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News Article

August 19, 2014
Red-hot cause

From 1985, the year the first clinical case of AIDS was identified in The Bahamas, up to December 31, 2012, The Bahamas has had a cumulative total of 12,712 reported HIV infections; 8,186 of those infected persons are believed to have been living with the illness at the end of 2012, according to the UN AIDS Global AIDS Response Progress Report Country Report at March 31, 2014, prepared by the Ministry of Health and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).While funding for national HIV/AIDS initiatives comes primarily from the government, support for specific initiatives comes from a variety of partners, one of which is the AIDS Foundation of The Bahamas. It is this organization that is gearing up to host the return of the glamorous charity fashion show and cocktail reception known as The Red Dress Soiree, a fundraiser to support the outreach program for adolescents infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. It's a program that provides a safe and nurturing environment where youths receive assistance through three components -- academics, psychosocial intervention and medical treatment.Through its outreach program the AIDS Foundation of The Bahamas provides tutors to help the students with homework assignments and gives them access to computers for schoolwork research; a social worker and case aide also support the teenagers with everything from getting to the clinic, to picking up report cards, to counseling and job preparation skills. The program also works closely with the National HIV/AIDS Program, which refers the participants to the AIDS Foundation program. The beneficiaries are also able to receive a hot meal five times per week.The Red Dress Soiree, which honors successful women who are at the top of their careers and who have impacted Bahamian society in positive ways, will pair 14 women with Bahamian designers to create a red dress or red ensemble that will be showcased by the women on Saturday, September 20 in the ballroom at the British Colonial Hilton at 6:30 p.m. One hundred percent of proceeds raised from the Red Dress Soiree, including funds from ticket sales pegged at $100 as well as the silent auction, will go toward the work of the Bahamas AIDS Foundation to benefit the outreach program.The Red Dress Soiree was staged in 2012 for the first time and organized by Tyrina Neely. It was so successful that the foundation wanted to do it again in 2013, but Neely was unable to. Bahamas AIDS Foundation President Lady Camille Barnett asked Neely if the AIDS Foundation could take over the event. Neely agreed, promising to help when she could."What I love about the Red Dress Soiree is that it's not only a fundraiser, but we're recognizing women in the community who are successful in whatever they're doing and some of the women are humanitarians. We're also recognizing Bahamian designers and highlighting the incredible creativity of our Bahamian designers," said Barnett.The women and designersThe women committed to walking the catwalk for charity this year include Lady Joan Foulkes, Dr. Nicolette Bethel, Alexandra Maillis-Lynch, Inga Bowleg, Pat Walters, Dr. Tracey Halkitis, Karen Carey, Eldece Clarke, Lisa Sawyer-McCartney, Candia Dames, Antoinette Russell, Patrice Ellis, Amanda Lindroth and Marisa Mason-Smith.Participating designers include Brynda Knowles, Jeff St. John, Fenna Mae Lopez, Sabrina Francis, Judy Deleveaux, Theodore Ellyett, Phylicia Ellis, David Rolle, Apryl Burrows, Indira Moss, Kathy Pinder, Patrice Lockhart, Javotte Bethel and Rachel Garcia.In selecting who would take to the catwalk, Barnett said the foundation chose categories and named four people in each category; a committee then made the final selection. Proceeds from the silent auction from the first Red Dress Soiree went to the foundation. Approximately $20,000 was raised. Barnett is hoping to raise at least $20,000 this year. She said it costs approximately $2,000 per person per year in the AIDS Foundation's program. Raising $20,000 would cover the costs for 10 individuals. The Bahamas AIDS Foundation currently serves 80 kids and teenagers.The Bahamas AIDS Foundation's outreach program, which is in its fifth year, was started after members became aware of HIV positive youths who weren't taking their medications. As a result, the children were getting sick and were constantly in and out of hospital. After a few teenagers died, she said they had to do something. The AIDS Foundation decided on an afterschool academic program to engage with the young people. It was their hope that once the children and teenagers became familiar with the afterschool program, they would then try to tackle some of the psychosocial issues concerning taking their medication."We started out with one person and we actually have 80 young people registered in the program," said Barnett. "Not all of our kids come to the afterschool program. On any given day we may have anywhere