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Jamaica Library Service launches ICT project

Published:Saturday | November 8, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

THE JAMAICA Library Service (JLS) yesterday launched its 'Using Technology to Empower Individuals and Communities for Development' project.

The project will enable the JLS to improve the quantity and quality of information and communication technology (ICT) resources in public libraries across the island.

Yesterday's ceremony to signal the official start of the project was held at the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library auditorium.

The JLS project got started with a US$2-million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Jamaican Government provided US$1.1 million for the initiative.

Paul Lalor, president of the JLS, described it as a transformational project that would use technology to empower individuals and communities in development.

LONG TIME IN MAKING

"Today has been a long time in the making and it has been achieved through the outstanding effort and commitment of the project team. It is a remarkable achievement as Jamaica is the first Caribbean nation to receive such a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation," he said.

"The library is already the largest provider of free access to the Internet so you can imagine when we spend the money that we have been granted along with the sizable contribution from the Government of Jamaica, then there is so much we can do towards developing Jamaica. We believe that this project will allow Jamaicans to play a significant role in achieving the 2030 vision that we have outlined for ourselves," Lalor added.

EMPOWERING INDIVIDUALS

Queenie Ko, education sector manager for Microsoft Jamaica Inc, commented on behalf of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. "Microsoft celebrates whenever there is an opportunity for growth, expanding the knowledge base of citizens in the country in which we operate and of course for any opportunity that allows us to minimise the knowledge gap in the society."

Reverend Ronald Thwaites, education minister, lauded the JLS for embarking on a project that is using technology to empower individuals and communities for development.

"As the single largest provider of free access to computers and the Internet, the JLS is seeking to reposition itself to empower individuals and communities through the provision of improved information and communication technologies. This is intended to impact digital inclusion and education for national development," he said.