Jul 02, 2020 News
Education battered by COVID-19…
Guyana’s education system has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with the country appealing for help.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed that Minister Karen Cummings made the situation known during a ‘Ministerial Conference on the Digital Response to COVID-19’.
Guyana was invited by Urmas Reinsalu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Estonia.
The web has reported that the internet in Estonia has one of the highest penetration rates in the world. In the first quarter of 2010, 75% out of 1.34 million people in the country used the internet according to Statistics Estonia.
In 2017, according to the World Bank, the country came 13th in the world by the percentage of population using the internet, with 88.1% people using it.
“I must also offer congratulations to the Group of Friends on e-Governance and Cyber Security, in particular the Governments of Estonia and Singapore, for their efforts in hosting this conference and co-sponsoring a Global Declaration on the Digital Response to COVID-19, for which Guyana declares its full support,” Cummings told the meeting conducted by virtual video conferencing.
“Guyana, like the rest of the world, has not been spared from the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last four months, the people of Guyana, like so many other citizens around the world, have had to confront unprecedented circumstances. As we meet remotely today for this most timely and relevant forum, we obviously will reflect on the fact that this virus has negatively impacted our individual and collective health, education, and economic sectors.”
According to Dr. Cummings, despite these challenges, however, the Government of Guyana has worked assiduously to implement major updates to our public health systems, and to put in place measures that will allow to effectively counter any disproportionate spread of COVID-19.
“Guyana, like many other developing countries, has been forced to confront the urgent need for digital services and the much-needed improvements that we must implement across sectors to ensure that we are capable of confronting the types of disruptions that any future pandemics may bring. The truly innovative digital solutions highlighted in the Global Declaration, I believe, offer a road map for Guyana and other countries with similar challenges, to make the quantum leap into bridging the digital divide that impacts our responses and overall management of situations such as COVID-19.”
The official told the other ministers that the Government of Guyana supports the inclusion of language in the Joint Declaration that recognizes the importance of redirecting international cooperation efforts towards the implementation of these digital transformations.
“We believe it is always important to highlight the different realities of states, specifically, the unique position of developing States, especially SIDS and LDCs. As we move towards digital systems, the risk of widening the gaps between rich and poor, both within and among states, is ever more concerning.”
Cummings admitted that in Guyana, the people have become preoccupied with this reality as the education system has been severely affected by COVID-19.
“Guyana through its Ministry of Education has undertaken several interventions to support distance and virtual learning. We have also embarked on increasing the number of educational programs through public television, media houses and interactive radio. While these measures have been implemented by my Government, we still are somewhat constrained by challenges such as lack of access to high-speed internet and e-learning materials in vulnerable and rural households which are proving most difficult to overcome.”
She said that Guyana continues to express its interest in collaborating with international partners in enhancing our efforts in these areas and for international cooperation to include innovative ways in ensuring that assistance is provided for states with gaps.
“Once again, I wish to underscore the fact that Guyana attached great importance to the development of strong digital societies and we reiterate our support for the Global Declaration on the Digital Response to COVID-19.”
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