|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 45 - Monday July 28, 2003
|Internet Access to Rural Schools |
by Dr Emanuel Finn
Today the business of the world is information- and the test of any business, economy or country’s plan hinges on the ability to send, receive and acquire information quickly and efficiently. It is clear that internet communications services provide new opportunities for business, to educate our children and to widen our knowledge of the world and its vast potential.
The caveat is simple: In Dominica, these expanded learning opportunities that the internet provides are available to people in affluent homes and to those who can afford access to the information superhighway. Schools and homes where there are computers and the internet will have children who have access to a faster, wider and up-to-date body of knowledge.
Provide technology access to schools and thrive; hold back technology access to schools and stall.’ This obvious ‘unwritten’ rule presents the possibility of a digital divide with rural school children who do not have computers, and other school children who have access to computers and the internet.
By having internet access, children can have unlimited libraries at their finger tips. They can download information in real time thus increasing the pace of learning. The opportunity of using the internet as part and parcel of the education curriculum today is extraordinary and its implications are far-reaching. The simple fact is that some schools and children will be empowered by technology while others will be left behind.
As I understand the situation in Dominica today, there are no library services to rural schools let alone computers and or internet service. In the early 70 s and late 60 s, during my primary school days at the La Plaine Government School, we had access to a library van which traveled from Roseau twice a month.
The books I checked out and read allowed me to ‘travel and dream’ of distant lands and opportunities far beyond my simple and safe rural surroundings of the lush foothills of the La Plaine mountains, the Sari-Sari and Laronde rivers.
In spite of the fiscal austerity plan which the government has embarked on, it ought to be doing everything in its power to offer a better choice for these rural schools. One suggestion is to work closely and cooperatively with NGOs, foreign nationals, expatriates and industry to offer a new and better choice.
Maybe the dedicated policy makers in the Ministry of Education already have a plan to do just that. If not, this writer would like to work with the Ministry to create, implement and establish a plan that will provide computers to rural schools at a minimal expense to the national treasury and Dominica.
This is about the future of Dominica and our ability to compete and contribute efficiently and effectively to the local, regional and global marketplace today and tomorrow. We need to address these problems and challenges in order to ensure that no rural district or child is left behind. We need to ensure that all Dominican school children are able to benefit from this high-tech reality. Invariably, we need to ensure that Dominica is not left behind.
Over the last few years, the internet has revolutionized the ways in which the world does business, communicate, teach and reach their students. The internet has tremendous potential for providing rural residents the ability to participate in the world like never before.
I am excited at the prospects the internet holds for educating our young people in the rural areas. Some of us whose formidable years of our education began in rural areas are willing to work with the ‘government of the day’ to ensure that students of these schools have access to the information superhighway, and ultimately the key- access.