Laptop dream becomes a reality for hundreds of Region Nine teachers
GINA, GUYANA, Friday, November 11, 2016
The journey to a new digital era in schools in Region Nine began on Thursday. Hundreds of teachers received laptops to better enhance their students’ educational experience.
A team comprising Fourth Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock; Minister of Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes, and Head E-Governance Agency, Floyd Levi distributed the devices to 460 teachers in the region.
The distribution was done at three locations in the region. The teachers of the North Rupununi received their devices at the Bina Hill Institute in Annai, teachers of Deep South, at the Aishalton Secondary School, and the teachers of Central Rupunnuni, at the St Ignatius Secondary School.
The teachers expressed their gratitude, describing the programme organised by the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, through the E-Government Agency as one that was eagerly awaited.
“Wow! This is a very happy moment for us teachers here in the Deep South. We have been waiting for this for a very long time. We have heard that this new government has in place and we are thankful that today, it is a reality, and I know that in schools, when we go back, we would utilise this equipment to the best of our ability, and I know that it would enhance our teaching and learning process in the classroom. So I am very happy at this moment,” Head teacher of Mora Nursery School, Maureen Aguilera said.
Sixteen-year-old teacher of the Wowetta Nursery School, Jelicia Moses said the device would, “assist me in making teaching aids such as for the days of the week and writing lesson plans.”
But none of the teachers was more appreciative of the initiative, than Head of the Information Technology Department of the St Ignatius Secondary, Abeena Benn. “I would like to give thanks to the authors of this project that have seen it fit to bless all the teachers around this country with wonderful gifts,” Benn said. “As a computer scientist working in the hinterland, I probably got a lot more appreciation for the devices than some of the teachers, because it really pains me when I see that around the Caribbean, technology is being used in every single subject area, and in comparison, in the Rupununi, there is a gross lack of technology, it is sad.”
Benn said that the students in the Rupununi would have been “robbed somewhat because of that lack of technology” and to compound the situation, “they are expected to compete on equal ground with everybody else. So I am happy that the government has chosen to take the initiative to bring this project here to the Rupununi, so that all the people of the Rupununi can also be blessed,” she said.
Satellite Internet access
Minister Hughes explained that the goal of the Ministry goes further than the laptops’ distribution in the region. She said that the ministry is working to create a series of Information Communication (ICT) hubs across the region, where members of the communities, including teachers and students, can go and have internet access and connectivity.
The teachers were also assured that in the first quarter of 2017, the Ministry will be rolling out satellite-based internet access for the provision of better internet connectivity to the larger communities, particularly, those, with a large student population.
“We are starting the road to those improvements, and in fact I have two members including the Director of E-Governance Unit here, checking out the site, the cell towers and looking at what it is we need to do so that we can provide this service in terms of internet and broadband community to these areas,” Minister Hughes said.
Hughes also delivered a special message to the teachers asking that they think of the laptops as not just a tool for use in education, but to think in terms of motivating the students, to the E-Commerce and entrepreneurial activities that connectivity to the rest of the world brings.
“As part of our education and training, we have to get to the stage where we realise that technology gives us each an opportunity to be our own entrepreneur …and so we need to make sure that our students and young people start to think about, how it is, I can sell my services using these technology,” the Minister said.
Similar sentiments were expressed by Minister Allicock, who noted that as government delivers on the laptops’ promise, the expectation is that they use the devices not only to excel, but to bridge the divide that exists between the hinterland and the coastland.
“This is an investment where we are looking for returns,” Minister Allicock said, noting that the laptop could be, “the connection that we need to make this nation one. We have been divided too long; the coast and the hinterland, but we have education, both sides, but we need to share that education, and for that to happen, we have to gear our teachers, with the right tools, the right opportunity, the right training, the space and the facilities, to help us to educate this nation,” the Minister said.
“If we have communication, we would have information, knowledge, and if you have knowledge, knowledge is power, and if used properly, there is nothing that could stop us from realising our dreams,” the Minister said.
He also urged the students of the Hinterland Employment Youth Services (HEYS) to take advantage of the opportunities being availed to provide the teachers with laptops, and the region with better internet connectivity. Minister Allicock also pointed out that there will be need for technicians.
During the visit to the region, Minister Hughes also delivered some laptops for the staff of Radio Paiwomak 97.1 FM and Radio Lethem 95.1FM.
Distribution to end soon
The One Laptop Per Teacher (OLPT) initiative forms part of the larger Improving Digital Equity, Access and Learning (IDEAL) programme
that also includes connectivity to the internet for schools.
The programme was launched in September by President David Granger as the beginning of a process of ICT transformation throughout the education system – a system which embraces over a quarter million Guyanese.
Since the launch of the programme in September, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, through the E-Government Agency has distributed 4244 laptops to teachers in Regions 1, 2, 5, 6 and 7, Levi said.
The distribution exercise moved to Region 8 today, where 200 laptops were handed out. Over the next two weeks, the E-Government Agency will close out the distribution with 3200 of the devices, Levi noted.
By: Macalia Santos