Crabwood Creek Online – a “Success Story”

DPI/GINA, GUYANA, Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Internet, World Wide Web, mobile cellphones, digital television, and numerous other new electronic information and communication technologies (ICTs) are opening fresh pathways for transforming the way we live, work, learn, and communicate. The world is rapidly changing through Information Communication Technology (ICT). It informs and shape the modes of communication, and also the processes of our thinking and our creativity.

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes and members of the committee of the Crabwood Creek ICT Hub

More persons are now connected in the world, while services and products can be easily accessed with just the click of a button. Guyana has seen a number of initiatives being implemented to transform the country through ICT.

One such initiative is the ICT Hubs. ICT hubs have provided opportunities for children youths and adults to visit these hubs and access the internet free of charge which enables education, learning and promotes social cohesion.

On a typical afternoon from 16:00hrs to 19:00hours  (four-o clock to seven -o clock), dozens of children youths and adults  use the facility to complete homework, assignments, send emails, browse the internet and communicate with family and friends on social media.

In a first, this ICT Hub is also catering for children with disabilities. At the Crabwood Creek ICT hub children with disabilities (Hearing and speech impaired) visit the hub to access ‘YouTube’ and view videos so that they can learn sign language. These will help them to communicate and learn.

Aileene Davidson, a volunteer at the Hub and a resident of Crabwood Creek

Aileene Davidson, volunteers on Tuesday afternoons. She said that about 30 students visit on her watch, who are mostly completing their homework and assignments. However, Davidson gets very excited when she works with the children with disabilities. She told Department of Public Information/Government Information Agency DPI/GINA that she has training and experience in this area, and she enjoys working with children with disabilities to improve their lives and wellbeing.

Additionally, a number of students spoke with DPI/GINA about their use of the ICT Hub.

Annie Budhoo, a student from the Crabwood Creek, Primary School visits the Hub to do her homework, while Kimberly Punwasee enjoys the researching the human anatomy, since she wants to become a Doctor and loves to see pictures of the human body.

Jason Kendel said, “I like coming here because I get to do my homework and also see my friends. I like the drawing program, I like to draw. I also bring my little brother here so that he can learn letters and learn how to know them.”

Sarah Khan, also spoke with us, “I am from the Crabwood Creek Primary School”. I like coming to this hub because you (are) learning. You get to do your homework and also you learn how to type. Also we get to see videos on how to learn to dance songs because we dance at school, (so) the videos we get to see, helps us”.

Recently, Minister of Public Telecommunication, Catherine Hughes visited the centre and expressed a sense of satisfaction and pride on the progress of the ICT Hub in Crabwood Creek. Minister Hughes said, “It is all well and good for the Ministry to put computers in a safe space but the success of the facility depends on how the citizens take advantage of it.” The Minister described the ICT Hub in the village of Crabwood Creek on the Corentyne, East Berbice, Region Six, as a “Success Story.”

Minister Hughes said that it is exciting that the management team of the hub goes beyond the call of duty to manage the hub.  “The way that they motivate the community, of giving back is commendable”. Minister Hughes explained that the community plays an important role in the partnership with the Ministry.

 From Dusty Room to ICT Hub

Students utilising the computers at the Crabwood Creek ICT Hub

Up to February of this year, a room in the Pavilion of the Crabwood Creek Community Centre ground stored 15 computers in boxes collecting dust and cobwebs. An assessment was done by a team from the eGovernment Unit which saw the immense potential.

Presidential Advisor on eGoverence Floyd Levi immediately decided that the facility could be used to transform the lives of Crabwood Creek residents. The brand-new computers were taken out, dusted off and a fully connected and the internet hub became operational.

Levi said that after the meeting internet access was installed into the facility, which he said was a demonstration that with internet access and the computers which were already there, “things in the community will be changed.”

Levi said, “One of the first successes that we had, was when the internet was installed. A member from the Neighborhood Democratic Council (NDC) connected and made a Whatsapp phone call to one of his family overseas”.

Community input

Additionally, President of the Crabwood Creek ICT Hub, George Baijnauth says that he is proud of the progress of the hub. He noted that in February of this year, “nothing was properly set up”. Baijnauth said that in the said month he received a donation of $75,000 to fix the wiring of the facility.

Goemattie Samaroo, a volunteer at the Hub and a resident of Crabwood Creek

He explained to DPI that after the Hub was fully established, the need arose for a printer so that students could print their assignments. He said, “Thankfully I made contact with some of my friends overseas and they donated the printer for the hub”.

The Hub has become so successful that it cannot currently, support the influx of students and other residents accessing ICT services there. However, during a recent Ministerial visit to the hub, a room was identified for expansion.  Presidential Advisor on eGoverence Floyd Levi said that the expansion will take place soon. This, he noted, will further enhance and develop relationships among the residents in the community.

Under the egovernance project the ministry of Public Telecommunications have set up a number of Public Internet Access Points (PIAPs) in many hinterland communities across the regions. This has increased the learning opportunities, and channels through which thousands of individuals will access online resources as part of Government’s aim to reduce the digital divide, and increase digital interaction through eLearning.

By: Gabreila Patram