MILLE GULLY, Manchester:
Manchester North Western MP Mikael Phillips is calling on the government to boost rural development not just by creating schemes but by providing the resources needed for sustainability.
He indicated that among the needs for water, improved road surfaces and electricity in rural areas, access to consistent and efficient Internet service is now the main one.
“Internet connectivity is something that without it, not only will our students suffer, but commerce and basic communications will suffer,” he said.
Phillips, who was speaking at the launch of the community Wi-Fi hotspot in the Mile Gully district of his constituency, made possible through the Universal Service Fund (USF) initiative, believes that deep rural areas should receive more attention. USF is to establish 189 hotspots across Jamaica by March.
“Even though the government, through USF, makes these community connectivity locations available, the next step for us, which was announced by the minister [Daryl] Vaz, in his latest industry presentation, looks at how we’re going to get that connectivity into deeper rural communities. »
With the pandemic appearing to sit there indefinitely, Phillips thinks that should be an indicator for embracing greater reliance on technology to access services that have been pushed into the virtual space.
“We’re going to continue to have a blended approach to education, and if our students don’t have connectivity at home, school is fine. But it’s no use to students if they don’t have of connectivity in their homes or in the communities they live in. This is going to be an essential part of our rural development going further into the 21st century,” said Phillips.
In addition to Mile Gully, the communities of Huntley and Greenvale will be part of phase one of the Wi-Fi installation project in the constituency.
According to Phillips, the communities of Comfort Hall, Free Town and Hatfield were suggested for phase two of the Wi-Fi installation.
“We try, in each of these communities where we have a Wi-Fi hotspot, to set up a homework center. We will be working with the Mile Gully Community Club to develop a student homework center because until we have that connectivity in communities we want a safe space for our students.
Phillips added: “We need to look at rural development, not just in a name in a ministry, but put the resources behind it and the action to ensure that rural communities, like here in Mile Gully and other surrounding communities, get the attention that urban communities get, so that we can continue to grow.