A two-day workshop, to assist regional educators to impart knowledge to students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, began in Dominica on Wednesday. Primary and secondary school teachers were engaged in the workshop which will enhance their professional development.
The Ministry of Education has collaborated with two regional agencies, the Caribbean Science Foundation and the Caribbean Academy of Sciences, to assist teachers to further develop their teaching skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Hon Minister for Education, Peter Saint Jean says that he believes "the focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics is indeed in line with the ministry's objectives to educate and prepare all students to live productive lives in a complex and ever-changing society."
According to Hon Saint Jean, the education ministry has seen the importance of these workshops, which significantly boosts the ability of teachers to share knowledge and deliver high quality teaching and learning experiences.
Saint Jean illustrated how Government continues to invest in the development of Dominica's youth. "One of the clearest examples of our commitment to this is the recent establishment of the centre of excellence in technology at the Dominica State College. On Friday of this week, 150 students will graduate in an inaugural ceremony at the college after completing courses in various information technology related areas. It means that we are meeting our objective to provide ICT for national development," he said.
The Ministry has also placed emphasis on the administering of Science and Mathematics.
"We are also proud of the recent achievements and initiatives in science and mathematics. In fact, there has been focus on mathematics and science instruction. While it is not really a new phenomenon, the Ministry of Education continues to find creative and innovative ways to improve achievement in these important areas. In fact, support officers within the Ministry of Education hold regular training workshops for teachers in the areas of lesson planning and instruction to ensure all students receive the best opportunities to excel," Hon Saint Jean informed.
Dominica Mobile Application Developers To Participate In Regional Mobile Startup Competition
Four teams of entrepreneurs from Dominica are part of the 26 finalist selected to participate in the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge 3.0 scheduled for June 13th – 17th, in St. Kitts & Nevis.
The finalists were selected from over 200 entries from across CARICOM, seeking partnerships, funding and even buyers for their enterprises, all competitors will pitch to a panel of judges and an audience of regional and global investors. The top 26 Startups for the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge include 4 teams from Dominica, 3 teams from Barbados, 7 teams from Trinidad & Tobago, 7 teams from Jamaica, and one each from Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and St. Lucia.
The main objective of the PitchIT Caribbean Challenge is to identify the top 5 growth oriented mobile startups in the Caribbean and to provide acceleration activity support for them. The 26 regional finalists will participate in a three-day boot camp that will prepare them to pitch in front of judges and investors and participate in an intense one-day pitch competition, for the chance to win a prize package valued at $15,000 USD, which includes $5,000 USD in seed funding, placement in a PitchIT Caribbean mHub business accelerator, all expense-paid trip to an international conference or competitions as well as intense product development and investor readiness training.
The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commissions (NTRC), the Dominica mobile hub for PitchIT Caribbean, has been working with eleven mobile development startups from Dominica, Grenada and Guyana to provide an intense training course designed to get the entrepreneurs mobile application from idea to reality. Participation in this pre-accelerator program was completely free and provided the mobile entrepreneurs with the opportunity to gain startup funding.
The National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) has partnered with the Caribbean Mobile Innovation Project (CMIP) through UWI Consulting in 2016 to host a PitchIT Caribbean mobile hub (mHub) in Dominica. Technology entrepreneurs in Dominica have been able to enter PitchIT Caribbean via the Dominica mHub housed at the NTRC. The entrepreneurs welcomed into the program have been provided with access to a plethora of opportunities including technical, business and project management training, business incubation services, investment readiness boot-camps, mentoring and financial support. Throughout the process, emphasis is placed on real-world business-building, identifying key elements such as target markets and customers. This is the third cycle of the mobile startup pre-accelerator training in Dominica hosted by the NTRC.
Cycle 1 allowed for the NTRC to take one mobile startup company, LinkUp, founded by Daniel Pond and Irus Toussaint to Montego bay Jamaica to participate in the PitchIT Caribbean Startup Challenge. Cycle 2 culminated with the NTRC taking one mobile startup company, BuzzShop (founded by Curwin Breedy and Sade Samuel) to Trinidad and Tobago in December 2016 to participate in the PitchIT Challenge 2.0.
Cycle 3 will culminate with the largest contingent of mobile application entrepreneurs from Dominica participating in the PitchIT Carribean Challenge.
