Minister of Education and Youth, Fayval Williams, says the Government is taking steps to ensure that children are protected from misleading information disseminated over the Internet.

The minister, who was delivering the keynote address at the recent launch of a free secured Wi-Fi hotspot for the community of Tavern, St Andrew, said a goal of the Administration is to ensure that people in all sections of the country have access to the Internet, but negative messages and lies must be countered with truths.

She said more than 150,000 computer devices have been distributed for children to access education, and that it will continue until “all our students have a device”.

The ministry said, however, has to teach safety to them while they are online, as individuals are exploiting the cyberspace for personal gains through criminality and from distorting information on the COVID-19 vaccines.

“We are going to be teaching them how to be safe while online, because there are many sites that we don’t want them to have access to,” the minister said, adding that teaching will also be done “on how to be discerning, how to know what truth is versus lies”.

“There is a lot of false information about the vaccines, and a lot of people believe it, not knowing that none of what those people are saying is true, so we have a lot of educating to do,” Williams said.

She encouraged the residents to use the Wi-Fi facility with responsibility, and where it is for fun, “make sure that it is the kind of pleasure that will enrich your lives”.

The free Internet facility was installed by the Universal Service Fund (USF), an agency of the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology. It will commission 10 new Community Access Points (CAPS) across the island by the end of February.

CAPS are Internet service facilities established in collaboration with community organisations and funded by the agency in furtherance of the Government’s Universal Service Obligation (USO).

They ensure the provision of computers and associated equipment and that Internet access is provided free of cost to communities challenged in this regard.

Since 2007, the USF has outfitted more than 300 communities with Internet service. They have a mandate to ensure access to information and communication tools, to facilitate development.

Source: Jamaica Observer