Inner-city residents build computer lab to assist students
As online learning takes over due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children are at a disadvantage because of the lack of Internet access.
Chanderpaul Sutton and Yanique Samuda, residents of Fletchers Land in Kingston, are trying to ensure that children and parents in the community aren't left behind.
Last month, they opened their Internet cafe, Printona, in the community.
According to Sutton, since the cafe opened its doors last month, it has been attracting many youngsters and provides a safe haven for them to do their school work and engage in fun activities.
"It tends to take some of the kids off the streets because in addition to doing their schoolwork, I also have games there. So just in case they want to do some form of entertainment, they can. The environment is very clean, and we ensure we maintain social distancing and sanitise a lot. But most importantly, we oversee their online activity and put measures in place to restrict adult content so they can surf the net safely while they are there," he said.
The 26-year-old said that it was his own personal experience when he was a student that led him to start the business from his home a few years ago.
The unwelcome arrival of the novel coronavirus in March, however, caused him to relocate the cafe to a more convenient location in the community.
"When I was going to school, there wasn't really any Internet cafes or printing areas in the community, so I would have to go to places like Kingston Bookshop, and so on, to get my work printed. I knew others were having the same issue, so I purchased a printer and started doing printing services from my home," he said.
Sutton noted that given the breakdown in the economy and related job cuts, he will not be turning his back on any child who can't pay for the service.
"I have realised that not every student has access to Zoom classes because they don't have a computer or have access to the Internet, and I really wanted to help. I will not turn away any child that really has meaningful work to do because his or her parents cannot afford to pay the fee," he said. "School will not be reopened until September, so this is a platform they can use in this pandemic. I am also using this opportunity to introduce them to programming and show them how to design because I did computer science at The University of the West Indies."