PitchIT Caribbean is a program aimed at enhancing the mobile app development ecosystem across CARICOM. It is designed to accelerate mobile app entrepreneurs through the start-up life cycle, which runs from ideation to pitch, from pitch to market and from market to maturity. It currently supports 4 Hubs, one each in Barbados, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad & Tobago.
BMobile Partners With CANTO To Host ICT Expo
While addressing attendees of the 'North Eastern Secondary Schools ICT Expo' at the UTT O'Meara campus, Dr Joseph Jacob, Manager Student Recruitment, University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), said: "ICT is like seasoning in food because you must have it. ICT plays in every aspect of everything we do in every industry,"
The expo was hosted by CANTO (Caribbean Association of National Telecommunication Organizations) at the UTT O'Meara campus, under the patronage of the Maxie Cuffie, Minister of Public Administration and Communications, and supported by bmobile.
The expo theme, "Demonstrating ICTs as a Viable Career Choice," was geared at stimulating students to consider careers in ICT, and featured several presenters, including representatives from bmobile, UTT, FLOW, NIHERST, iGovTT among others.
Teresa Wankin, CANTO's Secretary General indicated that the expo demonstrated the wide range of programmes and career choices in the field of ICT and made students more aware of the ICT-based industries that could be targeted for their career choices.
"The ICT sector is the most creative and resilient sector for employment. It is also the fastest growing sector and the only sector that combines with all disciplines. As we move toward an ICT-based knowledge society, we are living in exciting times where creativity and innovation provide entirely new ways of working, interacting and building. The future is bright for you. This expo brings you opportunities that no other generation enjoyed."
Guest speaker Petriann Trancoso, a Big Data and Cloud Computing Expert and Database administrator, used online shopping and the impact it was having on the local retail industry to discuss the pervasiveness of ICT in all industry sectors worldwide and the equalising effect of ICT for local businesses. She stated that local companies must compete globally to remain viable and they need ICT to do this.
The feedback from participants showed that the expo was appreciated. Gail Pierre-Ashing, a guidance officer at Brazil Secondary said the expo was quite informative. "This gave the students the opportunity to broaden their perspective beyond the traditional choices and to include ICT as one of their career options. I also enjoyed visiting the booths which presented more in-depth exposure to the topics discussed." One of her Form Three students, Treangelo Gayah, agreed and said, "I want to be a PE teacher and ICT has a lot of relevance in this field so this expo was quite educational."
The Caribbean Association of Network and Telecommunications Operators - CANTO and its partners continue to serve Caribbean Youth by providing a platform dedicated for the advancement of our future Caribbean leaders. The CANTO Code 3.0 activity provides an opportunity for the leading Caribbean software designers, developers, entrepreneurs and innovators to represent their country by working together to develop a pre-identified business solution. This event is designed to engage the Caribbean youth, in stimulating Caribbean tech start-ups to gain exposure, provide expert advice on business development, and participation in the youth exhibition. Teams will be present "Pitch" their final solution to judges at the end of the competition.
The Forum promises to provide a fun, exciting and interactive experience that will not only captivate the minds of the Caribbean youth but also provide excellent networking opportunities. There will also be opportunities for participants to pitch ideas in front of investors and win prizes and giveaways.
Persons interesting in participating should register using the link in the show notes before 15th June.
AirBnB Signs First Tax Agreement In The Caribbean
The government of the US Virgin Islands and Airbnb have confirmed the first tax agreement in the Caribbean, which will allow the platform to collect the territory's 12.5 percent hotel room occupancy tax on behalf of hosts and remit the funds to the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
The agreement will also create a framework to help promote tourism to the US Virgin Islands, highlighting the cultural and historical heritage of this world-class destination.
Airbnb has been investing in partnerships in the region to support a thriving community of homeowners who are renting their spaces and creating new flows of local economic benefits.
Agreements have been signed with several countries and with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to create policy frameworks for this growing hospitality trend of home sharing. This announcement spearheads the company's efforts in the Caribbean to collect and remit lodging taxes on behalf of hosts, allowing hosts to comply and give back to their communities.
The governor of the US Virgin Islands, Kenneth E. Mapp, supported the agreement and noted that locals will increase their participation in the economic benefits of tourism.
