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Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, says the Government is committed to providing the access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) needed to boost productivity.

“It is our vision that every citizen will be equipped with the ICT technical tools and expertise to make improvements in their daily lives, so that the use of the precious resource of time is optimised,” he said.

Mr. Vaz was speaking at a certification ceremony of the ExcelsiorCommunity College’s Centre for ICT Excellence, on Thursday (March 17), at theCourtleigh Auditorium, New Kingston.

He pointed out that, much like the fundamental changes of the industrial revolution, ICT is changing society and the Government wants to effect policies that will increase investment in ICTs, with clear directions for technology adoption and use.

He said the Government’s ICT policy, which will be submitted to Cabinet soon, focuses on widening universal access to embrace the physical components and define Jamaica’s obligation in terms of resource and basic access, so that more opportunities are made available for Information Technology literacy.

Mr. Vaz said the policy also looks at funding facilities for research, innovation and development, as well as developing education and skills capacity, establishing centres of excellence and encouraging the development of knowledge networks and communities of practice.

 He said that, in the meantime, the government is becoming a model user of ICT, offering on-demand services, stimulating public involvement, empowering citizens, minimising social exclusion and creating a knowledge-based society.

He said he was looking to the day when every school, post office, library and community centre will have computers connected to the internet.

“Important strides have already been made, through the e-Learning Project, and the initiatives of the Jamaica Library Service which we will be building on (later) this year,” he said. The e-Learning project is a collaborative effort between the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and Ministry of Education, which targets more than 11,400 teachers and lecturers in 203 learning institutions with ICT skills training.

The Minister said it has been recognised that ICT is a driving force and a great tool for promoting social and economic development, combating poverty and facilitating the integration of developing countries into the global economy.

During the ceremony, 154 persons received certificates under the ICT Capacity Development Project, a strategic partnership between the governments of Jamaica and India.

The ICT programme, which started in 2008, was born out of the need to build local ICT training capacity, targeting both higher-level learners to be certified as trainers as well as at-risk and unattached youth.

 

By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporters