The Zara Group of Companies out of New York is taking Guyana into a new and exciting information technology phase, where persons at the community level can actually browse the worldwide web and read books at the same time.
Each day technology is becoming more advanced and thus there is the need to become more “adaptable”, said the senior Vice President Jay Sobhraj, of the company.
It’s against this backdrop that the Zara Group of Companies from 2003 to present continues to invest in this area.
The Zara Company was started in New York by his brother, George Subhraj, some 30 years ago. The company was mainly involved in real estate business and managing apartment buildings.
According to Sobhraj, the Guyana linkage came about because of the need to give back to the country of his birth. He explained that he wanted to focus more on “information technology” while his brother George Subhraj started with the medical aspect.
Technical co-ordinator for the project, Nardeo Singh, told Kaieteur News that the main reason he came onboard with the project was because he was getting a chance to give back to his country.
He explained that his first visit back to Guyana in 2003, after years of living aboard he saw an opportunity for Guyana to play an integral role in the information technology world.
In that year, he said that they first opened a centre at the University of Guyana Tain Campus, Berbice. There and then Singh said that they were planting a seed that could grow once its cared for.
Singh elaborated that he was more determined with the project because Guyana had the capability because of its geographic location and being the only English speaking country in South America.
“I saw that technology was the future in 2003 and it’s transforming our lives and not just skills,” Singh said.
He told Kaieteur News that cognizant of his 2003 trip, when he returned to Guyana in 2006 he was asked to spearhead a project which would the Zara Group developing a state of the art computer centre and library.
Singh said that he visited the Cove and John Ashram, he again saw the vision rekindled. “I planted the seed in 2003 and I was somewhat disappointed that Guyanese stakeholders didn’t pick up on the project,” Singh noted.
The Hindu College had requested for a donation of computers, and that he said ignited the vision in him.
“You cannot just give the computers without the infrastructure for sustainability and training” Singh said. At several meetings with all the company’s directors, they agreed that they would embark on building a computer center, where they would develop instructors so that they would independently carry it on. The company invested some US$300,000 ($60M). A second building was built at the Cove and John Ashram for the training of graphics.
As they continued with various projects around Guyana they were approached by “Swami G” from the West Coast, who asked for the vision to be brought to that community.
After thoughtful planning with the several of Zara’s officials another state of art computer center was built over. Soon after completing that project the Central Islamic Organization came on board to get a centre built for the organization.
Henceforth Singh said the focus soon after shifted to the Guyana Police Force. According to Singh, people are always in the habit of criticizing the police. He said that often, people who criticize the police hardly bring a solution to some of the problems they face.
Singh said that in a world where technology is moving fast the police need to be not just one step in front of criminals but several steps.
It’s against this backdrop that the group partnered with the Guyana Police Force.
The group first started by opening a Computer Training College at the Richard Fikal College in Essequibo, last year, to afford Information Technology training for police ranks.
That training has since been extended to students and adults on the Essequibo Coast. Some 140 persons graduated at the end of both theoretical and practical training.
The group installed 36 Dell Desktop computers. These will facilitate training in the field of Information Technology to members of the force, students and the wider populace, Singh noted.
Singh insisted that everyone is a stakeholder and there is the need for it to develop it.
A second center was built in Berbice, at the Felix Austin College. That center, like its Essequibo counterpart, also focuses on equipping the police with IT skills. It also plays an integral part in the community with residents.
Both colleges are fixed with an indoor library which is intended to be beneficial to both the community and the police.
Again the excitement was so much they started to focus on Georgetown. Singh said that all this was happening in a two-year time span. Last November, they opened another state of the art computer center.
Singh said that they have engaged in trying to produce real IT professionals. They started courses in computer repairs. In that course all the persons are employed by the GPF. They would go out and teach at the training centers.
This, Singh said, is a great networking which is beneficial to the force.
Charity makes us dependent, however, opportunity liberates and people should value opportunity to receive education, while parents should encourage their children to seek knowledge and to later learn service to all is important, he said.
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