"This is good for our Government because it streamlines the collection process and enables more of our residents to participate in the visitor industry. Our hospitality sector will also greatly benefit from the promotional reach of this multi-billion-dollar organization." Mapp said.
The agreement with Airbnb is a component of the Mapp-Potter administration's five-year plan to fully restore economic stability to the USVI government through economic growth, increased revenue collection and better resource management. It will help improve and diversify the tourism industry and create unique experiences for and by the locals of St Croix, St John and St Thomas and their visitors. Airbnb has about 2,000 active listings across the US Virgin Islands and a typical Airbnb host earns US$7,700 a year.
"Airbnb represents a supplemental income, which helps families pay their bills and improve their quality of life. As local hosts bring more tourism to the region, visitors get to know the country from an organic and more authentic point of view, spending in local businesses and services, as well as encouraging others to visit the islands as a result of their positive experience," said Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb's public policy manager for the Caribbean and Central America.
Local authorities also pointed to the importance of the growth and diversification of tourism to the island and the improvement of tax collection for both hosts and government. "This agreement brings to the table a well-resourced partner to help with our efforts to attract people to our islands," observed Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty.
Marvin Pickering, Director of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Internal Revenue, said the additional revenue would be beneficial for the treasury. "This voluntary collection agreement for the hotel room tax provides the bureau with an additional resource to ensure that the tax is collected and remitted in a timely manner. We look forward to pursuing this additional avenue of increasing the tax revenue from Airbnb hosts as they participate in our territory's tax regime by fulfilling their filing and payment obligations."
BVI Urged To Heed Wake Up Call, Prioritize Cyber Security
The firm BDO BVI said the British Virgin Islands (BVI) should use the recent Wannacry malware outbreak as a wake-up call, adding that there is need for the territory to start giving priority to cyber security.
The recent attack was not the first, and BDO thinks is not likely to be the last. "This is another wake-up call for the BVI," said Ryan Geluk, Director in Audit and Technology Risk Services at BDO. "How many [attacks] do we need to finally give priority to cybersecurity?"
According to the company, the malware wannacry that is more than a week old, affected more than 230,000 computers over 150 countries, targeting unpatched Microsoft Windows.
"The malware hit many industries, most notably hospitals in the UK. It holds computers hostage and encrypts files on the affected network that can only be decrypted in exchange for bitcoins – an anonymous cyber currency."
"It infects users using phishing – a practice of sending malicious attachments or links by emails that look genuine or from a trusted source to trick the user into infecting their machine. By opening the attachment or clicking on the link, the ransomware installs on the system and propagates itself to other networks," BDO further said in a media release.
Guy-Paul Dubois, Manager of Technology Risk Services at the company, stated that such attacks have been profitable for cyber criminals, adding that history has been repeating itself.
"The same thing happened with the Conficker malware years ago. Another similar attack may affect us in the near future as it is so profitable for cyber criminals," Dubois said.
BDO added that, so far, "little is known" as to how many users were affected in the BVI by the recent malware. "We urge everyone to keep their systems up-to-date," said Dubois. "The patch from Microsoft has been available since March 2017 and just takes a few minutes to install."
BDO further said Microsoft already released an emergency patch for anyone still using older operating system such as Windows XP, 8 and Windows Server 2003, which are not supported anymore.
Institutions worldwide are finding it hard to keep up with the rapid advances in computer-based technology, and Caribbean Courts are no exception. Judicial Education is urgently needed, according to Belize Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin. Globally, systems of justice are struggling to keep track of the sophisticated, rapidly evolving operations of modern cyber crime.
But one Caribbean nation is tackling the issue head on, providing an interesting pattern for other countries in the region. Belize is taking an important step in responding to cybercrime, by upgrading of the capacity of its judiciary.
"Cybercrime and cyber issues must now have a prominent place in judicial education," said Kenneth Benjamin, Chief Justice of Belize.
In Belize, the legislative framework already supports the admission of evidence electronically. However, no laws are yet on the books to specifically criminalise the growing incidence of Internet-based wrongdoings.
A cybercrime bill is expected to come into force soon, however with that impending legislation, the Chief Justice plans to fast track judicial education, focusing on technology developments generally and cybercrime specifically.
"The introduction of new laws must be accompanied by the development of policy and of regulations guiding the detection, investigation and prosecution of any alleged cyber misdeeds," Benjamin said, adding that only a few judicial officers had already received cybercrime training to date.
