Grant equips learning centers for new digital GED

BARRE — People looking to get their GED in central Vermont will be able to continue using established learning centers in the area, thanks to a grant providing necessary computers.

On Jan. 1, the General Education Development exams were converted from paper-based tests to digital.

Carol Shults-Perkins, executive director at the nonprofit Central Vermont Adult Basic Education, said Wednesday her organization has been providing GED testing and instruction services in Washington, Orange and Lamoille counties for 48 years. For the organization to keep functioning as a place for residents to take the tests, she said, it needed computers.

Shults-Perkins said the organization was awarded $6,558 from FairPoint Communications to purchase six laptop computers to use as a mobile computer lab. The grant also provided other equipment, including webcams and signature pads to verify the identity of people taking the tests and a larger monitor for those with visual impairments.

So far the mobile computer lab has spent time at learning centers in Randolph, Bradford and Morrisville, according to Shults-Perkins. She said it will allow the organization to distribute the computers as needed so those who need it can get a basic education.

“For adults who have basic literacy needs, cannot do the reading, writing and math to function at work, with their families and in life in general, we are the only organization that can provide that service in the three-county area,” Shults-Perkins said.

The organization also has learning centers in Montpelier and Waterbury. Shults-Perkins said the hope is that in the future as need arises, the computers can be used in those locations as well.

The learning center the organization runs in Barre uses desktop computers, and Shults-Perkins said the organization recently received a $10,000 grant from the state Department of Buildings and General Services to upgrade that equipment. She said the organization is in the process of doing that.

According to a news release, the organization has provided GED testing services and preparatory academic instruction for 189 central Vermont residents in the past two years. Of those, 120, or 63 percent, have achieved their GED, and many are progressing toward that goal.

“It’s extremely important for Vermonters to have access to resources that will help them compete and thrive in the Green Mountain State,” said Beth Fastiggi, FairPoint state president, in the release. “FairPoint is proud to underwrite CVABE’s mobile computer lab to improve the economy and the lives of those living in central Vermont.”

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