The face of social and economic development has been dramatically altered by new information and communication technology. In this regard, the Community Development Department of the Ministry of Social Transformation is on a mission to ensure that no Barbadian is left behind in the information revolution and that each citizen, regardless of age, sex or gender, can make use of the opportunities in its wake.
Similarly, Barbadians of all walks of life intend to be fully prepared. This was most evident from the response to the Community Technology Programme, which had its latest batch of students for 2007 graduating at the Combermere School.
Delivering the feature address at the ceremony, Senator Sandra Husbands, put the importance of the programme and its promise to Barbadians in full perspective. Describing it as a tool for Barbadians to engage the new world while fighting poverty, the featured speaker referred to the 14 resource centres nationwide now participating in the initiative, as well as the commitment of the Community Development Department to include six additional centres.
Citing the example of India and its meteoric rise in development using technology to generate wealth and offer prosperity to a wider cross-section of Indians, Senator Husbands referred to the number of services that could now be offered by locals to a global market, as a result of the convergence between computers, the Internet and global connectivity. Barbadians, she argued, must be equipped to take advantage of the new ways of doing business and let it be known that “Barbados is open, fully equipped and connected for business”.
In addition to the Community Technology Programme, she revealed that Government had a wide-ranging strategy for allowing everyone in Barbados the chance to be competitive in the new information and services environment. This, she indicated, included the Edutech Programme, the Small Business Development Programme; a loans programme, tax relief for the purchase of computers, and telecommunication liberalisation.
So, how successful has the programme been? In very pointed remarks, the newly appointed Chief Community Development Officer, Sandra Greenidge, stated that by August some 2,000 students would have graduated from the programme for the year 2007, and almost 10,000 since its inception in 2002.
It, Ms. Greenidge noted, encouraged individuals to step up to the challenge of the 21st century and “steadfastly make their way towards our national objective of a developed, but also fair and equitable society by the year 2025”.
Indeed, in this regard, the comments of graduates were indicative.
Graduate, Clyde Cox, while expressing the participants’ gratitude for opportunities presented by the programme, urged the organisers to consider charging a small fee for the training. This, he reasoned, could assist the Department to take the programme even further, with more advanced modules.
In his opinion, private concerns charge heavily for such training and a nominal fee would be appropriate. He informed the gathering that he had been able to take his training further and was pursuing a more advanced course privately.
Persons graduating during the ceremony at Combermere hailed from the Grazettes, Bush Hall and Deacon’s Resource Centres.
The Community Technology Programme was introduced in response to the rapidly growing pace of technological advancement worldwide. It was suspended in 2005 for an evaluation to be undertaken and resumed in August 2006.