OAS Agrees To Support Dominican Republic In Developing National Cyber Security Policy
The Organization of American States (OAS) has agreed to support the Dominican Republic in the development of its National Cyber Security Policy. On Wednesday, the Washington-based hemispheric body signed the agreement with the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications (INDOTEL).
OAS Secretary General, Luis Almagro, said that, since 2015 the organization has been working with the Spanish-speaking Caribbean country to strengthen its cybersecurity capacity.
"It is an honour to be able to sign this Memorandum of Understanding and, in this
way, support the government in creating an open, accessible and secure digital Dominican Republic," he said.
President of INDOTEL, José del Castillo, said that the agreement seeks to protect and facilitate the secure access of all Dominican Republic nationals to information technologies.
"This reaffirmation of the commitment of cooperation with the OAS for us is very significant at a time when our country is promoting a national programme called 'Digital Dominican Republic,' with four pillars that have as macro objective the access of all Dominicans to the technology of the information," he said.
The OAS said that, through the Cyber Security Program of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), it is already supporting the Caribbean country in the establishment of a national cyber incident response team (CSIRT), which is one of the components of the "Digital Dominican Republic."
CICTE has already supported Colombia, Jamaica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Paraguay in developing their national cybersecurity strategies. It is currently collaborating with Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico on similar initiatives.
T&T Citizens To Benefit From Increased Wi-Fi In Public Spaces
Chairman of the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) Gilbert Peterson has said that Trinidad and Tobago is expected to benefit from 45 Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces. He also said the TATT is moving with speed towards the licencing of White Space Devices (WSDs) by September 2017.
Peterson made these comments at Internet of Things (IOT) Smarter Living In The
Caribbean Forum held recently in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
Among those present were the Minister of Public Administration and Communications Maxie Cuffie, International Telecommunications Union Area Representative Cleveland Thomas and Bernadette Lewis, Secretary General Caribbean Telecommunication Union.
The forum's objectives included discussing the role of IOT in relation to converging technologies for building smart sustainable communities with integrated ecosystems. IOT also focused on developmental challenges and the paradigm shift in creating a smart world that facilitates sustainable economic development along with quality lives.
Peterson said: "In June 2008, TATT began the process for universal service towards 100 per cent of the population accessing basic telecommunications and broadcasting services by issuing its first consultative draft document. Not only do we have the relevant regulation, but, we are working to bring Wi-Fi access. The first phase, will see the deployment of free public Wi-Fi hotspots at 45 specific locations throughout T&T. Locations are waiting areas at public hospitals, major transportation hubs, water taxi and ferry docking areas and public libraries."
Peterson added: "In another attempt to connect the unconnected, TATT is moving with speed towards the licencing of White Space Devices (WSDs) by September. We hope WSD technology will help to close the digital divide and provide a medium for more people to benefit from IOTs."
Jamaica To USF To Establish national Public Safety Broadband Network
The Universal Service Fund (USF) is establishing a National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), which will allow government entities to link remotely, thereby improving the efficiency of communication across Government. Chief Executive Officer at the USF, Suzette Buchanan, said that the system will utilise teleconferencing and videoconferencing technologies to provide a uniform communication platform to coordinate activities among ministries, departments and agencies.
She said it will involve the use of government and private-sector owned telecommunication infrastructure to create a single shared communication system to serve public-sector entities.
She noted that the system will save on time and encourage greater efficiency across Government. "If, for example, the prime minister wants to meet with Cabinet, or wants to meet with the parish councils across Jamaica, he can sit where he is, as he does not have to move to the different locations," Buchanan explained.
"With the convergence of the different means of transmitting data, voice data and video can now be used in one continuous stream by all devices," she said. Ms. Buchanan informed that the equipment has already been procured and a schedule is being prepared for the installation.
Buchanan said that the National Works Agency (NWA), which has installed fibre-optic cable across Jamaica, is a key partner with the USF on the initiative. A pilot for the project will be undertaken that will connect the Office of the Prime Minister; Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology and the Ministry of Finance and Public Service. The scope of the project will broaden as time progresses.
Dominica’s National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (NTRC), donated more than EC$60,000 of technological equipment to the Roseau Public Library and other public libraries across Dominica in an effort to support automation and internet access improvement within the institutions.