from 19 to 23 young people actually coming for the afterschool segment of it. Some of the kids, the social worker works with them outside of the program for whatever reason they don't want to come. Or maybe some of them are out of school, but we still work with them and try to help them," she said.The AIDS Foundation's social worker also goes out to clinics whenever they're held to offer support to the young people and invite them to be a part of the outreach program.In 2012, the number of people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS was 383. Of those cases, 293 were newly reported HIV infections, including persons newly diagnosed with AIDS at the time of HIV diagnosis or within the same year as the HIV diagnosis. Over half of the new infections reported in 2012 were among males. Persons aged 15 to 24 accounted for 17 percent of newly reported infections, while persons aged 25 to 44 years made up 50 percent of cases. Ninety-one percent of persons diagnosed in 2012 resided in New Providence, five percent in Grand Bahama and one percent in Eleuthera. Forty-nine percent of newly diagnosed infections in 2012 were among males, while females accounted for 51 percent of cases."With the adolescent program, it's not only the kids who are infected, but those who are affected as well, because when you're in a household and someone is HIV positive, it affects everybody in that household, even if it's the mother, because she may be hospitalized frequently. Then there's this big secret because we don't want anybody outside of our family, even some members of the family, you don't want to know that you're HIV positive. We felt it was important to include those kids who are affected as well in our program, especially if they're looking after that person -- if it's their mom, they're missing days of school, so they are placed at a disadvantage as well," said Barnett.Education is keyThe AIDS Foundation also assists with education. Even though the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS is not as bad as it was a decade ago, Barnett said it's still there, and education about how HIV/AIDS can and cannot be contracted has to be continuous. According to Barnett, even with the efforts to make education and information available to the public, there are still too many women who do not seek prenatal care until it's too late. She also said there are people in denial who do not take their medication or do not take [the medication] as they should, daily."They say on average three percent of the population is HIV/AIDS positive, and that's a whole lot of people -- and some persons don't even know that they're HIV positive because they don't have any symptoms as they're not sick, they're carriers, and don't know that they're passing it onto someone else," she said.When the Bahamas AIDS Foundation started, its goal was to cater to teenagers from 13 to 18. Today, Barnett has found that the organization is catering to children as young as eight and as old as 23."We're seeing actually a shift in our program from kids who are in school to having more and more kids who are out of school and looking for work. So we're trying to provide them with job skills and job training to help them find jobs," she said.It is funds raised from events like The Red Dress Soiree that go toward helping the foundation do its work; Barnett and the foundation's team are excited to stage the second soiree and raise as much as they can, while at the same time honoring Bahamian women and fashion designers."There are so many fabulous women in our society doing fabulous things, and we just need to recognize them," she said. A new component to the Red Dress Soiree will be the creation of a 2015 calendar, which will be shot by photographer Scharad Lightbourne, featuring the women in red along with their designers."I am so excited about the calendar [which] was the brainchild of Brynda Knowles," said Barnett. "Tyrina had also thought about it but didn't do it in 2012, and when we put the idea to Scharad, he was excited. The women and their designers will be photographed at Sapodilla Estates. Barnett is hoping the calendars will be ready by the AIDS Foundation Ball in November.The Bahamas AIDS Foundation is a non-profit, non-government organization dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS in The Bahamas. Its mission is to support the fight against HIV/AIDS in the community; provide education and awareness; assist in the prevention, treatment and cure and provide support for people living with HIV/AIDS.The Bahamas AIDS Foundation was established in 1992 by the Zonta Club of Nassau. The club's members were approached by Dr. Perry Gomez, director of the national AIDS Program, to establish the organization to assist in the fight against HIV/AIDS.Tickets for the Red Dress Soiree are available from Carlyne Smith-McKenzie, executive director of the Bahamas AIDS Foundation located on Delancy Street, telephone 325-9326/7 or can be ordered by email from aidsfoundationbahamas@yahoo.com.

