Business

MSBM in partnership to address regional digital skills training issues

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

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Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) is joining regional and international partners to research and address the challenge of the sustainable delivery of online education and digital skills training.

The project, which is being funded by the Canadian government, targets young Haitian women in both urban and rural settings, 300 of whom will be trained between 2018 and 2019 and assisted in securing online employment opportunities in overseas markets.

Titled “Ayitic Goes Global: Empowering Women through Digital Markets”, the project is a multi-dimensional initiative to provide customised training in digital/data skills, and assist in securing remote jobs in overseas markets through the establishment of a local outsourcing enterprise that congregates graduates and an active outreach strategy with the Haitian Diaspora to identify remote online job opportunities.

Dr Maurice McNaughton, director at the Centre of Excellence for IT-Enabled Innovation at the Mona School of Business and Management, regards the project as a significant research and learning opportunity, and an important catalyst for a larger “Caribbean School of Data” strategic initiative that is seeking to build a comprehensive and sustainable “data literacy” programme and a stronger data culture across the Caribbean.

The learning insights and teaching products developed from this project will be adaptable and reusable within this larger Caribbean context.

“Why not start with Haiti?” Dr McNaughton responds to the question: Why Haiti?

“Haiti is faced with extreme conditions such as high unemployment, inefficient transportation systems and severely damaged educational infrastructure from the 2010 earthquake,” he responded.

“The typical assumptions about availability of digital infrastructure and the evolution of social and cultural habits towards normative online behaviours in the digital economy are seriously challenged there. But, in many respects, the barriers to sustainable delivery of online/distance education and digital skills training in Haiti to address the growing digital divide, mirrors and exacerbates many of these broader Caribbean issues,” he added.

The current focus is on the development of competencies in a range of technical vocational skills in high demand internationally to ensure meaningful and sustainable employment outcomes for the young Haitian women beneficiaries, long after the programme's completion.

The first cohort of 50 trainees are expected to start in April 2018. However, McNaughton is already eyeing application opportunities beyond the project setting.

MSBM, a founding member of the Caribbean Open Institute (COI), is part of a multipartner coalition that includes: Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), Slashroots Foundation, and l'Ecole Supérieure d'Infotronique D'Haïti (ESIH), the local partner in Haiti.

MSBM manages the COI component of the project through a Research Grant of C$280,000 from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.

The school will focus on the design and development of competency-based, highly interactive, responsive, and multilingual e-Learning objects that explore the limits of “technology-enabled pedagogical innovations in resource-constrained environments”.

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