Wednesday, 19 March 2014

ICT still a priority for Caribbean governments

Caribbean governments have reaffirmed that ICT is a priority and has a role in developing all sectors and advancing all regional initiatives and imperatives.

Heads of Government agreed at their recent meeting in St. Vincent that developing a CARICOM Digital Economy is key to changing the socio-economic profile of the region and for creating jobs, especially for the Community’s youth, new opportunities and engendering innovation and competitiveness.

They agreed that ICT efforts should be undertaken in tandem with the Reform Process of the region and that sustained efforts in the years 2014-2015 should be on building a Single ICT space as part of the digital layer of the CSME.

This includes addressing issues related to roaming rates and improved broadband service across the region.

A road-map for the implementation of the Single ICT space is to be presented for consideration at their July 2014 Meeting. They also agreed to accord priority attention to cyber-security.

Heads of Government expressed appreciation to the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr the Hon. Keith Mitchell, for his leadership in advancing the ICT agenda at this meeting. They also commended the CARICOM Secretariat and regional organisations: CTU, CBU, CKLN, CARICAD, and CARISCIENCE in supporting the Lead Head for ICT matters and reaffirmed the co-ordinating role of the CARICOM Secretariat.

In addition, the Communique said that the Heads of Government, in keeping with a decision made at their Thirty–Fourth Regular Meeting in July 2013, discussed the issue of Education and Human Resource Development in CARICOM.

They received a presentation which highlighted the need to focus on Human Resource Development across all ages and within all sectors, including the public sector and gave specific focus to the formal education system.

They considered the current state of education in the region and acknowledged the significant gains which had been made over the past decades. They nevertheless lamented the inherent inefficiencies and wastage in education and training systems.

Heads of Government noted the less than optimum outcomes for students at all levels, matched against the requirements of 21st century societies and economies.

They endorsed the need for a holistic approach to transformation of education which would make more efficient use of national and regional resources, including Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), to develop and implement solutions to the challenges outlined.

Heads of Government also recognised the lack of capacity in the region to deal effectively with students with special needs, and identified this as an area for focused attention. They noted the importance of research and teacher training, the sharing of best practices and technical and professional resources.

Heads of Government mandated the establishment of a Commission on Human Resource Development to shape a Regional Education and Human Resource Development 2030 Strategy. The Strategy would form the basis for converged action by Member States and relevant institutions and create a framework for the CARICOM Education Agenda. The Commission is expected to collaborate with Education Ministries and other portfolios, with key civil society actors, in particular labour and the private sector, on perspectives and key proposed actions with regard to the Strategy.

Heads of Government commended the Rt. Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, Lead Head of Government with responsibility for Human Resource Development and Health. They expressed appreciation for his leadership in advancing the HRD agenda at this meeting and recalled his similar role in the area of health, particularly in addressing HIV/AIDS through PANCAP, NCDs and with the establishment of CARPHA. They also expressed appreciation to the Prime Minister for his commitment and dedication to the Community as the longest serving member of the Conference.

Heads of Government also expressed appreciation for the work of the CARICOM Cluster on Human Resource Development in supporting the Lead Head in the area of Human Resource Development. The Cluster is led by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and includes the CARICOM Secretariat, the University of the West Indies (UWI), the University of Guyana (UG), the Caribbean Knowledge and Learning Network Agency (CKLNA) and the Caribbean Centre for Development Administration (CARICAD).

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