By HAZEL KUTKUE
WHILE the world is advancing to a stage where people are relying more on virtual information and less and less on information on paper, the same cannot be said for rural Papua New Guinean populations. Urban regions have more opportunities to delve into a treasure trove of information provided by the internet although its populace, much smaller in number than the rural population, still has to deal with the high cost of internet usage.
To bridge this gap between users in towns and cities and those in villages and rural outposts, a Papua New Guinean man has established a company that is dedicated to narrowing the gap in the uneven distribution of cybernetic information.
Chayil Information Technology Ltd is a company established in 2014 and owned and run by nationals.
The company is the brainchild of 55 year old Joe Chinau, who has decided to do something on his own. A retired engineer, Joe has worked in various Papua New Guinean companies in senior management positions and in collaboration with three other nationals, they are now into software, hardware, server programming and research.
The main focus of the company is in the distribution of electronic library packages to rural communities. The E- library is a collection of up to date information in the form of electronic files that the team has put together in a format that can be used offline. This means that you do not have to have an internet connection to access the precious information.
If you are now thinking that the only ones to benefit will be those in the outback, think again. A student or teacher in the city or town isn’t always guaranteed of having constant access to the net. Their only other options are to use a physical library or an E-Library. But the typical school library in PNG, not excluding college and university libraries, are filled with large numbers of outdated books. With the E-Library, nothing can ever go wrong.
The E-library works in a very simple manner. The team installs an equivalent of over 500, 000 books, 4 million information data, which consist of text documents, videos, sketches, images and minute details of cross-references and 37 million articles on a single computer for a reasonable price. They also install software that helps the client access an additional 4 terabytes of information through their wireless technology.
“Internet is very expensive and we are taking a range of educational websites and making it offline. Satellite technology is available where you rent a space for your product and beam it to isolated location but it is still an idea we are looking at,” Joe says.
“We have to approach stepwise, stand-alone, wireless and then satellite “
Since its establishment, Chayil Information and Technology has dispensed out the E-Library to a large number of people. They have lost track of the exact number of individuals who have used their services but guestimate it to be between 4000 – 5000 individuals – not including organizations.
The team has patrols, where they travel to remote communities to introduce the concept of the E-Library. So far, it has visited Milne Bay, East Sepik, Gulf, West New Britain, Simbu and Eastern Highlands.
Teachers and students travel in from Enga, Western Highlands, Eastern highlands, West Sepik, Morobe, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and New Ireland to enquire after their very own E-Library. The library can be used by individuals as their own resource centers or be for academic uses. Most people coming from the remoter regions have been overwhelmed with the power and the volume of the information that is within their grasp. Not only that, it is also affordable for them.
“This is just what we need,” was how one school representative described it.
The idea behind the creation of the company was that PNG was not yet ready for the internet but would greatly benefit from offline information that was readily available. The company believes that true liberation of the mind is for people to have information.
“When you educate a person, you liberate their minds. Just as food without salt is tasteless, education without the right information is not quality. Information is the secret ingredient of real education and real knowledge,” Joe stresses.
The company has realized that students and teachers in remote areas struggle to gain access to up to date and reliable resources and learning materials. It believes that this service is creating a platform, where the rural child or teenager or teacher or other individual for that matter currently without reliable internet connection sources to access information on the net, can now be up to par with their fellow counterparts in the towns or cities across the country.
“What this service has done, is create a level playing field,” Joe says of the benefits of the E-Library.
Relating this to the Papua New Guinea development goals, the team believes that the right information and education is the only way any society can advance.
“The only way that PNG could successfully achieve the Vision 2050 goals is through education which could only be achieved through people getting hold of the right information. After all, how can the country and its people be fairer, wiser, healthier and be in the top 50 ranking countries in the world without quality education? ” Joe says.
The company is already in the next phase of their E-library project. They are looking at plans of launching their E-library by getting a slot on a satellite that will allow schools to access it without the use of the internet.
Since the company is self-sustaining, it has a limited budget, but this is not a hindrance to them in reaching their goals.
The team hopes to gain the attention of the government to explore this cost-efficient method of providing information to schools, with regard to rural schools.
While the humble library building, and books, might still have its value and importance, an E-library can be installed for a minimal cost of K500, in under an hour.
Member for Lae Loujaya Kouza has engaged Chayil Information and Technology to install E-libraries in schools in her locality. This was a highlight for the company and the team is grateful that she has recognized the importance of enlightening the minds of the young.
So next time you find that your research paper is due the next day and you’re out of data bundles or, as a teacher you want to give a lesson on tropical ecosystems but don’t have the textbooks or good background information, consider buying your very own E-library where all the information, or at least most of it, is within your reach. Just click a button.
To contact the company, the contact details are; Facebook Page Chayil Information Technology or phone; +675 70373871.
By HAZEL KUTKUE