The Universal Service Fund (USF), under its Community Access Point initiative, commissioned computer labs at the Goodwill Primary and Infant School, and Montego Bay Boys and Girls Club, in St. James, on Monday, February 15.
The labs are equipped with desktop computers, chairs, desks, air-conditioning (AC) units and Internet connectivity to increase access for students and the wider community.
Similar computer labs are to be launched at Barracks Road Primary and Flanker Primary and Junior High in the parish. The projects will attract an overall cost of approximately $34 million.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony at Goodwill Primary, USF’s Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Dawes, said the agency is committed to its mandate set by the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology to provide Internet access in underserved communities across the country.
“The computers belong to the people of the community. We can only make them better off and richer if we give them the tools they need to work with,” Mr. Dawes indicated.
“We know what a critical tool this Internet can be in helping individuals to achieve success, especially with this distance education and remote working. So, it is meant for increased productivity,” he added.
Mr. Dawes pointed out that the USF has, so far, provided more than 350 similar facilities throughout Jamaica.
He said Community Access Points (CAPs) are coming to more St. James communities in short order. Among the areas are Anchovy, Cambridge, Maroon Town, Barrett Town, Somerton and Content.
In the meantime, Principal of Goodwill Primary and Infant School, Camille Hoarde, lauded the USF on the initiative, noting that the lab will serve the 152 enrolled students.
She outlined that the world is advancing technologically, and as such, students need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to cope.
“It is said good things come to those who wait [and] here we are with a fully furnished computer lab. Saying we are overjoyed is an understatement, as words cannot explain the level of gratitude that is being felt right now,” Ms. Hoarde said.
Chairman of the Montego Bay Boys and Girls Club, Carl Matthews, said the lab will be put to good use by its members, which include some 77 children from the various inner-city communities in and around Montego Bay.
“I acknowledge you (USF) on what you are doing. You are simply falling in line with those who value the presence of the Montego Bay Boys and Girls Club, as there is a need for us to continue to pave the path for the children around this area,” Mr. Matthews indicated.