The Essequibo Islands Secondary School in San Souci, Wakenaam, a small island community in Guyana located at the mouth of the Essequibo River, is now home to an information technology laboratory.
The idea of U.S. Peace Corp volunteer Erin Rowe, the project began in 2006 and was officially launched July 20, 2007 by U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, David Robinson. The computer lab offers eight internet- ready workstations - making it the only secondary school on the island with Internet access.
Using a grant obtained from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Emergency Plan/PEPFAR) and funding from the community, the computer lab provides unlimited resources and research materials for students and community members. After only one week of internet service in the lab, there has been an overwhelming response of interest and excitement from students, teachers and community members.
Computers and the Internet provide a new and creative way to educate users about health topics like HIV/AIDS. One unique feature of the lab is its stigma-reducing HIV/AIDS messages. Each computer desktop displays a different stigma-reducing message, and the homepage of each web browser is set to the Guyana Ministry of Health web page for HIV/AIDS.
Four hundred students are enrolled in the school where they are also exposed to HIV/AIDS education and prevention messages. A community program is also being offered for a small fee to teach marketable computer skills. From these courses, students will gain knowledge about computers and become more competitive in Guyana's workplace.
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