Minister of Education, Ronald Jones (left, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) Board Member, Norma Holder, and Chief Executive Officer of CKLN, Ken Sylvester, listen attentively to a presentation at the workshop. (A. Miller/BGIS)??

Education Minister, Ronald Jones, has told regional educational heads meeting in Barbados over the next two days, that educational systems should be flexible enough to respond to rapid changes, and in his estimation, C@ribnet, a regional knowledge education and research network, could help to achieve this "more efficiently and with greater alacrity."

He made these remarks this morning at the Hilton Barbados, at the inaugural assembly of the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network (CKLN) National Research and Educational Network (NREN) in advance of the launch of C@ribnet, a regional knowledge education and research broadband fiber optic network that will connect the Caribbean to Europe.?? ??The network will be launched in Trinidad and will be coordinated and managed by the CKLN, an inter-governmental agency of the Caribbean Community.????

The Education Minister defined the NREN infrastructure as a tool that could promote collaboration between isolated groups of researchers and foster a stronger research environment. ??"Where some equipment and applications are too costly for single institutions to possess, C@ribNET can facilitate the sharing of such resources more efficiently. Many NRENs are already recognised as pools of independent expertise that are assets to their countries. We can create these assets for the region," Mr. Jones stressed.

The network is being established in response to the knowledge and training needs of the Caribbean labour market.?? In addition, it is expected to address critical regional issues of disaster management and relief, hospitality, business and trade, security, health, culture and information technology.?? However, Mr. Jones cautioned that the network should be launched before long with the prominence it deserved.??

"We want to see the emergence of telemedicine and groups of researchers collaborating to solve practical problems around the region. C@ribNET can deliver… but there is a caveat. The most important part of this initiative will be the next 18 months. If you do not introduce this with a "bang" and clearly demonstrate the value proposition, this project can run the risk of withering on the vine. A critical part of your work is ahead and while Barbados will play its part each country must work hard to make it happen", the Education head noted.

The CKLN project was established in July 2004 with the strategic objective of enhancing the global competitiveness of the Caribbean by upgrading and diversifying the skills, knowledge and human resources in the region through greater collaboration and connectivity. It has been supporting the development of NRENs at the national level and the establishment of the C@ribNET to bridge the global knowledge digital divide.

Also speaking at the meeting was CEO of the CKLN, Ken Sylvester and Professor Andrew Downes as the new Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Planning and Development, who outlined how the University of the West Indies was expecting to utilise the network.??


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