Minister of National Security, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, says advancement in information and communications technology (ICT) has been levelling the playfield, where the most vulnerable in society are now able to realise their true potential.
Addressing the Accessible Americas V Conference at the Hyatt Ziva Hotel, St. James, on November 30, Dr. Chang said the technological advancement has also been playing a very important role in “underserved communities” worldwide, where unattached youth now have access “to a whole new world”.
“In Jamaica, one of our most vulnerable groups comes in the form of our unattached youth,” Dr. Chang noted.
“These 140,000 young men and women, aged 16 to 26 years, due to a myriad of circumstances, did not have the exposure or opportunity to access those key resources to allow them to contribute to society in a positive way. They are subsequently left vulnerable to negative influences, which often steer them into crime and violence. These persons must be included in our discussions for improving ICT accessibility,” Dr. Chang emphasised.
He noted that the Government is building a digitally inclusive society “where ICT underpins the advancement of every sector of our lives”.
Dr. Chang said the Ministry of Science and Technology, through the work of its agencies, like the Universal Service Fund (USF), and its Technology Advancement Project (TAP), has engaged some 1,000 unattached youth, providing them with the skills to take full advantage of “the fourth industrial revolution”.
“They have received training in digitisation and data collection, and gained work experience, and upon completion, they are certified by the Caribbean Maritime University,” he added.
“They are now empowered to meaningfully contribute to society in a way they would not have before,” the Minister said.
Dr. Chang also noted that through extensive funding, the USF is also bridging the technology divide in the schools, through the Tablets in Schools project, which is executed by the e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited.
“Over 300 community access points and six public Wi-Fi locations have been established, all of which allow members of our society to be technologically enabled,” Dr. Chang added.