Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Internet access boost for Parade Gardens

Published:Friday | October 2, 2020 | 12:10 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters (second right) looks on as students activate tablets in at Fleet Street, Parade Gardens, in downtown Kingston on Thursday. Others in the photo are (from left) Paula Smith; Jillian Murray, marketing and resource mana
Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters (second right) looks on as students activate tablets in at Fleet Street, Parade Gardens, in downtown Kingston on Thursday. Others in the photo are (from left) Paula Smith; Jillian Murray, marketing and resource manager of t-Tech Ltd; and Kingston Mayor Donovan Williams. The high commission handed over tablets provided through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives to community beneficiaries in Parade Gardens.

When classes resume at 38 Fleet Street in downtown Kingston on Monday, the students will be equipped with Wi-Fi-enabled tablets to augment lessons courtesy of the Canadian High Commission.

Paula Smith, principal of Aunty Paula’s Reading and Learning Centre in Parade Gardens, is excited about the fillip provided to her school through its linkage with City Life Ministries, which has committed to expanding homeschool clusters to two other inner-city communities: Tivoli Gardens and Waterhouse.

Prior to the engagement with City Life, Smith was struggling to adequately fund up to 30 students aged four to 16.

Smith is excited about the provision of data and Wi-Fi access, which is being facilitated by information service provider t-Tech Limited for the duration of the project, and anticipates that this will prove to be a game-changer.

“Internet access, which will allow them to sit in class and do their homework and research, will really make a big difference,” the proud principal told The Gleaner.

The absence of Internet service in the community has been a setback for the residents, but this temporary solution has really lifted the aspirations for her students.

“Where information is concerned, the tablet will make a whole lot of difference for them because we are in the technology age, and we have, as well ,our blackboard just the same,” Smith shared.

School runs from Monday to Friday, with classes held outdoors.

The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), which provided CDN$25,000 worth of funding to the project, has been involved in supporting small-scale, high-impact projects in developing countries, usually with a focus on education, health, peace and security, gender issues, and climate change, which are usually linked to small, local community organisations.

Canadian High Commissioner Laurie Peters said that this year’s focus was shifted to proposals that demonstrated how the CFLI could help combat the impact of COVID-19.

“We got dozens and dozens of applicants, which demonstrates, unfortunately, not only the needs, but also the creativity and innovation of these organisations to be able to pivot very quickly,” Peters told The Gleaner.

Peters expressed pleasure at being on hand to interact with the beneficiaries and witness the impact of the investment, explaining that the Canada Fund was very flexible.

“Although the funds come from Ottawa, but it is up to the high commissioner and the team here to decide which local organisations benefit,” the ambassador said.

Political counsellor at the Canadian High Commission, Kevin Gilhooly, said that funding is usually designed to suit local needs for short-term projects, which often have a huge impact.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com