ONE LAPTOP PER TEACHER INITIATIVE LAUNCH
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC TELECOMMUNICATIONS, Guyana,Wednesday October 5, 2016
REMARKS, Minister Catherine Hughes
- Master of Ceremonies – Chief Education Officer, Marcel Hutson
- His Excellency, President David Granger
- Representative of the Minister of Education, Vincent Alexander
- Chinese Ambassador to Guyana, Honorable Zhang Limin
- Officers and administrators across the Education sector who have been working so well with my Ministry of Public Telecommunications and the eGovernment Agency
- Most importantly, our teachers who we honour today and to whom I say a special “thank you”.
This is an exciting time in the movement of ICT in Guyana and I’m proud to remind everyone that in the last three weeks alone, more than 85 educational institutions have been connected to the Government’s fibre optic network. In total, this has happened in less than a year of operation (of the eGovernment Agency).
The institutions recently connected to the government network recently include:
- Five (5) Regional Education Offices
- Both campuses of the University of Guyana – and this morning we have a live connection with the Tain campus in Berbice.
- Ten (10) technical and vocational institutions in regions 2, 3,4, 5 and 6
- All secondary schools from Corentyne to Charity have been connected, providing internet access for the benefit of our teachers and students.
Our ICT connectivity programme is critical to our nation’s development. It lays the foundation upon which we could have placed this very essential ONE LAPTOP PER TEACHER initiative.
Today’s official launch of the One Laptop per Teacher Programme gives to our teachers a very important tool to work with. It is a vital component of government’s all-encompassing programme to raise the national level of digital literacy. Most importantly, it is also the means to introduce internet access to our un-served hinterland and interior locations.
This all-encompassing programme will directly benefit all Guyanese including students, their teachers and parents, young professionals and entrepreneurs.
There is no doubt that higher levels of internet penetration have a positive impact on the national economy. It has already proven to be a major contributor to higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in other developing countries, and it has improved the standard of living of their citizens.
Internet connectivity also brings with it improved opportunities for E-education, i.e. utilising technology to (virtually) transport a teacher in a classroom in Georgetown live to an indigenous community via platforms like Skype. Internet access allows government agencies to provide better health and other social services to citizens.
You see, the eGovernment Unit, currently the execution arm of the Ministry of Public Telecommunications, began a countrywide programme some months ago to set up ICT hubs in urban and rural community centers – in towns and villages. We started out in Berbice as far away as Liverpool and Baracara up the Canje Creek. We are setting up community hubs on the East Coast of Demerara, the East Bank of Berbice, and in the mining town of Linden.
The technicians and engineers are working fast, moving quickly to carry out the mandate that was handed to my Ministry. That mandate is to create a KNOWLEDGE-BASED, ICT-enabled SOCIETY in the shortest possible time. We have to ensure that we provide the physical infrastructure such as fibre optic and long term evolution (LTE) networks; we have to provide the equipment and find appropriate housing, generally in community centers, for the computers and peripherals; and we have to provide education and training so that all of our citizens can take better advantage of the opportunities that await.
We will soon begin to train the managers of these community ICT hubs, and very shortly the first three (3) tech support units will be set up in the RDC compounds at Anna Regina, Linden and New Amsterdam.
The technicians assigned to those units would be the “First Response teams” equipped to fix minor problems and refer the major ones that will emerge along the way.
We are at the beginning of quite an exciting journey. Like everything about Information Communication Technologies, every turn along that road to digital competency opens us up to new possibilities, new ways to ensure that every person in Guyana has access to the worldwide web.
We’re looking forward to the expansion programme that will extend the fibre optic and LTE networks into inland communities, into new towns like Mabaruma and Mahdia, into long existing communities like Kwakwani and Orealla and Hogg Island.
It seems as if most countries of the World have been turned on to the absolute value of an educated citizenry. It was Nelson Mandela who said to his South African citizens that “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”.
For us, education is the gateway to active participation in the development of the Guyana at a pace equal to the fast pace of world development. We have got to catch up, then we have to keep up. We can only keep up when we have the same tools, the same platforms, and the same opportunities.
That is our main objective, and with all things being equal, that is what we will accomplish. However, this will not be achieved without the suppor of all parents and teachers who must encourage our children to stay in school, to move on to higher learning, and to grasp the opportunities that come their way.
I look forward to you all joining me on this exciting journey.
I thank you.
Catherine A. Hughes
5th October, 2016