Message by Minister Hughes on World Telecommunications Day 2018
Our world is changing right before our eyes, and I can say that Guyana has progressed to the point where many people are using some form of technology every day.
We maneuver around numerous apps on our cell phones so easily these days; we use the calculator on the phones; read thousands of comments posted online; and we are able to keep up with all breaking news as it happens.
When I say ‘we’ I mean everyone, our bus drivers and street vendors; Insurance Agents and CEOs of big companies; I mean our cricketers and the fearless owners of small ICT businesses.
The Ministry of Public Telecommunications started out in 2016 with a promise to improve connectivity – to bring the internet to you no matter where in Guyana you live, to provide more opportunities for online learning especially for our children, along with providing more government services on line – like your passport and business registrations.
We have made tremendous progress in the two years our Public Telecommunications Ministry has been around, and we are moving steadily towards honoring that commitment to every single citizen of Guyana.
The Education sector is where we have placed the most emphasis. You would recall that one of our first acts as a Ministry was to distribute laptop computers to every qualified teacher in all ten regions. Of course, this is being followed up with computer literacy training for the teachers who are not sufficiently computer literate, especially in the hinterland regions.
In 2016 while we were distributing computers in collaboration with the Education Ministry, we were simultaneouslypreparing to install Wi-fi equipment at almost every secondary school in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10, along with:
- All technical institutes
- The offices of Regional Education Officers
- The RDC offices
- Hospitals, police stations and other public institutions in rural areas
- The University of Guyana’s campuses and student residences
And we have connected all our Ministries and government agencies on to a secure eGovernment network.
More recently we turned our focus on Primary Schools. With some assistance from the private sector, primary schools will also be provided with Wi-fi connections and other internet-ready learning tools.
We are going to give our children every single tool they need to learn and excel at the 4 BIG SISTERS – SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING and MATHEMATICS, better known as STEM.
STEM is the BASIS of the high tech world we live in, the world we work in, do business in, import products from, and teach our children to compete in. STEM is what drives technology, ROBOTS and ARTICIFIAL INTELLIGENCE.
Thursday 17 May is World Telecommunication Day, and this year, the theme developed by the International Telecommunications Union is: “Enabling the positive use of Artificial Intelligence for All”.
So, do you know what ARTICIFIAL INTELLIGENCE IS … what it is used for? It is becoming so common in the developed world that people now refer to it as just “AI”.
Artificial Intelligence is basically a machine or computer system copying and performing some roles of the human brain. These roles may include learning, reasoning, and recognizing and translating different languages. Artificial Intelligence is supposed to assist human beings to do our jobs better.
Guyanese children have shown tremendous interest in this field. They have been building robotic machines to race, and to perform small tasks. Last year they participated in the World Robotics Olympics and placed 10th, competing against the USA and other highly developed countries.
Our young people are also showing great interest in animation and computer gaming. Our children are anxious to master Information Technologies and our job is to ensure that they get the tools they need to learn as fast as they can, and we are receiving invaluable assistance from local NGO’s and the private sector.
MANAGEMENT COMMITTEES OF ICT HUBS
On this World Telecommunication Day, I also wish to acknowledge the strong commitment and selfless work being done by members of the Managing Committees of all 117 Community ICT Hubs in Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo, on the Essequibo Islands of Leguan and Wakenaam, in the Deep South of the Rupununi and even in the Pakaraima Mountain valleys.
These are people who voluntarily give their service to their communities, opening up their ICT hubs every day so students and citizens can access free internet. These volunteers will soon have more work on their hands when we begin to upload several learning apps for students such as the Grade 6 Assessment app produced by STEM Guyana, and we will continue to be their support.
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT WITH ICTs
ICT is the development of Intelligence, both human and artificial. For us in Guyana, development is:
- A green economy
- A Smart capital city and Smart towns
- Inter-connected public services such as the hospitals, the fire, water and electricity services
- Development is e-Learning
- It is the sharing of research and lectures in real-time
We are teaching young girls to write computer programmes; we have taken computer literacy training to children in Vreed-en-Hoop, East and West Ruimveldt, to Linden and along the East Coast of Demerara and Berbice. At the same time, we have joined the Caribbean Telecommunication Union’s (CTU) initiative to promote inter-connected 21st Century Government across the Caribbean.
We are all looking forward to the next 12 months when many other programmes and projects will get underway. We look forward to a better connected Guyana with a highly literate population. And most of all we look forward to your participation and commitment to mastering information technologies.
Minister of Public Telecommunications