Speaking at the handing over ceremony of the equipment on Wednesday morning at the Roseau Public library, Minister for Education, Petter Saint Jean, said that these pieces of equipment will increase the benefits to public users of the libraries.
“These pieces of equipment will indeed support efforts here to provide users within the public libraries with increased availability, reliability, and capacity reference internet access and make the collection of the Dominica Library and Information Service (DLIS) more widely accessible and available through the World Wide Web,” he said.
“It will of course further enable the Dominica Library and Information Service to employ modern information and communication technologies, and the efficient delivery of information services,” he said.
According to Saint Jean, the equipment will assist the DLIS in tackling their challenges such as limited computer terminals for users, internet connection capacity, the slow processing and down time of the server, hence making service provision more advantageous.
“Importantly, the Dominica Library and Information Service will be better able to track services, changes, trends in use over a period. We will also ensure that we make better use of smarter planning and strategy to help better serve our communities, and especially for the young people, free internet access at all public library units in Roseau, Portsmouth, Grandbay and in Marigot,” Saint Jean stated.
Saint Jean encouraged young people to make use of the services not only for entertainment, but rather for maximizing the use, and to use the equipment in a responsible manner.
“I want to urge that we take care of what is given to us for free because everything that is given free, costs somebody else something…Engage in safe internet practices. I do sincerely hope that this donation will indeed inspire our students to promote learning, to promote information exchange,” he remarked.
Six Caribbean Countries In Talks With US$50M UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund
The United Arab Emirates-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund is already engaged in project evaluations with six Caribbean countries and expects several more applications before June, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) announced at the annual meeting of Caribbean utility CEOs under the CARILEC industry association.
This US50m grant fund, one of the largest and most pioneering initiatives for the region's renewable energy sector, was launched in January 2017 in a partnership between MOFAIC, Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), and Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company. The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund operates under the management of MOFAIC, whereas ADFD provides the grant funding, and Masdar leads in implementation.
"The response to the fund has been tremendous, in terms of both the volume and quality of project proposals," said Ali Al Shafar, the UAE's Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). "With Masdar and ADFD's technical expertise, we are now working with the countries in the Fund to identify critical interventions which, with an extra push, can move to implementation and help to increase commercial viability for future renewable energy projects."
At the CARILEC CEOs' meeting, MOFAIC met with utility executives and financiers from across the region to identify promising projects, as well as to present the initial results of the recently concluded first round of site inspections in six countries.
"We aim for the Fund to be a bridge-builder between the UAE and Caribbean countries," said Adel Al Hosani, Director of Operations at ADFD.
"The UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund, is expected to sign about four to six project agreements in its first cycle, and the second cycle talks with additional countries are anticipated by the fall of this year."
Khaled Ballaith, Director of Special Projects at Masdar, said: "The business case for renewable energy in the countries we have visited is among the strongest in the world. The due diligence process we are following in coordination with government bodies and other local stakeholders is focused on analysing the renewable resources available, in order to recommend the type, structure, and timing of external support."
UAE development assistance for renewable energy globally is now approaching US$1 billion. ADFD, through its seven-funding cycle – US$350 million ADFD-IRENA Project Facility, successfully approved US$189 million across 19 renewable energy developments.
January 2017 marked the completion of the fourth funding cycle, in which four renewable energy projects in four developing countries were identified. The ADFD-IRENA Project Facility, currently generating about 100 megawatts of energy, continues to enhance hundreds of thousands of lives.
Furthermore, Masdar implements bilateral programmes on behalf of the UAE government. Notably, Masdar has recently completed eight solar plants in rural Mauritania, which power about 39,000 homes and save 27,850 tonnes of carbon emissions per year, as well as delivering 6.5 megawatts (MW) of solar and wind capacity across 11 Pacific countries, enabling savings of 3.2 million litres of diesel fuel annually.
NETKI & BITT Production Release IUnderway With Caribbean Financial Institution
Netki, a provider of Open Source and Open Standards compliance solutions for Blockchains, announced the first production platform for Central Banks using its Digital Identity Service. Bitt and Netki provide the solution through a Blockchain based central bank digital currency issuance that has the potential to modernize the financial system of the region, thereby ushering in the establishment of a stronger payment and settlement framework with unprecedented levels of economic growth.
