Fifty NGO Websites – A Great Youth Initiative

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Labour Minister, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo and Web Developer for the 50 bb Websites, Shakir Belle examining the work of students during a recent tour of the training lab at the Ministry of Education. (Photograph courtesy of Jaron Griffith)

Labour Minister, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo and Web Developer for the 50 bb Websites, Shakir Belle examining the work of students during a recent tour of the training lab at the Ministry of Education. (Photograph courtesy of Jaron Griffith)

Efforts by students of the Barbados Community College (BCC) to construct 50 websites for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have been praised by Labour Minister, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo.

The 29 students, who are busy developing what is known as the 50 bb Websites project, were commended as the Minister toured the training lab set up for them at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education, Elsie Payne Complex, Constitution Road, St. Michael.

Explaining that the bb stood for Best Barbados, Senator Byer Suckoo said the initiative was about “bringing out the best in Barbados”, as well as “bringing out our innovation”.

And, she stressed: “This website is part of yet another initiative that Barbadians are getting on to for our 50th anniversary of Independence. We have been seeing for the whole year all kinds of activities that people want to start, initiatives that they want to link to our 50th anniversary of Independence.

“And, this one I think is very useful in that it is engaging our young people. It is giving them experience; it is giving them the skills that you would really like to see more young people have, as we go forward – part of what we are doing in the Ministry of Labour.”

Dr. Byer Suckoo noted that the project was being undertaken under the Ministry of Labour and aligned with the Skills for the Future Program, as well as a number of initiatives being led by the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.

She added: “This is important to us because we are focusing, in the main, on innovation, especially in young people. We have been saying all round that we want to see more innovation and innovative ideas. We know that Barbadians have the skills and the ability.

“We’ve got the education but we want to see more innovative ideas, and I think a project such as this…is something they can still do on the side, something to create extra wealth [and] other opportunities.” Another good feature of the project, which the Minister said it afforded students, was the opportunity to work closely with the NGOs and understand what the NGOs were doing.

Adding that for many of the students she interacted with, it was an eye- opening experience, the Labour Minister said: “Some are working with the disabled; someone is working on a pro-life website; one on an environmental website and they are understanding things about Barbados that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to do as well. So it is a wonderful opportunity for our young people.”

She lauded the BCC, other public and private sector organisations and others who contributed in kind, and said she hoped to see more involvement from private citizens, NGOs, and the commercial sector in assisting young people and the country.

The 50 NGO websites are expected to be up and running by the end of July, and the students too are expected to continue supporting the websites before giving the NGOs full reign. This is because NGOs may not have the capacity to deal with the sites themselves.

Five of the BCC students are from the graphic design programme and are working alongside their counterparts in the web development programme to ensure the sites are attractive and appealing for the persons who will frequent the pages.

Assistant Project Manager and Web Developer for the 50 bb Websites, Shakir Belle, also lauded the students, describing their work thus far as “excellent”, considering it was their first time building websites with the Word Press framework. One of his protégées, Shatonya Hunte, a web developer student, said it was a great experience which helped her to understanding the working world.

“I am looking towards owning my own business, and if anything this would help out with surveillance cameras, security, and plus I can design my own website without having to pay anyone for that. So, it is a win-win situation for me,” she surmised.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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