A Winning Public/Private Sector
Community Technology Initiative
WIRED ISLAND NETWORK
Since 2000, Briland Modem Fund, Rotary Club East Nassau, IBM Nassau, and local government councils in Eleuthera have collaborated to develop and manage active community computer centres in Harbour Island; Bluff, Eleuthera; Gregory Town, Eleuthera; Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera; Rock Sound, Eleuthera; and Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera.
Our team supports developmental education resource rooms in Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, Harbour Island, and North Eleuthera all-age schools; and supplies computers to Dunmore School on Harbour Island. Our collaboration continues with the development of vocational rehab centres at Fox Hill Prison in Nassau, and in the stressed neighbourhoods served by the Farm Road Project, St. Anselm's and St. Cecilia's centres in New Providence.
Given the success of the network to date, we are proud to announce the Wired Island Network initiative, and herald its intent to build additional centres throughout the Out Islands of the Bahamas, and continue to develop community centres in several empowerment zones in Nassau.
Computer access and training is critical for success in today's business environment. The Commonweath of the Bahamas is a stable, developing nation with an economy based on tourism and offshore banking: tourism accounts for 60% of the Gross Domestic Product and employs 40% of the national labor force. (CIA: The World Factbook 2000) With the rapidly growing conversion of business operations to computer-based infrastructures, it is more critical than ever that computer literacy programs address the growing need of computer education in the Bahamas.
Initial Rollout, Year 2000
The communities of Harbour Island and North and South Eleuthera are rural, island communities, approximately 90 miles from Nassau , the nation's capital. Local, public access to computer education programs did not exist prior to the launch of the Briland Modem Fund Community Computer Centre project in 1999, forcing those who desired computer training to travel to Nassau or the United States , often at great expense. With the implementation of the Community Computer Centre Program in tandem with local government councils throughout the island, children and adults residing in the rural island communities of Harbour Island and North and South Eleuthera had access to computer equipment and training without having to relocate to the urban centers. Computer training provides long-term professional alternatives to individuals who might otherwise spend a lifetime in a low wage, service profession such as housekeeping or landscaping for the tourism industry.
Program Goals and Expected Outcomes
The immediate goal of the Briland Modem Fund's computer literacy program was to provide computer access and training to all local residents of Harbour Island and North and South Eleuthera, Bahamas. The community computer centres provide after school computer training classes for community children, and adult computer literacy training. The initial waiting list for adult education classes on Harbour Island alone originally extended nine months, demonstrating the phenomenal interest in demand for such a program. Anticipated outcome of the computer literacy program is to provide computer training and access to all community children, and to provide computer training and access to all adults who desire such learning. Support of local government councils in such endeavors has been tremendous; founding Commissioner Rufus Johnson stated that efforts will not cease “until everyone on the island knows how to use a computer!” Given the popularity of these successful public/private sector initiatives throughout Eleuthera, plans are underway to extend the program's footprint throughout the southern Out Islands of the Bahamas.
Additional ongoing programs supported by the Wired Island Network:
Exceptional Education Outreach – Eleuthera and Harbour Island special education program and All Age School, Harbour Island; Harbour Island Arts & Crafts Wood Workshop; Tarpum Bay Public Library [Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera]; Carey After School Project [Rock Sound, Eleuthera]; Bluff Community Centre/ Library [Bluff, Eleuthera]; Hatchet Bay After School Computer Program [Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera]; The Dunmore School [Harbour Island]; North Eleuthera After School Computer Program [Bluff, Eleuthera]; The Briland Fire Truck [ongoing fundraising and promotion] project; Briland Park harbourside renovation [ongoing fundraising and promotion] project; Lighthouse Church of God computer centre; Briland ArtsWalk quarterly local artists showcase.
Description and Timeline of Program Activities
Program activities and efforts are ongoing, as there is a continuing need to provide updated computer equipment, software and training for program activities. The Harbour Island Community Computer Center, the Fund's first project, opened in April 2000 at the newly-renovated fire station at the Gaol Lane complex, with two state-of-the art IBM Personal Computers, one color printer and ten 133MhZ Pentium computers. Given the immense popularity of the centre, local government then moved the centre to the Sir George S. Roberts Memorial Library, where it flourished until July 2004. The Bluff Community; Hatchet Bay; Rock Sound Computer Centers opened in available local government spaces throughout Eleuthera. The Briland Modem Fund has since received requests from local government councils throughout North and South Eleuthera and the southern Out Islands to assist in funding community-based computer programs, and its corporate sponsors in Nassau , the U.K. and the U.S. are currently working to fill the need for adequate hardware, software and networking opportunities throughout the Out Islands .
The population of North and South Eleuthera and Harbour Island is approximately 10,500 (Bahamas 1990 census). Age structure of the population is approximately 30% aged 0-14 years, 64% aged 15-64 years, and 6% aged 65 or older (CIA FactBook 2000).
Program success will be based upon the development of community computer resources throughout Harbour Island, Eleuthera and their continued expansion throughout the Out Islands of the Bahamas, which will enable all residents of the rural island communities to gain much needed and desired training and fluency in computer skills, enabling the population of these islands greater access to local professional career opportunities.
The Briland Modem Fund, managing partner of the community computer centre network, continues to solicit donations from private sources and grant programs to meet the needs of the computer literacy program. Private donations, which are tax-deductible under U.S. law, have already enabled us to open the existing community computer centres, and donations of equipment and supplies from private donors are on-going.
Our generous sponsors to date include the local government councils of Harbour Island and Eleuthera, Briland.com, IBM Nassau, Amoury Company, Royal Bank of Canada, Rotary Club East Nassau, Providence Technology Group, Daybreak Eleuthera, Wadsworth Holdings Ltd., Higgs Construction and Bahamas Ferries.
History of the Fund
The Briland Modem located at www.briland.com is the premiere island news and information resource by and for Harbour Island and North Eleuthera, Bahamas. The Briland Modem was launched in 1999 to serve as an online community portal for all local businesses, school and library outlets, historical and cultural resources, resorts, aviation and marine resources, fishing charters, travel information, and airline and ferry connection updates, and the message board at www.briland.com is a popular online meeting room for Brilanders all over the world. Its not-for-profit 501(c)(3) Briland Modem Fund was launched in 2000 in order to focus on the ongoing development and management of educational, arts and business resources for the Harbour Island and Eleuthera area.
For more information, please contact:
Kimberly King-Burns, executive director
Briland Modem Fund
Herve Kelecom, president
Rotary Club East Nassau
U.S. office: 10153 Riverside Drive, Suite 244
Toluca Lake CA 91602 USA
Tel: 818 761 5688/Fax 818 761 0024
Bahamas : Post Office Box 23
Harbour Island , Bahamas
Tel: 242 333 2882/Fax 818 450 0385