Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, watches as Alissa Gollop and Donnecia Mayers make use of the computer lab of the newly renovated Gall Hill Resource Centre in St. John yesterday. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Since the start of the Community Technology Programme 15 years ago, approximately 50,000 Barbadians have benefitted from training in Basic and Level II Information Technology.

Minister of Social Care Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, made this disclosure yesterday while addressing a ceremony at which the Gall Hill Community Centre in St. John was renamed the Gall Hill Resource Centre.

Mr. Blackett told his audience that the programme continues to meet the two broad objectives that were set: to increase and improve the technological literacy of community members; and to facilitate the development and transformation of community centres into resource centres.

Given this situation, the Minister said, the Community Technology Programme was started in 2002 out of the need to ensure that “Barbadians from all walks of life had access to technology in an increasingly technological world”.

He noted that over the years, the programme had been expanded across Barbados to include 18 resource centres, six schools and one church – the St. Clements Anglican Church.  He also disclosed that the Ministry was exploring areas in St. Thomas where there is no community centre, to provide training for residents.

Giving an update on the success of the programme to date, Mr. Blackett said in 2009, the programme moved from offering basic training in Information Technology to more “purposeful” training for income generation.

Member of Parliament for St. John, Mara Thompson, cutting the ribbon at the official renaming ceremony of the Gall Hill Resource Centre yesterday while Minister of Social Care, Steve Blackett; Chief Community Development Officer, Patricia Hackett-Codrington; and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Janet Phillips, look on. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

He also mentioned Cabinet’s approval for an additional 15 courses to be added, which are aimed at attracting young school leavers with limited academic qualifications, small business people and entrepreneurs, line workers and members of the public who wanted to improve their skills.

“As we move forward in 2017, the Community Development Department will continue to fulfil its mandate of ensuring that the Barbadian public has access to information communication technologies, as we continue to innovate and expand the Community Technology Programme. We will also continue to rebrand the programme to meet emerging needs and changing trends,” the Social Care Minister stated.

He noted that the refurbished resource centre at Gall Hill would not only provide a wide range of computer courses, but would also be equipped with wired and wireless internet access.

Mr. Blackett urged residents to take care of the facility and to take full advantage of the various programmes to be offered at the centre.

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