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News Article

July 30, 2012
West-end project to generate 400 jobs

As a host of retail shops and restaurants sign the dotted line, the 21.5-acre commercial development in western New Providence is expected to generate close to 400 jobs when completed.
The multimillion-dollar Old Fort Bay Town Centre project has now entered the second phase of construction. According to Jane-Michele Bethel, sales and marketing manager at New Providence Development Company Limited (NPDC), all tenants will start interior buildings by the end of September, if not before.
An interior design store, spa, nutritional beverage company and a veterinarian have made commitments, while a sports store, computer shop and two boutiques have reserved spaces.
This second phase already joins an already extensive list of shops now taking up tenancy in phase one.
Bethel provided Guardian Business with no less than 10 establishments either open or in the process of outfitting their stories. Included in the list is the first restaurant at Old Fort Bay Town Centre - Sushi ROKKAN.
"Sushi ROKKAN will have a modern Japanese interior design, approximately 60 seats, including a comfortable sushi bar and outside patio seating. They will serve traditional sushi, sashimi, appetizers, charbroiled grilled meats (Japanese style) and seasonal signature dishes. All to be enjoyed with a huge sake selection," she noted.
The second restaurant to be included in the project's first phase has committed to signing a lease soon, with a planned opening date of November or December. A third restaurant has yet to be selected. Royal Bank of Canada also broke ground on their pad to the west of the Old Fort Bay Town Centre roundabout last week. Its anticipated opening date is set for Spring 2013.
In phase two, Bethel said stores will have 60 days to complete their build-outs, and restaurants have 90 days. As for phase one, Bahamas Design Centre, featuring indoor/outdoor furniture and home accessories, and The Gallery at Old Fort, are both set to open next month. HIS Fashion, stocking brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Nautica and Kenneth Cole of New York, has proposed a September opening date. The Keg Ranch liquor store and Going Places Travel are working on a similar timeline.
Sat Sound and Benetton are two retail spaces that are already open. Your Friendly Pharmacy is set open its doors at a later date.
The entire project, comprising seven one-acre pads, two anchor stores, and just under 60,000 square feet of retail and office commercial space, is expected to employ between 375 and 400 people.
"The degree of investment from the business community is of a very high caliber and we expect to see some spectacularly well designed stores, and a good variety and complementary mix of products and services," Bethel added.

