15 teachers complete course in Information Technology by Shirley Thomas
Guyana Chronicle
October 22, 2003

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FIFTEEN public school teachers yesterday graduated with new, marketable skills in Information Technology (IT) with the potential of helping the Education Ministry to transform the process of education technology countrywide.

The 15 teachers, who were drawn from an initial batch of 30 from Region Ten (Upper Demerara/Berbice) and Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne), have now graduated as Information Technologists under a Guyana Educational Access Programme (GEAP).

The three-year course, which commenced in mid-2000, was conducted over some 900 hours at institutions within the two Regions.

At the graduation ceremony held at the National Centre for Education Resource Development (NCERD), Battery Road, Kingston, yesterday, Director of GEAP, Mr. Gordon Bradley, congratulated the participants. He noted, that while it was a very arduous programme, Information Technology is the focus of much attention throughout the world at this time.

Mr Bradley pointed out that Information Technology is very costly hence the question of sustainability in Guyana becomes crucial.

Teachers of Regions Six and Ten at the GEAP-led Information Technology graduation ceremony held at NCERD yesterday. (Picture by Mike Norville)
In order to ensure the sustainability of IT laboratories in which GEAP has invested more that $55M locally, it is very important to focus on policy, he affirmed. The GEAP Director challenged the Education Ministry to think carefully about ensuring proper maintenance of both the hardware and the software in order to keep the system "up and running".

Said Bradley: "Laboratory setting-up is very costly. The critical issues are logistics, financing, and ensuring machines remain very viable. It's no good having say, 12 computers in a laboratory and eight are not working."

In this regard, Bradley reminded the graduands, whose training included trouble-shooting and maintenance and repairs to computers: "These are the big issues, and persons like you are very critical to the maintenance of the IT labs."

Commenting that such a skill is very marketable and a very attractive area in which to "make money", not only locally, but abroad, Bradley admonished the teachers: "Stay in Information Technology; stay in schools, and support Information Technology as Guyana continues to develop."

Ms. Susanne Dorset, who gave a general overview of the programme, was optimistic that GEAP has made a very wise investment. She gave the assurance that the benefits of the training will be reaped ten fold in the near future.

Meanwhile, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Ganga Persaud, described the training as very rewarding, and one that addresses ways in which the participants can contribute to the growth of technology in Guyana, and the development of the Education sector. He, however, cautioned that it was now left for a mechanism to be put in place to effectively utilise the skills gathered and maximise on the finances spent to provide the three-year period of IT training for the teachers.

Persaud, who hinted that lack of knowledge results in the under utilisation of very useful tools, alluded to situations where, many of the computers made available to schools were used merely as replacements for the old manual typewriters, and sometimes for playing games. He also told of persons, who felt that they were too old to use computers, or who were of the view that the hardware and software were "too expensive to touch".

Such perceptions, he said, must be changed, and he called on the graduands to assist in initiating change by sharing with others, the knowledge they have acquired.

"It is the only way to fast track education in Guyana, and keep up with what's happening in the global village," he said.