A new education initiative is seeking to change how Internet users across the Caribbean take advantage of technology.
TechLink, an initiative of the BrightPath Foundation, in partnership with Columbus Communications, kicked off in Grenada with the goal of inspiring more innovative use of technology in the region.
Participants at the inaugural TechLink event in Grenada came away energised with new ideas about how technology can be used in their local communities and businesses.
From students wanting to apply new tech tips and tricks, to building their own gadgets using a low-cost, credit-card sized computer called the Raspberry Pi, youngsters at the Youth-focused segment of the program left calling for more.
Several young participants expressed an interest in learning more about making digital music and creating ebooks and mobile applications.
Small business operators also benefited from the initiative. At a special half-day SmallBiz TechLink session, presenters shared practical insights into how technology can be applied to increasing personal productivity, business efficiency and improving customer service using social media.
One business owner in the service sector said, “I realise I need to adjust some things which I started, such as launching a Facebook page for my business, but not investing properly in sustaining it. I’ve come away with a useful checklist of tips that I can immediately apply to my business and to my personal tech usage.”
Another attendee, a graphic artist, said he learned some new things about announcing and searching for online business which he can apply directly to his work.
Bevil Wooding, architect of the TechLink initiative and Executive Director of BrightPath Foundation said, “Increasing the Caribbean’s digital footprint depends on how well the region builds the technical capacity to create digital content.”
He added: “…It also depends on how well we understand what is at stake. In an age where the Internet is playing such an important role in social and economic development, we have to make the shift from merely being consumers of someone else’s technology to being producers of technology and digital content that is relevant to our needs and our aspirations as Caribbean people.”
According to Wooding, “we need more Caribbean content online whether it’s images, text music, mobile apps or Caribbean products; the Internet is for everyone. It’s time to start a revolution in Caribbean digital content creation!”
He also noted some of the obstacles to taking full advantage of Internet opportunities and highlighted the importance of access to affordable high-speed bandwidth as critical for individual and business users across the region.
Rhea Yaw Ching, corporate vice president of sales and marketing at Columbus says, “This month Columbus launched upgraded speeds in Grenada including its much anticipated 100megs to the home, making Grenada part of an elite group of only five countries in the Caribbean to boast such speeds. Affordable high-speed, Internet access is becoming a reality across the region, and Columbus is leading the way.”
She noted that the partnership with BrightPath is new to the region and slated to accomplish great things for the technology assisted-advancement of Caribbean peoples and also part of Columbus’ wider commitment to investing in the communities it serves.
Yaw Ching says, “Supporting education and local content have always been core pillars in Columbus’ investment in the region. We are pleased to be able to work with BrightPath in pioneering this exciting initiative. The Columbus team is keen to contribute not just as a sponsor, but also as facilitators, sharing our experience in using technology to create a truly Caribbean success story in our own organisation.”
The next TechLink training session is scheduled for November 30 in Grenada.
Over the next year, the initiative will be rolled out in the wider Caribbean, focusing on youth, educators, parents, small business owners and community groups.
For the BrightPath and Columbus teams Grenada is just the start.
According to Wooding, “The TechLink revolution is expected to sweep across the entire region. Our goal is to build both the technical skills and the right mindset needed for the region to take its rightful place in the digital era.”