and Sports Officer, Harry Gobin, expressed his community’s gratitude and made a promise to take good care of the computers. He is also the head of the Leguan Hub’s Monitoring Committee.