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News Article

July 20, 2011
Quote of the Week - Staying Afloat

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News Article

December 05, 2013
Micronet expands store, adds staff

Micronet, a New Providence-based regional technology leader, marks its 30th anniversary this month, celebrating with a reception for long-standing clients and the official unveiling of its new 11,500 plus square foot super store and service facility.
The company that has grown exponentially over the decades is a quiet success story that parallels the growth of the fast-changing technology industry it serves.
Three decades ago, it opened with two full-time employees in a small space in the Out Island Traders Building off Mackey Street. Back then, storage capacity was measured in kilobytes (KB); a computer with 160KB was cutting edge, and word processing was done on typewriters.
Now, Micronet occupies two buildings, boasts nearly three dozen staff and asserts that its multilevel retail superstore rivals top-of-the-line competitors anywhere.
"We all take for granted the wonderful technology we enjoy today like the Apple iPad or the HP Ultrabook, technology that was unheard of 30 years ago," said Stephen Cartwright, tech co-founder and current CEO of Micronet.
"But that technology changes so fast that unlike in many businesses, where you have the luxury of reviewing new products every season, in our business you can go to sleep at night and when you wake in the morning, there's something new on the market that makes yesterday's hottest device feel as outdated as the rotary dial phone. You either keep up or you get left behind, and at the same time, you also have to remain focused on consistent customer service."
Cartwright's all-Bahamian staff of 35 include industry-certified technicians. "We are very proud of our new facilities, but more importantly, we are extremely proud of our dedicated staff, including our 15 certified technicians," said Gregory Pinder, general manager of Micronet. Not being afraid to grow and to invest in training has allowed Micronet to emerge as the only authorized Apple service provider in The Bahamas. It is also among the regional leaders in technology sales and service for Toshiba, HP, Apple, Lenovo and Microsoft.
"Creating a true technology superstore has been our goal and we are excited about this major expansion that allows us to serve clients in a way that we have always envisioned," said Micronet Marketing Manager Adriano Baldacci.
"As for the store itself, we wanted it to reflect modern style that blends futuristic with professional in design but would facilitate personal interaction and comfort. Successful Apple stores have a lively, upbeat feeling with a clean look and that's what we were after right here in Palmdale in the heart of Nassau. We wanted people to feel comfortable trying before they decided to buy. Our full line of laptops, iPads, Mac books and desktops are out on display for customers to come in and test out."
This expansion is "powerful for businesses", Baldacci said.
"We're a one stop shop for technology for everyone from the individual to the country's largest company or institution."

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News Article

September 07, 2011
Custom Computers A's for Excellence Continues to make a Difference in Improving Education in The Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas - Continuing in its tradition of
rewarding excellence in education, Custom Computers teamed up this year with The Hewlett-Packard Company to
present brand new computers to the winners of its Fourth Annual A's For
Excellence Awards Competition on Saturday, September 3rd, at its
Cable Beach Location. The promotion which started earlier this year, allowed
students throughout the Bahamas who received at least one 'A' grade on their
final report card, a chance to win the prizes donated by HP.

On hand for the presentation this
year were the Minister of Education, the Honourable Desmond Bannister, and Mr.
Polo Sanchez, Sales Manager for Hewlett-Packard...

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October 20, 2010
Quote of the Week - Labouring under Labels

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News Article

May 16, 2013
Strong demand for smart phones

Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) executives are seeing a demand for smart phones from their customers and expect the growth in this market to continue
"We have seen quite a lot of our customers purchasing smart phones. It has become quite a phenomenon since there is a such wide variety of smart phones that are available now," according to Alphanique Duncombe, BTC's product manager for wireless.
"We have seen the demand coming from the local market after BTC started to offer a lot more phones because of their design and functionality. Before launching the 4G technology in December, BTC carried of a lot of basic handsets. Now, coupled with advertising and a rise in the U.S. market, we have seen the demand locally.
"People are realizing the importance of mobility and the ability to do several things on your phone. You need to be able to check your emails on the go. Bahamians are really starting to see the need to have a smart phone. You can't live without it."
Duncombe pointed out to Guardian Business that BTC has seen a significant increase in its number of data subscribers as a result of its 4G launch back in December 2012.
"Every month, we see it going up so we expect to see continuous growth. We have LTE coming up, more demand is there because you don't just want to be mobile but you want everything fast," she said.
"You want to be able to have the same experiences you would have sitting in front of the computer. Once we are able to bring that to the customers, there is no need for the computer anymore. Everything is pretty much done on your device."
"Our data subscribers have risen incredibly and it's continuing to rise now."
In fact, Duncombe revealed to Guardian Business that just in the month of December, BTC sold between 15,000 to 20,000 phones, and most of them were smart phones. She believes those figures can give an idea of how great the smart phone "phenomenon" has been for the telecommunications company.
"We'll definitely see an increase in sales because most of our devices, especially the ones that are coming out next quarter, are in fact smart phones. There will be a new range of handsets that are coming out in the next quarter," she added.
"The smart phones are more affordable in comparison to the last year where you would have had to pay $500 plus for a smart phone. Now you're able to get an android device for $99 so customers nowadays are opting to buy smart phones as opposed to a basic phone that can't really do much."
In March, BTC forecasted a 40 percent "uplift" in data traffic this year after registering an 81 percent explosion in the smart phone usage for 2012.
BTC is targeting both the high-end smart phone market and an even more expansive entry-level market.
The result is far more data usage and ultimately higher revenue for BTC.

