Gov’t must do more for rural development, says Phillips
MILE GULLY, Manchester:
Member of Parliament for Manchester North Western Mikael Phillips is appealing to the Government to drive rural development by not only creating programmes, but by providing the resources for sustainability.
He indicated that among the need for water, improved road surfaces and electricity in rural spaces, access to consistent and efficient Internet service is now chief among them.
“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 in his constituency, made possible through the initiative of the Universal Service Fund (USF), believes deep rural areas should be given more attention. The USF is to establish 189 hotspots across Jamaica by March.
“Even though the Government, through the USF, is making these community connectivity locations available, the next step for us, which was announced by Minister [Daryl] Vaz in his last sectoral presentation, is looking at how we are going to get that connectivity into deeper rural communities.”
With the pandemic seemingly here to stay for an indeterminate length of time, Phillips believes this should be an indicator to adopt a greater reliance on the technology in order to access services that have been pushed into the virtual space.
“We are going to continue to have the blended approach to education, and if our students don’t get connectivity at home, it is OK at the school. But it is no use to the students if they have no connectivity in their homes or the communities that they live in. That is going to be an essential part of our rural development going further into the 21st century,” Phillips said.
In addition to Mile Gully, the communities of Huntley and Greenvale will be part of the phase one Wi-Fi installation project in the constituency.
According to Phillips, the communities of Comfort Hall, Free Town and Hatfield have been suggested for phase two of the Wi-Fi installation.
“We are attempting, in each of these communities where we have a Wi-Fi hotspot, to put in a homework centre. We will be working with the Mile Gully community club to develop a homework centre for the students, because until we get that connectivity in the communities, we want a safe space for our students.”
Phillips added: “We have to look at rural development, not only 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 growing.”