(written by Peter Wholihan, from newsletter)

“The opportunities that young people hold for the Caribbean region, where two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30, cannot be underestimated.” (Caribbean Youth Development, World Bank, May 2003).

Cell phones in the pocket, iPods to the ears, GameBoys in the hand, young people are connected. Are schools? What exactly are our youth connected to and how do they use technology? How about Student Cell Phone Pictures, Passa Passa, and YouTube? If you know what I am writing about, you are connected. If you do not, ask a young person and watch the reaction. To paraphrase Thomas Friedman in his book, “The World is Flat”, are we preparing our children for the race ahead? No!

The same World Bank report also spoke to the importance of schools to students in the Caribbean:

Connectedness to schools is highly protective against all risky behaviors, including using drugs and alcohol and engaging in violent or sexual activity. For example, among school-going adolescents, the probability of sexual behavior falls by 30 percentage points for boys and 60 percentage points for girls if they are connected to schools. Conversely, the school system can have devastating effects on those youth with low academic achievement by not granting them a place in school and, as a corollary, making them feel socially excluded and “worthless.”

Are our youth using technology? Yes! Are they harnessing these tools in innovative ways. Yes! Can we do a better job of providing them with guidance and educational knowhow to become better citizens and contributors to our society as a whole? We must! The alternative is too dire to contemplate.

I am excited to be involved with Waveplace. Not only is the organization geared to provide students with their own laptop computer, but more importantly its main emphasis is on course materials and training in the innovative use of technology. This approach can be used in the Caribbean to harness and encourage youths attraction to technology and to build greater capacity into our human resources to be brought to its full potential. My hope is programs such as these can have concentric and profound educational, economic, and societal benefits for the Caribbean and beyond.

Welcome Waveplace!

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