For Hinterland, Remote and Poor Communities (HRPC) having access to internet services is one thing, but knowing how to utilize this technology for the benefit of one’s self and community, is another.
To catapult Guyana into a digital society with internet-savvy citizens who can all benefit from new technologies, calls for the training of its HPRCs, says Minister of Public Telecommunication, Cathy Hughes.
From 2016 to present, the government has already established 78 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) hubs on the coastland and 18 in hinterland areas such as Baramita, Waramadong, Paramakatoi and many more.
“As we go into and we create these ICT Hubs, this year we’re now starting to focus on the training,” said Hughes, who noted that the ministry would facilitate this through the Industry and Innovation Unit.
Fully in support of this training is Chairman of the National Data Management Authority (NDMA), Floyd Levi, who anticipates the bridging of the technological gap between Guyana’s coastland and its hinterland areas. “Many of our residents, because of where they’re living and their economic status, they do not have the capacity to actually consume government services when it goes online,” Levi said.
He further remarked: “Many of our citizens have difficulty filling forms manually…so we do have to implement a special programme to actually teach…to get our citizens up to a level of IT that will allow them to use this government service.”
As such, the NDMA Chairman reports that many of the established hubs in the hinterland have been based in schools with the deliberate intent of beginning the transformation with education. “So you will see us partnering with NCERD [National Centre for Education and Resource Development] to [implement] smart classrooms and there are other initiatives that are identified under the structure,” he stated.
Within the project’s five-year period, the Ministry of Telecommunication plans to develop a course which teaches small business owners and entrepreneurs in the hinterland how to market their businesses on the internet.
This is in addition to Grade Six Assessment questions, CXC questions and an e-library which will all be accessible on the database for school children. “We have a close relationship with the Ministry of Education, which you know, has already created some smart classrooms,” Hughes commented, adding:
“We are networking a series of opportunities to provide training support. It’s through the Ministry of Education, it’s through NCERD, it’s through some private sector companies. ”
A model country for the government, as it relates to country-wide advancements through technology, is Estonia, perhaps the only country in the world where 99 per cent of its public services are available online. Each child, at birth, receives his/her personal identification (ID) number which remains with them for a lifetime, developing a database on their health, education, tax and driver’s licence information, including police records and more; all available necessary authorities through a single ID number.
Minister Hughes says that the country, in its technological transformations, is moving along similar paths to achieving this “smart-Guyana” concept. “That is the vision. That’s where we want to end up, hopefully, in another 15 years’ time,” she projected, adding: “I know its long, but we are confident that in 5 years’ time, you will be able to see the results. In fact, in the next two years, we will be way ahead of where we are now.”