The Raspberry Pi is a relatively inexpensive basic computer invented several years ago by persons interested in reviving creativity in the field of computer science. It is now being introduced to Belize as the centerpiece of the second year of the Public Utilities Commission (PUC)’s Young Innovators Program, which kicks off with workshops for teachers of information technology (IT) from 47 high schools around the country in August, where they will be taught how to use a computer that is the size of a credit card but surrenders no power to larger size machines and can be used for just about anything. PUC chairman John Avery; consultant and UB lecturer Dalwin Lewis; and former Commissioners and consultants Roosevelt Blades and Carla Maheia-Hart, believe it can be used to jumpstart the minds of young Belizeans. Avery told us more at a press conference in Belize City.
John Avery – Chairman, Public Utilities Commission
“For this year’s iteration of your Young Innovators Program, we are focusing on ICT in schools and our objective is to encourage greater use of computers – not necessarily as users for running software and computing problems and that sort of thing, but really as a platform that students can build on. Coming up with creative and innovating solutions to different challenges in the world we live today.”
After workshops in Belize City from August 3-7 and Belmopan August 10-14 the teachers will take back five Raspberry Pi units and accessories valued at about $200 each to their schools to begin teaching it to schools. The “Raspberry Pi Jam,” scheduled for December, will feature projects designed by students using the Pi. Lewis explains why this will be a sea change for how information technology is taught in Belizean schools.
“When we say IT, in reality the students are being thought Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and if they are lucky, they m ight make a static webpage using HTML. These are not things that allow you to be creative. So, what we want is to – and this is following along with the rest of the world, where they see the problem and are slowly transitioning to doing things that allow students to be more creative, hence the reason why they introduce things like the Raspberry Pi. With the Raspberry Pi, we hope that students who are exposed to IT in high school are not only able to use a word processer but be able to actually create something of their own. That’s the goal. If we can do that, we have successes.”
In addition to evolving the culture of youths from users of technology to producers and creators, the PUC and Ministry of Education, which is a partner, hope to instill a love of computers and technological development within them. Prizes will be awarded and the best projects may be submitted to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Telecom World Exhibit.