PUBLIC Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes believes Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is vital to unlock the potential of young Guyanese and government must develop the country’s technology sector.
Hughes made these remarks in a message on the occasion of World Telecommunications and Information Society Day being observed today.
“Our young people are… showing great interest in animation and computer gaming. Our children are anxious to master information technologies and our job is to ensure that they get the tools they need to learn as fast as they can, and we are receiving invaluable assistance from local NGOs and the private sector,” she said.
She noted that more recently her ministry turned its focus on primary schools and added that with some assistance from the private sector, primary schools will also be provided with Wi-fi connections and other Internet-ready learning tools.
“We are going to give our children every single tool they need to learn and excel at the four big sisters – science, technology, engineering and mathematics, better known as STEM — the basis of the high tech world we live in, the world we work in, do business in, import products from, and teach our children to compete in. STEM is what drives technology, robots and artificial intelligence,” said Minister Hughes.
The minister acknowledged the “strong commitment and selfless work being done” by members of the Managing Committees of all 117 Community ICT Hubs in Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo, on the Essequibo Islands of Leguan and Wakenaam, in the Deep South of the Rupununi and even in the Pakaraima Mountain valleys.
“These are people who voluntarily give their service to their communities, opening up their ICT hubs every day so students and citizens can access free Internet. These volunteers will soon have more work on their hands when we begin to upload several learning apps for students such as the Grade Six Assessment app produced by STEM Guyana, and we will continue to be their support,” the minister said.
She noted that ICT is the development of intelligence, both human and artificial. “For us in Guyana, development is a green economy, a smart capital city and smart towns, inter-connected public services such as the hospitals, the fire, water and electricity services, e-Learning and the sharing of research and lectures in real-time,” the minister said.
She added: “We are teaching young girls to write computer programmes; we have taken computer literacy training to children in Vreed-en-Hoop, East and West Ruimveldt, to Linden and along the East Coast of Demerara and Berbice.”
She stated also that Guyana has joined the Caribbean Telecommunication Union’s (CTU) initiative to promote inter-connected 21st Century Government across the Caribbean.
The minister said her ministry started out in 2016 with a promise to improve connectivity and bring the Internet to Guyanese regardless of where in Guyana they live and to provide more opportunities for online learning, especially for children, along with providing more government services online, such as passports and business registrations.
“We have made tremendous progress in the two years our Public Telecommunications Ministry has been around and we are moving steadily towards honouring that commitment to every single citizen of Guyana,” the minister declared.
Hughes said her ministry is looking forward to the next 12 months when many other programmes and projects will get underway.
“We look forward to a better connected Guyana with a highly literate population. And most of all we look forward to your participation and commitment to mastering information technologies,” said Minister Hughes.