GFDD and FUNGLODE host the Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda at the Sixth Global RoundtableJuly 15, 2011
On Friday, July 15, 2011, Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and its sister institution in the Dominican Republic, FUNGLODE, hosted their sixth Global Roundtable committed to promoting dialogue on issues of worldwide concern
with high level delegates from the international UN community.
For its latest Roundtable, GFDD and FUNGLODE had the pleasure of hosting H.E. John W. Ashe, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and Co-Chair on one of the world’s most high level environmental conference, Rio + 20. Below are highlights from the discussion which covered a range of timely issues from the environment to the specific initiatives
Antigua & Barbuda has enacted in the areas of Education/ICT’s, Health, and the incorporation of the growing number of Spanish-speaking immigrants from the Dominican Republic into the dominant English-speaking culture.
In his capacity as Co-Chair at the United Nations Conference
on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), which takes place in Brazil on 4-6 June 2012, Ambassador Ashe explained that the conference would focus on two primary themes: (a) a green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication; and (b) the institutional framework for sustainable development.
As co-Chair, the Ambassador will be part of a team of senior-level delegates committed to researching & identifying innovative ways of
enhancing the integration of sustainable development in the activities of all relevant United Nations agencies, programs and funds.
With specific reference to the environmental challenges facing Antigua & Barbuda, Ambassador Ashe explained that his nation, like many other Small Island Developing States, must address the issue of climate change especially in regards to securing and protecting the country’s scarce water
Education and ICT’s
Education in Antigua & Barbuda is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 5 and 16 years. As a result, the country enjoys a high level of literacy estimated at over 90%. In the
area of computer literacy, however, many students remain underexposed. In an effort to bridge the digital divide, the government is currently hosting representatives from Dell, Microsoft, Intel and South South News and actively seeking to develop partnership agreements focused on the country’s ICT goals – including a national laptop initiative whose goal is to distribute up to 25,000 laptops to every child at the elementary, primary, secondary and even tertiary
levels by the year 2012.
The Government, in partnership with telecommunications company LIME, has also announced a new initiative that will provide every teacher in Antigua and Barbuda with a modern, high-speed laptop computer. In addition, each teacher will receive at their homes, four months of free high-speed Internet to be followed by an additional three years of service at significantly reduced rates. This new component of the Connect Antigua and Barbuda
Initiative, “Technology for Education 20/20” is slated to commence in September of this year and will directly empower over 1600 primary and secondary school teachers, both in public and private schools and will be administered by the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications, Science and Technology.
Finally, all secondary schools, both private and public, will become Wi-Fi enabled to allow them to become virtual hot
spots. The costs associated with this Internet connectivity will be met by the Government in their efforts to leave no school teacher or student behind and dramatically and positively impact the educational landscape in Antigua and Barbuda.
In 1998, Antigua and Barbuda adopted a national mandate to become the preeminent provider of medical services in the Caribbean. As part of this mission, Antigua and Barbuda is
building the most technologically advanced hospital in the Caribbean, the Mt. St. John Medical Centre. The island of Antigua currently has two medical schools, the American University of Antigua (AUA), founded in 2004 and The University of Health Sciences Antigua (UHSA), founded in 1982.
Though the official language is English, a Spanish-speaking community now constitutes a sizeable section of the population of
Antigua and Barbuda as the result of immigration from the Dominican Republic, particularly after 1981, the year of the Antigua’s independence. The permanence of this community can be seen in such developments as the establishment of Spanish-speaking churches and the appearance in the capital of business signs in Spanish. A significant section of the community is said to be descended from Antiguans who emigrated to the Dominican Republic in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries in search of employment.
Some initiatives have been taken at an official level in Antigua and Barbuda to provide for the language needs of the country’s new hispanic population. However, a more vigorous language policy must be pursued in which the non-immigrant population sees benefits that can accrue to it.
The Global Roundtable ongoing
program is part of GFDD’s goal to support the work of the United Nations and as a non-governmental organization with consultative status, contribute to the visibility and understanding of its work.