Internet Week 2017, hosted by Guyana, ended on a high note last Friday with a Town Hall styled meeting. More than 200 teenaged students from secondary schools in Georgetown, East and West Berbice, Essequibo Coast and islands, Linden, and East and West Demerara converged on the Guyana Pegasus. They joined numerous groups of young ICT entrepreneurs, the winners of the MOPT Codesprint and Hackathon competitions, teachers, University lecturers and students, and participated in spirited discussions on the vagaries, challenges and benefits of Internet networking.
The final day of the week-long event was branded “Youth in ICT Day”. The attendees first heard treatises from Communications Specialist of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), Michelle Garcia. She presented tips and guidelines for protecting and securing online privacies from cyber predators and cyber bullies, and advised them to customize privacy settings including passwords; be very selective with the information and photographs/videos they share; and to save the messages, addresses and other information on the ‘identities’ that attempt to bully or steal their information. The youths were also advised to keep increasing their knowledge of the technologies that drive the Internet.
CTU consultant, Lydia Mosie, in her presentation, reminded the students that their devices – cell phones, tablets and phablets – are also tools for fast research for school assignments, job opportunities, business information and skill development in addition to social networking.
Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes closed Internet Week with an interactive session with the large audience who talked about the availability of the Internet to them in the secondary schools where the NDMA has installed Wifi equipment for their and their teachers’ benefit. They told her about the challenges they encounter there, and at the ICT hubs in their home communities which she has committed to remedying as soon as possible.
Minister Hughes informed them about the commissioning of new ICT hubs this month alone in 2 Fields in Sophia; in North, West and East Ruimveldt; Nabaclis and Melanie Damishana ECD; Bagotville and Supply EBD; and Glasgow and Fyrish Villages in Berbice. She spoke about the emphasis this Government places on Education, particularly on providing our students at all levels with the most modern tools to ensure that they have access to the same information as their peers in the most developed countries of the Caribbean.
Youth in ICT Day was spearheaded by the CTU, the Caribbean’s inter-governmental organisation that supports the development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT). CTU coordinates regional ICT projects and provides technical advice on ICT-enabled developments around the Caribbean.
Internet Week 2017 was the 14th such event organized collaboratively by the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), the Internet Society (ISOC), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the CTU and Guyana’s Ministry of Public Telecommunications that was this year’s host.
MoPT is currently planning its next national event, Hackathon 2017, which like in 2016, is designed to provide technological solutions to existing social and commercial issues in Guyana. Hackathon 2017 will be staged in November, and app developers, graphic designers, coders, researchers and other skills are advised to begin putting their teams together.