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News Article

May 11, 2014
Fueling alarm and confusion

The alarm over aragonite is reaching a fever pitch.
A coalition of pastors, union leaders and civil society activists has been making the rounds on talk shows, demanding that the government negotiate higher royalties for aragonite, a unique mineral with a wide range of uses.
At a press conference in Rawson Square last Tuesday, National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas President John Pinder estimated that the government could pocket as much as $300 million per month, or $4.2 billion a year, if it renegotiated the royalties to no less than $350 per metric ton.
The government currently receives $2 per metric ton on aragonite exported from Ocean Cay, just south of Bimini.
The figures quoted by Pinder are significant amounts.
The coalition also says in its fact sheet being circulated that the Bahamian aragonite operation has the potential to be a multi-trillion-dollar industry.
President of Sandy Cay Development Co. Limited Tony Myers, whose company has a 25-year lease from the Bahamas government, said they are selling on average at $12 per metric ton -- far from the $900 figure we keep hearing from the coalition.
At the press conference last week, Pinder was supported by Dwight Smith, chairman of the Police Staff Association; Gregory Archer, president of the Prison Staff Association; members of the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition, and other activists who claim the royalty portion of the agreement between Sandy Cay and the government is up for renewal next month.
We asked Pinder on Friday where the numbers he quoted came from.
While Pinder was the spokesman at the press conference, he told us he did not personally do the research and advised us to speak to Wesley Campbell, who he said is the researcher for the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition.
But a seemingly irritated Campbell refused to speak to National Review yesterday.
He angrily accused us of "deceiving" the coalition's chairman, Rev. Andrew Stewart, by failing to provide him with a copy of the lease between Sandy Cay and the government.
Campbell said the failure of National Review to turn over the lease to the coalition was deceptive because the coalition had previously provided National Review with information as part of its probe into the aragonite issue.
While Campbell refused to speak to us, Stewart did so on Friday night.
We questioned him about the information his group has put into the public domain.
Stewart said the coalition has a research team that has done a lot of work.
We asked him about the coalition's claim in a fact sheet that the lease between Sandy Cay and the government of The Bahamas is "renewable every two years" and was granted by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government.
He insisted this was a fact.
When informed by National Review that the lease was signed under the Ingraham administration and does not speak to renewal every two years, Stewart said this statement by the coalition had been based on an "assumption".
We found this admission simply unbelievable.
Asked whether the coalition leaders have read the lease, Stewart admitted that they had not and asked National Review if he could have a copy.
We then committed to asking our source whether this would be possible.
We believe the coalition was confused by a letter written by Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister David Davis on June 3, 2010 to H. Campbell Cleare III, the attorney for Sandy Cay.
In that letter, Davis advised Sandy Cay that it could recommence its aragonite operation while a new lease was negotiated. Sandy Cay bought the old lease in 2009 from AES Corporation, which operated at Ocean Cay and unsuccessfully sought to get approval from the Bahamas government for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) operation.
The government signed a 25-year lease with Sandy Cay on April 20, 2012.
The lease signed with Sandy Cay provides for "a royalty computed as B$2 per ton for demised mineral exported from The Bahamas encompassing the first five years of the lease, after which the royalty shall be computed as 10 percent of the sales price, with a minimum fee of B$2 per ton up to a maximum fee of B$12 per ton for demised mineral exported from The Bahamas".
The lease was backdated to June 3, 2010 when negotiations began.
Admission
After admitting that the coalition is agitating even though it has not read the lease, Stewart said the fact that the lease is not up for renewal adds strength to the coalition's argument.
"It's unthinkable to us that the lease would have been a mere blanket 25-year lease and after over 40 years having been renewed by successive governments periodically, for the government to just give them a 25-year blanket," said Stewart, who also could not prove that the government previously agreed to leases renewable every three years.
The government's former lease for Ocean Cay had no such provision either.
"What our assumption was, not seeing as you have seen the 2012 lease, having only had in our possession the 2010 lease, we assumed that it was renewed somewhere around the anniversary of the 2010 year lease," Stewart explained.
But again, there was no 2010 lease, just a letter written by the government to Sandy Cay allowing the operation to resume while the negotiations for a new lease took place.
Stewart told National Review, "We stand corrected that it is the FNM government and that it is not this government" that negotiated the lease.
