Octogenarian among 17,321 who received computer training
Civilians participating in one of the many Zara Computer Training courses at the Officers Training Centre
Civilians participating in one of the many Zara Computer Training courses at the Officers Training Centre

THE Guyana Police Force (GPF) Zara Computer Training Centres located in Georgetown, Berbice and Essequibo have trained 17,321 persons in various computer courses over the past seven years, Superintendent Shivpersaud Bacchus said.
Bacchus, who is head of the centres, reported that as of August 2019, some 2,366 persons were trained, noting that the training commences with foundation courses that go straight up to PC repairs, networking and Adobe Photoshop.
The three centres have 35 trainers.

Of the 17,321 persons trained, Superintendent Bacchus said 416 are policemen and policewomen; 124 nurses; 11 Guyana Defence Force (GDF) ranks; 34 Guyana Fire Service ranks; eight City constables; 115 from various government ministries and the remainder civilians.

Superintendent Bacchus said the oldest person who received training in Berbice was a 68-year-old, the oldest in Essequibo was an 87-year-old and in Georgetown, a 78-year-old befitted from the computer training programme.

“We see a lot of eagerness from the communities but we can only train various classes in an eight-hour schedule weekly, two hours per day for each class,” Superintendent Bacchus, who is the officer responsible for the centres, said.

Head of the Zara Computer Training Centres, Superintendent, Shivpersaud Bacchus

Additionally, he said, in Georgetown, a CXC programme is also offered.
Reflecting on how Zara Computer centres became reality,
Superintendent Bacchus said the centres were birthed from a partnership between former Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud, and the Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation in 2012.

The superintendent said the first centre was in Berbice and it was equipped with 30 workstations, server, projector, networking and air-conditioning. The venue, he said, is conducive for all forms of training.

That centre was handed over to the police on June 2, 2012 and 400 persons were trained within the first year of its launch.
Another venue that was identified as in need for a computer centre, he said, was the Richard Faikal Police College on the Essequibo Coast. A centre was also built there and was handed over to the GPF in June 2013.
In understanding the demands for computer training and development, he said the Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation asked where else in the force needed such a facility to train persons and the Officers Training Centre (OTC), Eve Leary was identified as the third venue.

This venue, he said, was handed over in November 2013. The cyber security centre, which was commissioned in 2008, was identified as an office that can be upgraded for the benefit of all policemen at the Felix Austin Police College.
That centre, was rebranded the GPF Zara Cyber Security Centre where much training was done, while internationally-trained policemen handled the cyber security centre.
The Zara initiatives foster a better understanding between the communities and police, whereby civilians would visit the centre to have training done.
The Zara team usually visits Guyana for a one-week period, especially for graduations.
The superintendent explained that with the motto “Education is the Great Equaliser”, the Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation seeks to unlock the potential in every individual by partnering with non-government and government organisations in communities in New York and Guyana.

The foundation, he said strives to diversify its work to include development in education, community programming, technology, and mental health.
Specifically, he said the foundation has focused its time and resources on building and sustaining centres to offer free programmes in Information Technology, after-school tutoring, SAT prep classes, mental health and career development.
The Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation has also provided scholarships, financial aid, and sports equipment to individuals and community-based organisations.


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