HYDERABAD: Federal Information Technology and Telecommunication Minister Syed Aminul Haq has said that his ministry is executing 20 projects worth Rs16.3 billion for improving connectivity through optic fibre system and broadband in Sindh.

He was speaking at the ceremony for adoption of a school by Telecom Founda­tion (TF) for digitalised education in Latifabad on Monday.

The projects would benefit 11m population in 4,185 villages across the province, he said.

He said that Computer Science First coding education for children of over seven years of age would begin in this school and announced that state of the art laboratories would be established in one school each in Badin and Thatta districts.

He said that it was his ministry’s vision to equip children with latest technological skills so that they were able to cope with issues that arise 10 years from now.

For connectivity, he said, the ministry had launched 70 new projects in the country on which Rs65bn were being spent.

Haq said that he wanted to enable students to work on e-banking, e-schooling and e-agriculture while sitting in remote areas. “In Sindh, we are spending Rs16.5bn on 20 new projects of optical fibre and broadband service for reliable connectivity,” he said.

“Pakistan has 197m mobile phone users while we want 220m people to have inexpensive smart phones in their hand with 4G internet facility,” he said.

Ruling out early polls, the minister said that digitised census would begin in March and then Election Commission of Pakistan would carry out delimitations in four months. So, he said, he did not see polls before October when elections would be due this year.

TF chief executive Zomma Mohiuddin said on the occasion that it was the second school after the one in Orangi Town adopted by the foundation to impart digitized education.

The TF’s programme for adoption of schools had remained in doldrums for 21 years and had now been revived by the minister.

The TF would ensure CS First coding education to students of over seven years of age to enable them to prepare

their code through pictorial interventions, he said.

The TF was working with 12 schools and with Orangi and Latifabad’s school the number had now risen to 14. The foundation had engaged Singapore-based Google management for launching the CS First initiative for schoolchildren, he said.

He said that TF would also be launching its solar panels programme in collaboration with the ministry. These panels would be fitted with a device to monitor the panel’s efficiency for users, he said.

Hyderabad commissioner Bilal Memon said that initiatives like this one would transform the country if one school each was adopted by the foundation in all districts of Pakistan. Earning through cotton and onion exports had become old story, it was now time for IT exports, he said.

Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2023

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