Minister of State for Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (STEM), Hon. Julian Robinson, says that the government is committed to providing Jamaicans with access to computer technology and for them to use it in productive ways to improve their lives and the country’s economy.
"Access puts you in the game. Many of our youngsters (may not) have the aptitude for academic work… (but) may have the aptitude to build applications and to develop solutions, but we have to expose them to the technology,” he stated.
"We have to provide them with an opportunity for them to engage their brains in a different way and if we don’t do it then we are going to have more of the challenges that we have," he added.
He was speaking on Nov. 5 at the annual Jamaica Customer Service Association (JaCSA) Conference at the Wyndham Kingston.
Under the Universal Service Fund, the government has implemented the Community Access Point project to provide high speed internet access to all Jamaicans, especially those in rural communities. Service is being provided at libraries, schools, and post offices across the island.
Mr. Robinson informed that some 85 such facilities have been fitted with computer laboratories, equipped with computers and internet access. He noted that work was also in progress on an additional 57 facilities, with new proposals being formulated for another 123.
To further increase access, the government has built an island-wide broadband network with the assistance of telecommunications firms, Flow and LIME.
“Flow is doing the north section of the country and LIME is doing the south, so that you will have the computer labs connected to high speed internet,” he informed.
“So regardless of where you are, if you are in the hills of Mocho, you can go to a library, log on and spend time on the computer. Hopefully, not just playing on Facebook or Twitter, but doing something productive that can earn you a living,” he said.
The State Minister further argued that access to the internet and computers "democratises education” in the sense that it closes the gap between upper and middle class students, giving more young people access to the tools that are necessary for their success. “It allows those who don’t have the means to have the same information as those who do,” he said.
The JaCSA is hosting its 10th annual service excellence conference under the theme: ‘Power up! Log On: Stay connected to service excellence’, from November 5 to 6.
The conference will include presentations from a number of local and international speakers. These include: Motivational speaker and Lecturer from the United States, Andre Boykin; President and Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Public Service, Kelly Tomlin; Programme Director, Vision 2030 Jamaica, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Richard Lumsden; Chairman, INSPORTS, Don Anderson; and President and Chief Executive Officer, Columbus Communications, Michelle English.