ICT not a luxury
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–says President at the launch of ‘One Laptop Per Teacher Initiative

GIVEN their essential role in the field of education, teachers are now mandated to use information technology in the transfer of knowledge to their pupils.“ICT education is mandatory; citizens of the 21st century must be trained in ICT in whatever area. Every child, every teacher must be schooled in computer science and it must be mandatory at this college,” said President David Granger on Wednesday at the Ministries of Public Telecommunications and Education’s launch of the ‘One Laptop Per Teacher Initiative.

The President said ICT should not be seen as a luxury or option, but a necessity.

A trainee teacher of the Cyril Potter College of Education was presented with a laptop on Wednesday by President David Granger as part of Government’s roll-out of its One Laptop Per Teacher Initiative
A trainee teacher of the Cyril Potter College of Education was presented with a laptop on Wednesday by President David Granger as part of Government’s roll-out of its One Laptop Per Teacher Initiative

“Students, teachers, lecturers, the world, has entered the information age.

Information and information technology and innovation are transforming every passage of human existence. ICT is revolutionising education, transforming the manner in which information is assembled… changing the way education is delivered in the classrooms,” he told a packed auditorium of trainee teachers, teachers and students at the Cyril Potter College of Education, Turkeyen.

The President said “any Government that wants an educated population has to have information technology as an obligation and not an option”.

He called on teachers to be adequately prepared for the demands of the information age. The country’s future evolution is dependent in one way or another on teachers working with ICT.

“Teachers are essential to education and I don’t want the students to be ahead of the teachers and you don’t want the students to be left behind; teachers must become familiar with technology, [and the] gathering of information… Teachers must have greater access to ICT and its benefits and that’s why we have the One Laptop Per teacher Initiative,” he added.
The President said his Government is committed to expanding Internet access to all citizens and resolves to work towards every citizen having access to the information super highway.

MOVING FORWARD
Guyana, he said cannot afford to be left behind in a world of ICT.
“I shall continue to work to ensure that every teacher has a laptop… in the hinterland and coastland,” Mr Granger said as he thanked the Chinese Government and Chinese Ambassador, Zhang Limin for supporting the laptop programme. He also lauded the work done by Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes from January to now.

“Teachers must be geared to fulfil their important role in educating the students so that they can enjoy a good life in this great country,” said President Granger.
Minister Cathy Hughes described Guyana’s push to become an ICT efficient country as “exciting times.”

Hughes, who was appointed in January this year to captain the new Ministry, said over the past three weeks, more than 100 educational institutions and organisations have been connected to the Government’s fibre-optic network.
“In one short year we have been able to provide Internet access to five regional development offices, university campuses, 10 technical vocational institutions in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 and they are all connected to the Government network,” she said.

The launch of the Government’s programme was streamed to teachers and students at CPCE, Tain Corentyne. Minister Hughes said the event gives teachers an important tool to work with and is a “vital component of Government’s all-encompassing programme to raise the national level of digital literacy and to improve inter-connectivity and most importantly it is a means to introduce Internet access to our un-served hinterland and interior locations”.

DIRECT BENEFIT
The Public Telecommunications Minister stressed that Guyanese students, teachers, parents, young professionals and entrepreneurs will directly benefit from the roll out of Government’s ICT programme.

“There is no doubt that higher levels of Internet penetration have a direct, positive impact on higher levels of Gross Domestic Product in countries and improves the standard of living of all citizens.”

Minister Hughes said teachers having laptops to perform their duties provides improved opportunities for e-education across the country.

President David Granger interacts with students and teachers in Berbice who were observing the launch of the One Laptop Per Teacher Initiative which was streamed live
President David Granger interacts with students and teachers in Berbice who were observing the launch of the One Laptop Per Teacher Initiative which was streamed live

“…that is, using technology to carry a teacher in a classroom in Georgetown to an Indigenous community via platforms.”

There are additional spin offs, she noted, while showing that the E-government unit of her Ministry, known as the execution arm, began a countrywide programme a few months ago to set up ICT hubs in urban and rural community centres across Guyana.

“We started out in Berbice, as far as Liverpool and Baracara up the Canje Creek; we are setting up community hubs on the East Coast and East Bank of Berbice and Demerara and in the mining town of Linden.”

It is Government’s responsibility to ensure that physical infrastructure such as the fibre-optic connections and the Long Term Evolution Network (LTE) are provided along with equipment and the appropriate housing to store them.

She disclosed that many of the equipment will be stored in community centres and or post offices.

Training will also be provided to citizens to ensure they can take full advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.

“We will be training the community managers of these ICT hubs and very shortly, the first three tech support units will be set up in RDC [Regional Democratic Council] compounds in Anna Regina, Linden and New Amsterdam,” she added.

With much enthusiasm, Minister Hughes told the students, teachers and trainee teachers, that new opportunities and possibilities will be opened along the way.
“We are looking forward to the expansion of this programme that will extend the fibre-optic and LTE networks into inland communities – into new towns like Mabaruma and Mahdia, along existing communities such as Kwakwani and Orealla on the Berbice River and Hog Island on the Essequibo River.”

KEEP UP
She stressed the need for Guyana to “catch up and keep up” so as to reap the benefits of living in the ICT age.

Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of Education Minister, Dr Rupert Roopnaraine, who is currently overseas, Technical Facilitator to the Minister, Vincent Alexander said the One laptop Per Teacher initiative is aimed at improving the country’s education system.

“What in effect we are doing is tooling teachers for improved delivery of education while preparing our students to better receive that education.”
This gesture clearly exemplifies the Government’s commitment to provide a quality education through the use of the latest technology,” he said.

Chinese Ambassador Zhang Limin who also spoke, but through a translator, said he has been following the One Laptop Initiative closely and has been collaborating with the Government of Guyana to ensure that the project is a success.

He said given China’s location to Guyana, he requested of his Government to “increase the amount of spare parts for the computers” provided.

“Education is a very important aspect of national development… it can play a very critical role in the development of our country,” Ambassador Limin said as he praised Guyana’s diplomatic relations with China over the past 44 years.

Also present at the launch was Chief Education Officer (ag) Marcel Hutson. Several of top performers at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations also received laptops.

The One Laptop Per Teacher initiative is the successor to the One Laptop per Family programme and is based on President Granger’s belief that the Government should provide modern tools to ensure citizens, especially young people and children, are competitive on all levels.

Wednesday’s launch coincided with World Teachers’ Day.

 

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