He added, "Having discovered that now and having that verified it's a far more horrendous position that the Bahamian people find themselves in than we had ever imagined. Our research department just gave the daily cost on the world market."
Myers, the Sandy Cay president, provided an invoice showing that one of his latest shipments had a cost of $12.50 per metric ton.
Asked whether the coalition has taken into consideration that aragonite has significant add-on value after it is processed by U.S. companies that buy from Ocean Cay, Stewart said, "We recognize that there are layers of costs and pricing, but world market price first cost, our research department has discovered that $900 is a figure."
After further questions from National Review, Stewart also admitted that the coalition never reached out to Sandy Cay to ask questions on what the company is doing or how much it sells aragonite for.
Incredibly, he also admitted that the coalition has not had conversations with the government over a matter it has been making so many demands about.
After it was explained to him that the lease is not up for renewal, Stewart said the government could still act in the interest of the Bahamian people.
"We feel that the government is the influential bargaining agent that can influence or with the stroke of a pen change these arrangements," said Stewart, insisting the coalition has "professional research".
He added, "The Bahamian aragonite is the most sought after aragonite in the world because it is of the highest quality."
Further explaining why the coalition has acted without reading the current lease for aragonite harvesting that exists, Stewart said, "The whole issue with regard to our natural resources has been a private issue in the Office of the Prime Minister.
"Facts are not easy to come by, and for us to have gotten this far, I think we have done a yeoman's job. And in fact, one must remember that we are operating without the Freedom of Information Act.
"Once we have that it wouldn't be like pulling teeth. And so, we have come this far by faith and we trudge on ahead in seeking to inform the Bahamian people."
Irresponsible
We agree with Stewart on the need for the long-discussed Freedom of Information Act.
While we see wisdom in discussing the aragonite issue and whether the Bahamian people are getting what they deserve, we abhor discussions fuelled by misinformation, incomplete information and emotions.
This is counter productive to what those leading the cause might be seeking to achieve, and it may create disharmony.
The so-called facts being put in the public domain are fuelling hysteria and a great deal of confusion.
The coalition should be embarrassed that it is making claims in the absence of all the facts.
It is riling the emotions of the public although it has not read the aragonite lease.
It is speaking -- by the admission of its chairman -- based on an "assumption".
This is highly irresponsible.
It has not spoken to the principal of the company harvesting aragonite.
It has not had discussions with the government on this matter.
Union President John Pinder trusted the "research" of the Bahamas National Citizens Coalition.
Pinder said revenue from increased aragonite royalties could be used to pay every Bahamian at least $50,000 within 18 months of adjusting the terms.
He said this could significantly drive down crime and bring prosperity for all Bahamians.
Pinder aligned his good name with what the coalition presented to him, and did so with the backing of both the police and prison staff associations.
We wonder if the coalition knows how easy it is to access the lease it has not seen.
We respectfully urge our fellow citizens to be careful how they accept information without doing their own research.
We have reported the results of our initial research into this matter.
We do not take the side of Sandy Cay, but it is important to give it a voice in this national debate and that is why we contacted its principal, Tony Myers.
It is why we asked him to allow us to see his company's invoices.
Review
Last week, Minister of Environment Kenred Dorsett said successive governments have "not been aggressive" enough when negotiating royalties for aragonite.
He also said the former administration signed off on an aragonite royalty of $2 per metric ton, even though it initially wanted a figure of between $12 and $15.
The minister also suggested the deal is being reviewed.
"We are looking at those issues to make sure the people get what they are entitled to in terms of their fair share of the revenue associated with extracting those natural resources."
Dorsett advised that a Cabinet sub-committee was formed a few months ago to address this matter.
It is clear that the government should play a stronger role in bringing a more temperate approach to this debate.
We make no statement on whether the government is getting fair royalties.
If in fact there is a review taking place, we hope, and we assume that the government is making use of its scientific and technical experts to drive the process.
Clearly, there is also a need for public education on this matter.
The government should make a full and clear statement, as opposed to ambiguous statements not thoroughly considered.
In driving this discussion, all involved should do so responsibly -- the government, the media and civil society.
This matter has reached a point where the spread of misinformation has had a huge impact on many people now demanding the government renegotiate royalties.
In a democracy, agitation is good.
But in the absence of facts, it could be dangerous.
Its outcome can only be positive if it is done responsibly.

