THANKS to an initiative by the E-Governance Project under the Office of the Prime Minister, residents living in the remote village of Champagne, Mahaicony, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), for the first time have access to Internet in their community at no cost to them.
The service was established on Friday, and is available at the Champagne Primary and Nursery Schools. Students and other residents of the community can now visit and connect their electronic devices and access the wifi for free.
The remote community has approximately 250 residents which include scores of students, including those attending the University of Guyana. The new service came as a welcome relief to parents of students in the community, who have had to resort to paying for cellphone data in order for their children to keep up with their school work.
“Without the Internet, we had to take plans on the phone, we had to buy the phones for them and then plus buy the Internet, so it was kind of hard financially; so it’s nice now that they could go to the school and get the Internet for free,” housewife Lilawattie Lachhman commented during a telephone interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Monday.
Lacchman has two sons in secondary school and used to spend as much as $22,000 per month on cellphone data for them to be able to access their school work.
The provision of Internet service across the country came into stark focus over the past year due to increased demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to closure of schools.
Schools in Guyana have been physically closed since March 2020 and the majority of students in public schools are currently being taught virtually. Lacchman has a son in Grade Nine at the Bygeval Secondary School, and another son in Grade Seven at the Mahaicony Secondary. The situation of virtual learning has been a strain on the family, as well as the community.
“It was kind of difficult for us, but we try all out to get the Internet for them,” she told the Guyana Chronicle.
Lachhman eventually approached Regional Vice-Chairman Rion Peters, seeking help to remedy the situation. Peters told the Guyana Chronicle that he was happy to facilitate realisation of the service in the community.
“They don’t have telephone lines and so there, so it’s this Internet or they bear [the] cost of data which is expensive. It’s a good feeling when we can play a part in improving people’s life and improving the conditions under which they live and more so, being part of a government that is working to fulfil its mandate of improving the livelihood of every Guyanese,” Peters expressed.
Lachhman is profusely grateful for this new amenity, noting that her children have already begun visiting the school to make full use of it.
“I would like to say thank you to them because now the whole community can get access to the Internet– schoolchildren and adults. So I would just like to thank the government for that,” she said.
The E-Governance Project is administered under the National Data Management Authority (NDMA) and provides free Internet access points at several government buildings and public Internet access points.
To date, there are over 200 free government wifi locations across the country.