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Sea Lots children get free Internet service

By Marlene Augustine Friday, September 5 2014

CHILDREN in Sea Lots, Port-of-Spain, now have free Internet service and can play educational games on a computer, thanks to the international social learning experiment “Hole-in-the-Wall”.

Created in India by educational researcher Prof Sugata Mitra, the experiment allows children to explore the Internet on their own and in so doing learn new skills.

Mitra indicated that most children in today’s society do not like to be told what to do, and this initiative creates a space where children can do what they wanted and learn at the same time. “They can access the Internet, play games and things that they would like to do and explore on their own,” he said.

Mitra explained that Hole-in-the-Wall is a 19-inch monitor and keyboard secured in a booth, which is accessible to the children who would be able to learn and enhance their skills while researching on their own.

Mitra was participating in the launch of the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training and the Youth Training and Employment Partnership Programme’s (YTEPP) Public Access Learning System (PALS) yesterday at the Sea Lots Community Centre.

Chairman of the board of directors of YTEPP, Chandar Gupta Supersad, said they have adopted Mitra’s Hole-in-the-Wall project and applied it here in TT as a new approach to encourage learning among children.

“Through PALS, we are bringing information and communications technology to the people, and so removing the challenge of accessibility to computer training and other technology applications to assist with the growth and development of all citizens,” he noted. He said the infusion of technology in education is an important one and that learning must be made an engaging experience. He added, “Children can access filtered Internet and learn while playing educational games, because technology plays an important role in today’s world.” YTEPP’s manager of Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Montgomery Guy, explained that their public access unit is a community-based system and that the software being used is an interactive software for children to explore, in the form of games, while teaching each other.

“It is a term Prof Sugata Mitra has called ‘minimally invasive education’. In addition to that it has the normal Chrome Internet explorer that gives access to the Internet, so it allows persons to do different research and browse the world,” he said.

He said YTEPP has ensured that the children are protected from illicit sites.

Resident Frederick John said the unit was the best initiative he had seen and welcomes it to his community. “I think it is a good idea because the youths don’t really have much to do when the day comes, and by the unit being in the community it can really help our young people,” he said.

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