By Isanella Patoir
Two Brothers Technology Center located in Annai, North Rupununi is one of the small businesses making a big impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. The business was launched four years ago and initially only provided printing and photocopying services.
The business, owned and operated by two brothers – Bernie Robertson and Joel Ali – has now grown into a much-needed training and information technology research center for teachers and students.
Robertson, during an interview with the Newsroom on Thursday, said for many years that students and teachers in the Rupununi were struggling to access basic technology. While an internet service was also provided, Robertson explained that the bandwidth and connection were extremely slow.
For students writing Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) exams, the services offered by Two Brothers are a welcome relief. Previously, parents had to travel miles to Lethem to access these services.
But because of COVID-19, Robertson explained that they have to cut back on how many people can use the center.
“Currently only grades 10 and 11 [are] go back to school and those are students who are currently using the service, ”said Robertson.
He said that with residents’ desire to learn basic typing skills, the business was transformed into a teaching and learning center two years ago. Robertson explained that a six-month training program has been developed and so far two batches of students have graduated.
“After a year of doing the business, parents, teachers and students from all over North Rupununi approached us and said why we can’t offer a training program for students and teachers or for those who want to learn to use computers and we about it. So, after that, we developed a program and launched it.
The center not only benefits Annai residents but neighboring villages as well.
“… It’s changed a lot of things here and the way students do their school work and their teachers too.”
After the pandemic struck Guyana in March 2020, the brothers closed their business for six months but reopened in November. Robertson said the training program is continuing but they have to adapt to the COVID-19 protocols and are now offering two sessions a day.
In addition to information technology training, the center also offers training in leadership skills, gender equality and women empowerment. Robertson said they have also provided educational trips to primary schools throughout North Rupununi but this has since been delayed due to COVID-19. A typing competition was also held among the first two batches of students last year.
The center works in conjunction with the Amerindian Affairs and Education Ministries as well as the Regional Democratic Council of Region Nine.
Robertson and Ali are trained in video production, photography and information technology and share their knowledge with the students.