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News Article

March 19, 2014
Building teacher confidence and competence

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has taken steps to ensure that the $4.2 million invested in information communication technology (ICT) in public schools throughout the country achieves its objective of equipping students to participate in a globally competitive and technological world. A Tech Round Robin training workshop was held for public and private school teachers recently at the T. G. Glover Primary School on Horseshoe Drive.
Minister of Education, Science and Technology Jerome Fitzgerald told the 120 teachers that it was critical to have qualified teachers in every school who are able to give the ICT tools purpose as there are still some teachers who were hesitant about using technology in their lessons. He said the Tech Round Robin was necessary to provide exposure and understanding of modern and emerging instructional technology tools.
Another objective of the workshop was to build the confidence and competence of educational leaders and teachers through exposure to technology integration.
"I like using the whiteboard because my teacher can download lessons right on the board and we can participate more," said T.G. Glover sixth grade student Malique Smith.
Some of the benefits the ministry hopes students would derive from the effective integration of technology in schools included them taking greater ownership of their learning; improved academic performance and being more engaged, reenergized and more motivated to learn. It is also anticipated that disruptive behavior, absenteeism, and dropout rates would diminish.
Held under the theme "Understanding How ICT is Transforming Education", the two-day forum was organized by the INSPIRE (Investing in Students and Programmes for the Innovative Reform of Education) Unit of the ministry headed by Dr. Karen St. Cyr and Faye Bascom, the ICT coordinator.
Funded by a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, the project is the largest and most successful technology initiative undertaken to date by the government of The Bahamas.
From August 2012 to December 2013, the INSPIRE project has infused significant technology into 76 primary through secondary public schools and upgraded 100 percent of all junior and high school computer labs along with supporting many specialized areas within the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
James Griffin, principal of Lauderdale Lakes Middle School in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, told the educators during the forum to "dream the impossible" if they wanted to advance in the technological world. He spoke to them about his experiences with using ICT to transform schools under his leadership from failing schools to schools where students realized significant improvement in their academics and were motivated to learn.
Griffin said that although he has secured hundreds of thousands of technology equipment for his schools, he learnt that if teachers did not embrace his vision, the investment was futile and prohibitive to change.
He said he overcame the problem by networking with another school that had successfully integrated technology into their curriculum. Through virtual teaching sessions with his institution and the other school, he said the result of the networking was his teachers and students developed a greater appreciation for technology.
Griffin told the Bahamian educators that his initial success with networking with a school in his district led him to explore a similar opportunity with a school in the United Kingdom. And that the arrangement allowed the students in his school in Florida to learn the same lessons the same time as a class in Britain. He said such an arrangement could address The Bahamas' shortage of specialized teachers and even the global limitation of specialist teachers.
"Technology will allow the best pre-calculus teacher, or any other teacher, to teach multiple classes in The Bahamas and around the world. There will be no need for a physical teacher with technology at our disposal," said Griffin.
While the education ministry focused on teacher training, Griffin also recommended that training should include students since they are able to grasp technology faster and without the use of a manual.
The Florida-based principal said it was his desire to be the "modern day Martin Luther King Jr." in education in Florida that drove him to lobby for change in his schools. He was the recipient of the Florida Principal of the Year Award.
Representatives from Promethean, manufacturers of active whiteboards, were also at the workshop to demonstrate the latest ICT tools for schools.
Timothy Pinder, a sales and support representative with the Armoury Company, the local distributor of the active whiteboards, showcased a new ICT learning tool, the Active Table, which was a hit with T. G. Glover students.
Pinder noted that a teacher was able to assign six students to work together at a table and later to access their literacy, science and mathematical skills from the feedback the table provided.
Immediately after the tables were programmed, students were excitedly playing educational games, performing tasks and using tablets and cell phones.
Malique said she preferred learning with technology because it is faster and more interesting.
"Technology makes learning fun," said the sixth grade student. It was a sentiment echoed by her peers Kendra Phillipe, Ian Ingraham and Steven Whymns.
Also presenting at the workshop was Roshekia Rolle, a Bahamian who teaches at Lauderdale Lakes Middle School and Allison Papke, a graduate assistant at University of South Florida.

