Jamaican government hires whiz kid (13) as adviser

 

Jamaica has appointed a 13-year-old computer whiz kid as a government consultant to help the bureaucrats keep up to date with the latest developments in computer technology.

Makonnen David Blake Hannah, whose trail-blazing grandfather broke the colour barrier in the 1940s, became the youngest ever government adviser when he was named youth technology consultant by Minister of Commerce & Technology Phillip Paulwell.

Mr Paulwell said the boy would be "responsible for putting forward the valued perspectives of the new generation" and will inform the minister on computer technology trends. He will receive an honorarium for his efforts.

Hannah's ground-breaking post follows in the tradition of his grandfather, Evon Blake, a journalist and author who broke the colour barrier in Jamaica when he jumped into the "whites only" swimming pool at Myrtle Bank Hotel in Kingston. Hannah will keep the ministry abreast of Websites and software to help the government make computers and computer-based education available to Jamaican children, Mr Paulwell said.

He added the youngster to his ministry after meeting him during the filming of a movie and being impressed with his grasp of computer technology, officials said.

Mr Paulwell announced the appointment at a ceremony at a new computer technology institution to be run by Hannah's mother, Barbara Blake Hannah, a journalist and former senator. The centre, to which US software giant Microsoft donated equipment through its Connected Learning Community programme, will train gifted children. Makonnen Hannah said he planned to help Mr Paulwell optimise the ministry's computer system and give him daily updates on worldwide developments in technology.

"I can do almost everything. I can program a little bit, I'm good at system design, advanced Windows and DOS usage, stuff mainly like that," Hannah said. "You could call me an expert."