eGovernment Advisor, Floyd Levi, in an invited comment said that at present, the eGovernment Unit is focused on facilitating the implementation of the infrastructural networks – the transmission and the data networks and the setting up of ICT Hubs across the country.
ICT Hubs and Wi-Fi for Schools
Levi disclosed that that the government was focusing on having the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Hubs and Internet Access Points operational by the end of 2016. The ICT Hubs are especially critical for the Wi-Fi networks to become operational. These are expected to benefit all Guyanese but more so, the remote and under developed communities.
The roll out of Wi-Fi in secondary schools has begun at the President’s College, following a visit by President Granger to the institution in October. Levi said that this is the first project in this category and it will be treated as a pilot to determine the exact needs and requirements for the other schools to benefit.
“What it does is that it gives them access to the eGovernment network, not just for internet access but for all government applications that we will publish on the network. We are using this as the pilot project, to ensure that we are able to fulfill the demands and requirements and then we move on to the other schools. We expect that this can be done within the first quarter of 2016. We have been mandated to provide internet access to all tertiary educational institutes, such as the Cyril Potter College of Education, the University of Guyana (UG), all of the Technical Institutes and Secondary schools,” he said.
Additionally, all government ministries, agencies and public buildings will be outfitted with Wi-Fi networks for visitors and consumers to access during their visits.
The Advisor to the EGovernment Unit assured that usage of the Wi-Fi service is monitored so as to ensure students’ safety and control.
“At President’s College, they have a strict regime. The Wi-Fi comes on at 6:00 am and goes off at 10:00 pm and what we have done is to install a “white list” of sites. This blocks them from visiting sites, which is not approved by the administration or is deemed inappropriate. This is in keeping with international guidelines so there is control.,” he said.
Wi-Fi for Hinterland and Remote Areas
Levi went on to disclose that the Unit was actively pursuing a similar project, this time to service students in the Hinterland and remote areas, who have limited or no access to internet.
To this end, he said that work has already commenced in the Paramakatoi, Region Eight area.
“Some of the subjects that are taught at the CXC levels require that School Based Assessments (SBAs) are submitted online and the students who live here at are a disadvantage with that so we are trying to fix this. The ground work is currently being done and we are working towards getting all elements in place. We have a very ambitious plan for the hinterland and remote areas,” the advisor said.
Support from Microsoft
The advisor several weeks ago had met with regional representatives of the Microsoft and CISCO Corporations to discuss support for the planned Information Communication Technology (ICT) initiatives.
According to him, plans are underway to consolidate internet access and email services for ministries, by way of an agreement, which would soon see email addresses for these agencies being moved to the gov.gy domain. Levi explained that the collaboration between the two organisations was crucial to the overall success of that Unit.
“What has happened since then is that we’ve gotten trial versions so that we can have a clear understanding of what is being offered. We will go for a central hosting of government websites under Microsoft as well as government emailing systems and we will be signing an agreement with them very soon on this,” he disclosed.
One Laptop Per Teacher
The One Laptop Per Teacher (OLPT) project which will replace the One Laptop Per Family is also managed under the eGovernment Unit. Asked on the status of this, Levi said that the first shipment of the laptops, which are being acquired under a grant from the Government of China is currently undergoing several tests to ensure that they are not problematic as was the case with the previous batch which was sent.