Approximately 1,300 persons from communities across the island now have a clearer understanding of the various aspects of Information Technology (IT).
This opportunity came through the Community Development Department’s Community Technology Programme (CTP), which culminated over the weekend with a graduation ceremony at the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, Wildey, St. Michael.
The programme, which began in 2002, was offered at six schools and the island’s 15 Resource Centres. It allowed residents to access internet facilities and provided training in new IT concepts and practices.
During the feature address, Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, described the programme as "an optional extra to formal education [which] contributes to social and cultural enrichment among children, parents and families in urban and rural communities."
The Minister added that there were employment opportunities to be gained through the CTP, and stated that: "This free access to technology and the Internet further allows community members who are unemployed, [and] underemployed to make themselves more marketable locally, regionally and internationally… It also provides opportunities for upward mobility through access to global services and communications and consequently, for wider career and business options for young persons and adults, utilising modern technology."
The Community Development Minister noted that although the primary aim of the CTP was "to further develop the technological literacy of the average Barbadian", there were other benefits to be derived from the initiative.
He said that the Department also intended "to facilitate social cohesion by gradually transforming Community Resource Centres into multifaceted learning centres [and] to promote greater self-reliance as a means to poverty alleviation and to reduce dependency on welfare grants and other state provisions."
According to Minister Blackett, there are plans to expand the programme to facilitate online, distance and remote learning within lower income communities. He said that this development would "fill gaps created where youth of lower income communities were, for a variety of reasons, unable to maximise benefits offered in IT during their formal school attendance."
To date, over 20,000 individuals have graduated from the CTP’s Basic IT course and approximately 5,000 persons from the Level II IT course.