President Donald Ramotar today congratulated the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph (GT&T) Company for their contribution to enhancing the social development of students, as a result of their decision to renovate the Information Computer Technology Laboratory’s Resource Centre at the University of Guyana (UG).
The Government Information Agency (GINA) reported that President Ramotar said that he was pleased that the company took the decision to execute the $20 million project, which will “complement government’s efforts to improve facilities at the University of Guyana”. He said that planned capital works; improvements in the science and technology programmes, and the planned Centre for Bio-Diversity Studies were just some of government’s planned inputs.
Noting that education has become vital and pivotal towards the development of any society, the president said it can be seen in the fact that the world’s most developed countries have the most educated populations. “The most important factor for our development is our human factor and therefore we have to build that human capital, if we are to advance into this century that we are in, and if our economy is to go forward with the speed that it can, and it potentially has”.
Government’s emphasis has always been on the development of the social sector as it benefits most of the population, the president said, adding that he was extremely pleased that Guyana has far-sighted and far-thinking companies, like GT&T, that have recognised this and are also making an investment. He noted that in addition to the university enjoying the benefits of investments, the private sector also enjoys the “enormous benefit from an educated and a more technologically equipped and scientifically oriented workforce. This clearly was recognised by GT&T, and of course it probably signals their intention to expand, and hopefully to more institutions like the University of Guyana”.
President Ramotar called on other private sector companies to follow the move by the telecommunications company, as in doing so they would be reviving a tradition that started with the initial launch of UG’s campus, some 50 years ago, and saw two companies offering scholarships to high performing students.
“I hope this example will become infectious and catches on in the private sector,” and also called on students to use the facilities for the purpose, for which they were intended.
GT&T’s Chief Executive Officer, RK Sharma in his remarks said that education as a tool for economic empowerment and development was most evident, and that the correlation between education and national development has been well established. The project can be seen, the GT&T CEO said, in the context of the company’s relationship with UG whereby over the last 10 years they have partnered and contributed to various aspects of the institution’s progress,
“We were instrumental in the setting up of what was then referred to as the Centre for Information Technology Laboratory. When the facility was opened, we equipped it to the value of G$10 million and also provided, what at that time was deemed to be high speed internet access”. He added that the technical requirements to host UG’s GY domain, were also provided for, as well as the provision of five scholarships, annually in the technology and natural sciences fields.
It was in April of this year that a memorandum of understanding was signed between GT&T and the university, where a commitment was made to provide assistance valued at $3 million over a three- year period, the CEO said.
“This project was formed under that agreement and it entailed the refurbishment of the internet resource centre as we now call it, along with a complete replacement of the 57 computers and provision of additional equipment to enhance the delivery and distribution of the bandwidth. This was done at a cost of approximately $20 million”.
The previous bandwidth of 512 kilobytes has been expanded to 2 megabytes of direct access internet service at a cost of $1.2 million monthly, to the centre, he added.
Thanking GT&T for fulfilling the first what he described as some 20 agreements made by companies, UG’s Vice Chancellor Professor Jacob Opadeyi said that it was the first one that actually bore fruit. The agreement has five elements and the re-commissioning comprised the delivery of three. The other two will see the undertaking of capital works, in agreement with GT&T, to the value of $4.4 million and the provision of a closed user group service package for UG’s administration, in terms of telephone service and other works. The facility will be a boost for students in offering improved access to the internet for research and studies, and teaching will become easier, the professor explained.
“Lectures will become shorter, in fact, lectures will be discussed,” as anything that is on the internet. He added that all the lecturers will have to do is verify that a website is authentic and that will improve how work is delivered, and it will offer a more interactive learning experience. He also made a pitch to the private sector to offer assistance as GT&T did, to UG.
UG’s, ICT Centre was initially opened in 2004 by then President Bharrat Jagdeo, with GT&T contributing to the Resource Centre with 53 Dell computers and other internet ready facilities.