JIS News

More senior citizens are getting on the information highway and are being facilitated through a computer-training programme initiated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in partnership with the private sector.
The programme, which was launched in May this year, in St. Ann, St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, St. Catherine, St. James and Kingston and St. Andrew, has a number of senior citizens scurrying to participate. In Kingston alone, 97 are on a waiting list to join classes.
Beverley Hall-Taylor, Director for the National Council for Senior Citizens told JIS News that there was such a growing interest among senior citizens to participate in the programme that the Ministry was seeking additional help from the private sector and willing individuals, to expand the programme to all parishes by May 2004.
“We are hoping that the private sector, other libraries and any institution and school which desire to help us, will do so. We have received much-needed computers from the United States Embassy, National Commercial Bank, and the University Royal Arch Lodge group,” she said.
However, there is a need for more computers because there was a long waiting list, Mrs. Hall-Taylor informed, while noting that, the Jamaica Library Service had been assisting the programme in the aforementioned parishes apart from Kingston, St. Catherine and St. James, which used the Council, Cumberland High School and, the School of Continuing Studies, respectively.
A volunteer group called Action Age of Jamaica, a non-profit organization, who also advocate on behalf of seniors, came onboard to assist in the computer training. “They send someone every Tuesday to assist with classes at the Secretariat, located on West Kings House Road, while on Thursday, the organizer from the Ministry assigned to the programme conducts class,” she explained.
So far, graduations have been held for a batch of students from Portland, St. James and St. Catherine, three batches from St. Mary, and two batches from St. Thomas and St. Ann.
Singling out the programme in St. Ann, Mrs. Hall-Taylor said that it was the only one, which was “inter generational”. At the last graduation in June, 19 were youth and a similar number was elderly.
She also noted that Sandals Dunn’s River in St. Ann was instrumental in the success of the programme.The programme, which offers an introduction to the basics of using computer technology, also teaches seniors how to access the Internet so that they can communicate with their relatives and friends, especially overseas, on a quicker basis.
Currently, there are 22 participants enrolled in the programme in Kingston, the eldest being, 94 years old.

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