Senator the Honourable Donna Cox is given a preview of the platform which will be utilised by students of the Adult Education Programme. (Image courtesy Ministry of Social Development and Family Services)

ANNA-LISA PAUL

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) has set up an Information Communication Technology (ICT) Lab under the Adult Education Programme (AEP).

Owned and operated by government, the initiative was done in collaboration with the Digicel Foundation.

The lab is located at the AEP’s Lifelong Learning Centre, Omardeen Building, Cipero Street, San Fernando.

Through the generous donation by Digicel Foundation, ten desktop computers have been made available to the 55 persons registered for ICT Studies in the 2020 Edition of the AEP.

The lab is part of government’s strategy to revitalize the national economy and increase resilience and sustainability among vulnerable populations.

According to MSDFS Minister, Donna Cox: “The exercise is symbolic of the greater good that can come out of alliances between the State and the private sector, especially within this period of unprecedented global developments.”

She said within recent months, the world has been experiencing dramatic shifts in relationships with technology and because, “Education as you know, is a fundamental tool in the fight against poverty.”

“Through this initiative, the Ministry has also gone one step further in reducing the digital divide and creating avenues for decent work, quality education and enhanced standards of living,” Minister Cox said.

Cox thanked Digicel Foundation for partnering with the ministry to ensure that no person is left behind, as they seek to empower human capital and build a resilient framework for a brighter and more prosperous future.

MSDFS’s Permanent Secretary Sheila Seecharan said the initiative was in support of the ministry’s preparations to migrate the AEP’s courses to the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Open Campus’ online platforms.

She said this decision will allow for modular studies to be pursued in various subject offerings, resulting in certification by the UWIOC.

Senior Government Relations and Affairs Executive at the Digicel Foundation, Alicia Hospedales, said they were happy to partner with the Ministry, particularly during this period when having access to online learning was so important.

The overall cost for the ten computers was estimated at around US $5,000.

National AEP Coordinator, Rachel Guzman DeVlugt, said following the restrictions associated with COVID-19 and the new approach to online classes, the computers could not have come a better time.

She assured they would also assist the AEP to contribute to the fulfilment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #4, to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all”.

The AEP was first introduced in the 1940s, and has played a vital role in the empowerment and transformation of the lives of T&T’s most vulnerable, allowing for certifiable improvements in their academic, as well as technical and vocational knowledge, behaviours and competencies.