GB ICT graduates commended for making history

Shannera Bartlett was the first student of the 49-member graduation class of the Information and Communication Technology Program to receive her certificate during graduation ceremonies, which was held on Friday, July 16th, 2021 at Freeport Bible Church. At left is Minister of State for Finance and for Grand Bahama the Hon. Kwasi Thompson, and at right, President of BTVI Dr. Robert W. Robertson. (BIS Photo/Lisa Davis)

From Bahamas Information Services

The Information and Communication Technology Program in Grand Bahama was birthed by P.M, the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis, endorsed by Minister of Education the Hon. Jeffery Lloyd and nurtured by Minister of State for Finance and for Grand Bahama, Senator the Hon. Kwasi Thompson. On Friday, July 16th the first students of that program participated in a graduation ceremony at Freeport Bible Church, as they made education history.

“This is truly a day of celebration, because not only have you achieved a significant accomplishment towards your professional career, but you have indeed made history as the first cohort of the revolutionary ICT program offered through a partnership between the Bahamas Government and BTVI, to increase employability opportunities and tighten the skills gap within our country,” Minister of Education the Hon. Jeffery Lloyd told graduates, via zoom, during the graduation ceremony.

“Graduates, I greet you with immense pride and elation because you have all performed exceptionally well amid what many view as the most tumultuous and calamitous events of our lifetime. “First a monstrous storm called Dorian in 2019 and then the evasive, invisible enemy called COVID-19 in 2020, which still plagues us today.

Grappling with these harsh realities, thankfully, you have emerged victorious in your pursuits.” Minister Lloyd told graduates that through the ICT program, they have been gifted with invaluable opportunities, most of which are not common among high school students.

He pointed out that they were afforded hands-on training in the field, attained college credits, and international certifications. He noted that according to research, global information technology industry has been valued at approximately five trillion dollars to date. He added that because it is evident that the technology sector accounts for a significant portion of economic activity globally, it is even more evident that the demand for skilled workers in the field is ever growing.

“My dear graduates, you are on the road to success in a globally competitive environment,” said the Education Minister. “I was so pleased to learn that the entire class exceeded the program’s minimum requirements. Which means that all of you are now eligible to attain an Associate’s of Applied Science Degree in Information Technology management within a year, as opposed to the customary two-year span.

“Meanwhile graduates, you must realize that these certifications are a springboard for greater accomplishments. As you tap into your gifts and abilities, it is imperative that you map out a plan to achieve your goals and work towards building a sustainable future. By putting on the mindset that learning is a life-long process, coupled with a meticulous plan and with God’s help, your dream will come true.

“Let me reiterate graduates how proud I am of you and your determination to succeed. This program no doubt has laid the foundation for colossal careers in information, communication and technology. You have been equipped to become leading experts in this field.”

Also congratulating the graduates during the graduation ceremony was Minister of State for Finance, Senator Kwasi Thompson, who credited Prime Minister, Dr. Hubert Minnis for having the vision to make the program a reality. Reflecting on how the program came about, Senator Thompson recalled the day when local BTVI representatives, Yolanda Samuel-Cole (ICT Coordinator) and Anthony Ramtulla (Dean of Information Technology) met with Prime Minister Minnis and himself in the Office of the Prime Minister (GB) a few years ago.

“It was during that meeting when Ms. Collie and Mr. Anthony Ramtulla began to talk about the success the ICT college program had been,” explained Senator Thompson. “They had said that the program was so successful that all of the students who had completed the program, not only found employment, some students left the program early because they were in such high demand and were recruited by companies.

“At that time, the government was doing its summer job program and the Prime Minister suggested and planted the seed when he noted that if our high school students could be exposed to what BTVI was doing, by the time those students left high school, they would have the same kinds of opportunities when it came to employment in the field.

“So, I have to give our Honourable Prime Minister applause for having the vision to give birth to this program. I also want to thank Mrs. Cole and Mr. Ramtulla for bringing this vision to reality.” Senator Thompson said that of all of the programs the government has developed and brought on stream during the time it was in office, he said the BTVI ICT program is one that he is most proud of. He called the graduation an historic one, noting that the students represent the future of Grand Bahama as a technology hub.
Forty-nine students graduated from the program, with certification in all information, communication and technology platforms, including Linux, Python, Java-Script Programming, introduction to Cyber security and professional performances and ethics.