Every one of the 12,500 secondary school pupils in St Vincent and the Grenadines will soon have access to a computer of their own at home and school.
Tech giants Acer, Microsoft and Trend Micro have come together on the deal, which has been spearheaded by IT Pro's (and Dennis Publishing's) owner and publishing and business guru Felix Dennis.
By giving these children access to leading edge technology, the initiative aims to level the playing field and help inspire and encourage the next generation while also boosting the local economy of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The scheme can be traced back to last summer when the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, made contact with Felix about how best to put state-of-the-art hardware and software into the hands of local children. Together, the two discussed and embarked on plans to provide a secure environment - in the form of the classroom - for children to unleash their creativity and hone their business and other skills.
Felix instructed a team at Dennis Publishing - which is the UK's largest publisher of technology titles - to bring the scheme to life, whilst ensuring criteria such as usage, longevity and security were met. Manageability of the technology was also key and it needed to free from the shackles of traditional IT management demands.
Industry specialist Carteme was also enlisted to help choose the right products for the job, while Westcoast - which has forged fantastic industry partnerships with the likes of Acer and Microsoft - was also brought onboard to help the scheme achieve its goals.
"This project is the result of two extraordinary partnerships; one between the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the maestro' Felix Dennis and his team at Dennis Publishing, Acer, Microsoft, and Trend Micro; and the second between my government and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela led first by Hugo Chavez and then by Nicholas Maduro which provided the financing," said Dr The Hon. Ralph Gonsalves.
"The special personal relationships between Felix, on the one hand, and between Hugo, Nicholas and me, on the other, were instrumental in putting together this amazing project. I thank them and everyone else who has been engaged in it."
Within the next two months, 12,500 Acer TravelMate laptops running Microsoft Windows 8 and equipped with Trend Micro security tools will be winging their way to the pupils.
Felix and his team plan to follow the pupils and the achievements of the scheme over the next year to see just how successful it has been in achieving its aims and transforming the life skills of the students.
"We're delighted that this scheme has come to fruition. The hope of all the partners is that this programme can demonstrate what passionate companies can do when they work together on such a worthy cause. We all hope that St Vincent and the Grenadines becomes a fantastic testimonial for what technology can do to inspire children and a new generation. We hope that this could be the start of similar programmes in the future," added Julian Lloyd-Evans, managing director of advertising at Dennis Publishing, who helped broker the deal.
"The St Vincent and the Grenadine Government, Dennis Publishing and Felix Dennis would like to personally thank Carl Oxley from Westcoast Distribution, Simon Hallworth from Carteme, and our fantastic partners at Acer, Microsoft West Indies and Trend Micro, for their patience, tenacity and help in putting this programme together."
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Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.
Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.