Min Hughes committed to transform Guyana in ICT

DPI, GUYANA, Saturday, August 12, 2017

Globalization and innovations in technology have led to an increased use of Information and Communication Technologies(ICTs) in all sectors. One of the many challenges facing developing countries today is that of preparing their societies and governments for globalisation and the information and communication revolution. President David Granger holds the view that education is the vehicle that will take Guyana from poverty to prosperity.

Teachers of Aishalton pose for picture with Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes and Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Sydney Allicock after receiving their laptops in December last year.

Minister Hughes shared her enthusiasm and commitment at being Minister of Public Telecommunication with the Department of Public Information(DPI) on Friday, she is excited to be part of the Ministry because it allows “you to make a difference in people lives immediately. By giving free internet access to a community, a school or an ICT Hub brings smiles to faces, even as it transforms their way of accessing information.

ICT provides governments with an efficient infrastructure. Policy-makers, educationists, non-governmental organizations, academics, businesses and ordinary citizens are increasingly concerned with the need to make their businesses and societies competitive in an emergent information economy.

ICT in education

It is generally believed that ICTs can empower teachers and learners, making significant contributions to learning and achievement. At the same time, ICT adds value to the processes of learning, and in the organisation and management of learning institutions.

Recognizing that ICTs are also transformational tools which when used appropriately, can promote the shift to a learner-centered environment the minister pointed out that,

“Internet access to secondary schools is very important and sometimes people misunderstand how important that is”, Minister Hughes said.

“The Ministry of Public Telecommunications is a very exciting area. There are parts of the sector that I did not have in-depth knowledge on but I have been learning extremely fast. And I have found it to be an exciting area of work”, Minister Hughes noted.

ICTs such as videos, television and multimedia computer software that combine text, sound, and colorful, moving images can be used to provide challenging and authentic content that will engage the student in the learning process. The Minister highlighted that internet access will assist students in completing research for School Based Assessments (SBAs) and allow them to access websites such as YouTube on a particular subject they might studying.

She explained that there are a few schools under the previous administration that had a computer clubs, with a vibrant Alumni Association; however most of the Alumni Associations had to pay for the internet access because the Ministry of Education has not traditionally been able to pay for internet access, hence administrations blocks and some computer labs of high schools in remote areas of the country were without internet access.

However, “We see improving access to internet as giving power to individuals to enhance and develop themselves, so in each high school, the teachers’ room, the administration blocks and the information Technology (IT) lab have

Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes

internet access”, Minister Hughes said.

A total of 95 secondary schools have been connected to the eGovernment Network Minister of Public Telecommunications to date, Minister Hughes disclosed.

Information and communication technology (ICT) has become, within a very short time, one of the basic building blocks of modern society. Many countries now regard understanding ICT and mastering the basic skills and concepts of ICT as part of the core of education, alongside reading, writing and numeracy.

Elaborating on the importance of internet access for teachers, Minister Hughes pointed out that the government, more specifically President David Granger wants to ensure that teachers across the country have access to a computer. Thus far, 8,944 laptops have been distributed to teachers across the country.

The Telecommunications Minister highlighted that every teacher at the Cyril Potter’s College of Education teachers training College) has received a laptop.  She explained that the laptops come pre-programmed with the necessary teaching syllabus and material. “It gives the teacher the resources that will enable them to be a better teacher”, Minister Hughes said.

Additionally, 37 other institutions have been connected to the eGovernment Network; these include the Regional Offices in the 10 Administrative Regions of Guyana, the Guyana School of Agriculture, three Regional Education Officers (REO) branches, three Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE) branches, two University of Guyana (UG) locations, and six technical and vocational institutions with reliable high-speed access to educational content in their computer laboratories.

Guyana must be able to benefit from technological developments. To be able to do so, a cadre of professionals have to be educated with sound ICT backgrounds, independent of specific computer platforms or software environments. Technological developments lead to changes in work and changes in the organisation of work, and required competencies are therefore changing.

The educational effectiveness of ICTs depends on how they are used and for what purpose. Minister Hughes enthusiastically said, “I came to the Ministry of Public Telecommunications to transform Guyana in ICT and I firmly believe that we will do that.”

 

By Gabreila Patram

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