Bitt is the architect of Blockchain and distributed ledger based technology infrastructure for interbank transactions and cash digitisation systems for central banks.
“Bitt joined forces with Netki as part of our ongoing initiative to bolster compliance efforts and provide an effective means for all people, including underbanked individuals to engage in the global economy through digital payments that are low cost, secure, easy to use and highly efficient,” said Gabriel Abed, CEO of Bitt.
“Correspondent banks have de-risked some local Caribbean banks based on perceived higher risk and lower returns. This prevents these local Caribbean banks from having access to foreign markets and also hurts merchants and customers who are unable to access foreign banks and financial institutions,” said Oliver Gale, President of Bitt.
Many Caribbean nations are still struggling with low economic growth, the effects of de-risking by US correspondent banks and the high cost of compliance. Central bank digital currency issuance is a viable solution to solve a number of problems in the payment system today. With both Bitt and Netki working together, central banks in their role as regulators and banks will have all the necessary identity information required for transactions. This will lower risk levels and increase the ease of doing business.
Netki CEO Justin Newton, Bitt CEO Gabriel Abed and Central Bank of Aruba General Manager Economic Policy Ryan Petersen presented a keynote on the main stage at Consensus 2017 taking place in New York. The presentation gives an overview of Netki and Bitt’s technology and how it meets the risk and compliance requirements of central banks and ends with the Bank of Aruba’s representative joining the conversation to discuss goals, challenges and opportunities for Blockchain technology as a tool for financial inclusion and market access.
“For innovation, inclusion and value creation to happen on the Blockchain, financial institutions must meet risk and compliance regulations, which Netki provides through its Digital Identity Service,” said Justin Newton, CEO of Netki. “With a digital identity standard in place, financial institutions can realize the benefits of Blockchain, expand their service offerings and market coverage.”
Netki Digital Identity Solutions are being used with Bitt’s Mobile Wallet, Merchant Processor, Teller, ATM, Debit Card, and Exchange. Bitt is providing the payment network to interconnect the Caribbean using the Blockchain to form the Caribbean Settlement Network.
Caribbean Governments cannot contain cyber threats single handedly for several reasons. There is need for capacity building and overall public sector awareness, most governments do not have a centralised focus on risk and contingency planning and hence issues associated with cyber security are not prioritised, and overall there is no security programme plan to increase network visibility and control.
In a recent article published in the St. Maarten Daily Herald, Martin Van Nes, an in-depth specialist in combatting cybercrime for the Dutch Caribbean, said cybercrime deserves more attention. “There is insufficient awareness about cybercrime among residents, within the business community, and in Government. There is an increased threat of cyber-attacks and cyber-security should be stepped up,” he said.
Without a dedicated and planned approach we certainly can predict that the national security, public safety and the economic development of our Caribbean governments will be compromised in a time when most islands are facing hard economic times. Choosing to wait and see what happens is not an option. The Panama Papers, the $150M cyber robbery from a Jamaican bank, reports of Isis hijacking regional websites, customers locally and regionally being hit with ransomware attacks are all indicators that we need to adopt a different approach.
It is clear that the Caribbean government are easy targets for several reasons but there is hope. Governments need to implement a Contingency plan that looks at the impact of cyber breaches on national infrastructure. The Caribbean Cyber Security Center (CCSC) has developed such a team to support Caribbean governments in gaining independent validation and verification assessment and guidance to an improved security posture with reduced risks of exploitation.
Without expert collaboration from a team like the CCSC and others, regional governments reduce their ability to respond to cyber threats and will be expose to greater risks online, as perpetrators learn to exploit national and regional information and communication technology weaknesses within the Caribbean one-by-one.
The Government of St. Maarten has taken the proactive approach to tighten up the IT security which has lead to some public sector officers complaining of the restricted access at work. This move was and is necessary to ensure there is greater controlled access to IT systems which hold national security and personal information of the country. Phase two which will occur very soon will be an upcoming conference on cyber security with the goal of having all stakeholders within St. Maarten present to raise the level of awareness.
The conference will be held in collaboration with the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post St. Maarten, the Public Prosecutors Office, the Caribbean Cyber Security Center and other national stakeholders. Additionally, a draft national security action plan will be developed which will be used as a guide for private and public sector organization to ensure the relevant level of security controls are in place to protect systems from digital pirates.
