The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services has opened an information community technology (ICT) lab attached to the adult education programme (AEP), located at the programme’s Lifelong Learning Centre at Omardeen Building, Cipero Street San Fernando.
In a release, the ministry said this is the first ever lab of its kind. It said the lab, which will be owned and operated by the government through the ministry, is an initiative being carried out in collaboration with the Digicel Foundation.
Ten desktop computers donated by the foundation will be made available to the 55 people registered for ICT studies in the 2020 edition of the programme. The ministry said the initiative forms part of the Government’s strategy to revitalize the national economy and increase resilience and sustainability among vulnerable populations. The computers cost approximately US$5,000.
Speaking at the opening of the lab, Minister Donna Cox said the exercise is symbolic of the greater good which can come out of alliances between the State and the private sector, especially within this period of unprecedented global developments.
“Within recent months, the world has been experiencing dramatic shifts in our relationships with technology, which of course, come with many positives such as today’s event. Education as you know, is a fundamental tool in the fight against poverty. As such, through this initiative, the Ministry has also gone one step further in reducing the digital divide and creating avenues for decent work, quality education and enhanced standards of living.”
She thanked Digicel Foundation for partnering with the Ministry to ensure that no person is left behind, while empowering TT’s human capital and building a resilient framework for a brighter and more prosperous future.
Permanent Secretary Sheila Seecharan said the initiative is in direct support of the Ministry’s preparations to migrate the AEP’s courses to the UWI, St. Augustine Open Campus’ online platforms. She said this decision will allow for modular studies to be pursued in various subject offerings, resulting in certification by the Open Campus.
Senior government relations and affairs executive at Digicel Foundation Alicia Hospedales said the organisation was happy to partner with the ministry through the foundation’s Extraordinary Projects Impacting Communities (EPIC) programme, particularly during this period when having access to online learning was so important.
National AEP coordinator Rachel Guzman DeVlugt said the computers could not have been awarded at a better time, following the restrictions associated with covid19 and the new approach to online classes. She said the new computers will also assist the AEP to contribute to the fulfilment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all.”
The ministry said the AEP, which was first introduced in the 1940’s, has always played a vital role in the empowerment and transformation of the lives of TT’s most vulnerable, allowing for certifiable improvements in their academic, technical, and vocational knowledge, behaviours and competencies.