Opening Session, Tech Lab Guyana

Thursday April 26, 2018
RORAIMA DUKE LODGE, Duke St., Kingston



  • Madame Chair and Moderator, Lyndell Black
  • First lady of Guyana, Hon. Sandra Granger
  • My Colleague, Minister of Business Hon. Dominic Gaskin
  • Colleague and co founder of She Leads it and organiser of the Caribbean Girls in ICT Hackathon, Nicole Pitter Patterson
  • Professionals in the world of ICT, Business and Academia
  • Young Leaders and potential creators
  • Friends, All …

As usual, the sight of all of these bright eager faces gives me a little rush, especially when I realize that I am looking in the face of my future. Make no mistake, the future of Guyana, indeed the future of the world, depends more and more on our young people and their ability to learn to utilize every facet of Information Communication Technology especially when we consider that 70% of jobs in 2025 worldwide will require STEM skills.

You young people are indeed the chosen generation. You will keep Guyana relevant, and with knowledge of ICTs, you will be able to respond to every global change.

Over the past few weeks I’ve listened a few times to a very powerful Microsoft commercial. It is a piece of Motivation delivered by a rapper/actor called COMMON! This man is an American Hip Hop artiste, a motivational speaker, a writer, and a close friend of former President Barrack Obama. This is what he said:

“Today, right now, YOU have more power at your fingertips than entire generations who came before you.

Technology is a possibility; it’s adaptability, it’s capability … but it’s only a TOOL.

It is not about what Technology can do, it’s about what you can do with it. You are the hammer, and technology is the nail … you’re the artist, and it is the paintbrush.

You are the future we always dreamed of. You have more power at YOUR finger tips than entire generations that came before you! So here’s the Question … What will you do with it?” Unquote!

Now I’d like to believe that you’ve seen this commercial before. If not, you must listen to it. He wrote this particular piece of inspiration for the Microsoft Company, and Microsoft is using it as part of an ICT ‘knowledge’ campaign which also promotes the benefits of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.

Today is International Girls in ICT Day which is observed in Guyana and every other country in the world every year on April 26. Today we renew our commitment to change attitudes and transform the lives of women and girls through ICT’s.

This is something that we take very seriously. The Girls in ICT Clubs in our high schools – especially at Bygeval and North Ruimveldt where we piloted the projects, and our girls in the STEM and STEAM clubs, the girls at the University of Guyana and the Teachers Training College … they are all organizing activities, competitions and training programmes throughout the year. I urge each of you to get involved, learn more and update your skills.

There are also a few ‘Guyanese Girls can Code’ clubs, and this afternoon, the students of several secondary schools will showcase their projects at an exhibition at the Giftland Mall from 3 pm. And, just last week, the Ministry of Public Telecommunications began a 12-week training programme for 50 young ladies, ages 11 to 15, to teach them the basics of Coding.

ICT is all about putting your creative genius to work, using the internet to develop newer and better versions of the apps you use every day on your cellphones and computers. You will do it, I know, but before you could create apps, you first have to learn Coding and Programming – and that’s the reason for launching that Guyanese Girls Can Code course, which is free of charge.

The main objective of this approach is to get young girls interested enough to pursue any discipline in Information Technology. It is a very wide field…

Briefly I will tell you why we are taking Girls in ICT so seriously:-

1.Information Communication Technology has a part to play in every single aspect of our lives. Even the Pastor, the Pandit or the Imam at church or Temple needs a computer to search the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Holy Qu’ran that could be found online.
2.You as students, can find practice tests online as you prepare for examinations.
3.The entire developed world has gone digital, and Guyana has to be able to get the best benefits from the oil and gas industry that is right there at our front door, and from the new technologies to be applied to every other productive and services sector. We will get the best benefits when our entire population is computer literate.
4.Programmes like this one is yet another effort on our part to ensure that our female citizens stop being afraid of Technology and embrace it, because you need it … and you can and you will be successful at it.

My dearest wish is that you will learn so much and will be so inspired that you will want to continue what you began here. I want you to see the many, many possibilities that will be open to you when you continue to acquire higher qualifications in ICT’s. You will see how much more you could do, and how much money you will make! This is the beginning for you, on your way to changing the world.

Thank you

Catherine Hughes