Trying to closing digital divide in the Caribbean

Thursday, June 16, 2011 9:39 AM

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ST. GEORGE'S, GRENADA, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15TH, 2011 – The Government of Grenada has accomplished yet another first in its move toward transforming Grenada into a knowledge-based society.

Government, in conjunction with the UNESCO Kinston Cluster Office for the Caribbean, in Jamaica, is hosting the first-ever Information For All Programme (IFAP) conference in the Caribbean.

"We cannot continue to run in analogue mode when the world is digital.

To build an effective knowledge society, we must bridge the digital the divide," Education Minister, Senator Franka Bernadine, said at the opening ceremony of the two-day conference at the Grenadian by Rex Resorts.

The conference focuses on building Caribbean knowledge societies.

One way to achieve this, Sen. Bernadine said, is to reduce the digital divide that limits regional nationals from optimizing their full potential.

It requires allowing them more than having access to technology, and greater effort by educators to alert people to the benefits of technology, the Grenadian Minister said.

"Having technology is just the first step.

When government puts laptops and desktops into the hands of teachers and students, they would have only completed the first part of the process," she said.

"Other barriers will also have to be broken if we have to build knowledge societies.

" It is hoped that the IFAP conference will help to develop a Caribbean action plan with well articulated policies to close the digital divide; aid the regional movement toward knowledge-based societies; and build awareness and understanding of the role IFAP.

IFAP was developed specifically by the executive of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009 to provide a framework for international corporation and partnership in building an information society for all.

IFAP was created "as a concrete response to the growing technological challenges and opportunities of the nineties which ushered in the age of an information societyand widened the digital divide," said Bryan Raloykow of UNESCO's Paris-based headquarters.

Conference participants, who are drawn from throughout the Caribbean, were urged to translate their deliberations into concrete measures.

"Unless ICT for development initiatives are people-centered and explicitly founded on human rights, they run the risk of reinforcing and exacerbating existing problems," said Davidson Hepburn, President of the General Conference of UNESCO.

The IFAP conference, which began on Wednesday, June 15 and ends on the16, is just one of many initiatives undertaken recently by government to help create opportunities for Grenadians to harness the power of Information Communication Technologies.




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