Expose Students To Technology Early, IDB Rep Tells Jamaica
Country representative for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Therese Turner-Jones, says students need to be introduced to emerging technologies at a much younger age if Jamaica hopes to bridge the knowledge gap that now exists between itself and the rest of the world.“It's not okay to say we are better than Trinidad. So what? We want to be better than Finland, which gets the best result in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That's where we have to take the mindset of education,” Turner-Jones insisted last week at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.
The IDB country representative was part of a team of stakeholders discussing the education of boys as it relates to the launch the British Council's Boys in Education Week.
“What we are learning about where work is going to be in the next century is not what we are teaching right now — (such as) manufacturing that doesn't involve human beings, agriculture that can be grown in buildings, not on farms — so when you hear about what technology is doing in the rest of the world… Jamaica and the Caribbean are using technology to a little extent, but not to the extent to which we need to be using it. So there is a huge gap in our knowledge base, so it has to start really early,” she said.
“We have to take this subject of education way beyond what our minds can imagine that our kids are going to need to know to function within the next 30 years. The technology is already there; we are way behind. You cannot put kids behind a desk with a chalkboard and talk to them like they are imbeciles… from 18 months old kids are now programming, and we put them in the classroom and are teaching in a way that is sort of arcane,” Turner-Jones stated.
She argued that the Caribbean should focus on fitting into a world that is “all technology”, positing: “If it means we don't need human beings to produce things anymore, we shouldn't be teaching kids multiple timetables — we have calculators to do that, we have algorithms that can solve problems. There are other things we ought to be doing to make sure the brains of our kids are developed to their maximum potential.”
Turner-Jones noted that according to official data, only 30 per cent of students leaving high school qualify to enter tertiary-level institutions. “So they can't get into UWI (University of the West Indies), UTech (the University of Technology), or any of our tertiary institutions because they don't have the credentials. Basically, they have failed high school. Seventy per cent of all the kids in Jamaican high schools face this dilemma — I call it a crisis,” she said.
She said policymakers and other players must seek to improve these outcomes by enhancing teacher quality, the curriculum, and other areas, but that solutions need to be implemented for the stock of people who already cannot take up jobs because they are not qualified.
Commenting on the continued under performance of boys in the education system, Turner-Jones noted that traditionally, STEM attracts more male than female students, but said: “I think that there is something about the way we are teaching kids early on that is not quite teaching the boys.”
At the same time, Turner-Jones said that for better outcomes, it is best to make comparisons with the rest of the world in the testing of students' knowledge and skills when they are measured at an older age, such as 15 for example, rather than at age 11.
The inaugural Boy’s in Education Week ended with a boy’s app development hackathon at UTech. The week was organised by the British Council with support from the IDB. The British Council is a cultural relations organisation that works to promote knowledge sharing and understanding between Jamaica and the United Kingdom, and the rest of the Caribbean.
Participants in the sessions, which was aimed at promoting sustainable solutions to address the current challenges of boys in education, included the Ministry of Education, parents, teachers, and international experts.
EThink Education Is Looking To Expand In The Caribbean and Nigeria
After an agreement that helped it expand in the U.S. last year, eThink Education is moving into the Caribbean and Nigeria.
The Betamore-based edtech company provides hosting and services for Moodle, an open-source education platform. The company recently became a certified Moodle partner for the two international areas. eThink is the first and only company with that status in those regions. “It’s a big step forward,” said CEO Brian Carlson.
Moodle is a platform that helps schools, colleges and even companies organize learning materials online.
“Where we come in as a provider of services is that we’re bringing them a number of different strategies as well as technology to help them radically expand the footprint of how they’re using a digital learning platform to make learning more efficient,” Carlson said.
The company identified the two regions for growth, and partnership status was officially reviewed and granted by Moodle’s headquarters in Australia. In the U.S., most schools already have a learning management system. The adoption is not as wide in the Caribbean and Nigeria, Carlson said. In the Caribbean, eThink is seeking to help colleges more easily share course materials and collaborate through a learning network.
Over the last six months, Carlson said the company is also seeing growth with corporate clients. Companies seek to use Moodle when organizing onboarding of employees, as well as ongoing training.