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News Article

January 26, 2015
Executive Flight Supports to become Jet Aviation Bahamas

Executive Flight Support (EFS) has announced a new fixed base operator management agreement with international aviation maintenance company Jet Aviation, and according to the tourism minister, it is a move that celebrates "brand Bahamas".
The Lynden Pindling International Airport-based EFS will be a new addition to Jet Aviation's worldwide FBO network and will be rebranded as Jet Aviation Bahamas. Managed by Jet Aviation as of January 2015, EFS - in business since 1990 - touts itself as "the premier full-service FBO in the Caribbean", situated at the largest airport and the main international gateway into the country. The company provides FBO and line services, aircraft management, charter services, and aircraft sales, and was voted best FBO in the Caribbean by Pro Pilot on numerous occasions.
EFS owner and Managing Director Alphonso Bowe seemed satisfied with the deal.
"EFS has always been committed to service excellence, and an alliance with Jet Aviation and its global recognition as a leading business aviation organization complements our strategy," he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe - who noted the profitability of private aviation - told Guardian Business the announcement "represents the tremendous reach of brand Bahamas."
"It further verifies that The Bahamas is on the upward trend. Private aviation produced more that $300 million in revenue to The Bahamas in 2014."
Of EFS, he said, "Executive provides high quality service. Such has lifted its image and its great success."
Jet Aviation executive Gary Dempsey said the company was "very honored that EFS chose to join our network of FBOs worldwide to serve our mutual clients while offering the highest standard in the FBO industry."
"As a key gateway for international traffic from Europe, the Middle and Far East, and South America, EFS is the perfect addition to our network," Dempsey added.
The EFS-Jet Aviation Bahamas facility encompasses 305,000 square feet of ramp and a full-service FBO terminal building that includes onsite Bahamas Customs and Immigration available 24 hours, concierge service, computerized flight planning, pilot lounge, executive lounges, conference room, courtesy offices, on-site car rental and 20,000 square feet of hangar space. The company will remodel the 10,000 square foot FBO to upgrade its interior including a new lobby, pilot's lounge, VIP rooms and conference rooms to be completed by summer 2015. The existing ramp will be repaved and expanded by an additional 174,000 square feet to accommodate the growing traffic. Starting in 2015, EFS will also add four new 25,000 square foot hangars to the facility.

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