JIS News

The first 60 participants in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/Microsoft Information and Communication Technology (ICT) programme in Westmoreland, will be presented with certificates and prizes on October 7.
Funded mainly by the UNDP and Microsoft at a cost of $1.4 million, the training programme was introduced primarily to provide IT training for 240 “at risk” young persons across Westmoreland, to enable them to improve their education, increase their income-generating capacity and enhance their ability to contribute meaningfully to the development of their communities.
The graduation ceremony will be hosted by the Bluefields People’s Community Association (BPCA) in Westmoreland.
The training course lasted for approximately six weeks and the participants were taught basic computer skills, web site designing and other skills.
Co-ordinator of the project, Keith Wedderburn, told JIS News that young persons between 17 and 25 years of age were trained free of cost and are required to give back to the association or their community by volunteering in selected projects.
“These students are not required to pay for their training, what we have done instead, is to encourage them to get involved in volunteer work. We have sold the idea of volunteerism to them and they have welcomed this, and so they were active participants in the recent International Beach Clean-up Day in Bluefields. In another few days another beach clean-up is expected to be carried out in another section of the parish and these students will form the greater percentage of the workforce,” Mr. Wedderburn said.
He pointed out that the programme is expected to end in 2006 but if organizations and businesses from the areas come on board with funding, then the programme could be extended and many more young people would benefit from computer training.
“There is currently a high demand for people who are computer literate to go into the workplace and so these young people would naturally have a head start in terms of other young people their age. We are anticipating that many will be assisted through the project to play their part in the building of their communities and their country,” Mr. Wedderburn told JIS News.