Bridging the Digital Divide

The pandemic emphasized to the world the importance of technology and access to the internet. For those without access, many students, most in low-income and disadvantaged countries and communities, went without any formal education for a year or more. In parts of Panama, including many of our island communities, it was over two years. Computers and the internet provide students with access to virtual classes, internet research, and give them a basis in computer literacy that is becoming more and more of a necessity regardless of career path. For adults, the internet provides a way to communicate, an opportunity to look for jobs, promote a small business, gain new skills, and attend classes at a university that may be hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Give and Surf has helped to bridge the digital divide for many years. The community center it built in Old Bank in 2015 housed the community’s InfoPlaza. In San Cristobal, the community center is commonly referred to as “The Internet” as it’s the only place in the community with internet, charging stations, and laptops, all free for use among its community members. In 2023, thanks to a grant from the U.S. Embassy of Panama, Give & Surf was able to introduce Kindle Fire Kids Tablets at its three after-school programs which encourage children to explore technology through educational games such as PBS Kids, Lingo Kids & Khan Academy. “Teaching children to use technology is a key priority and an expressed want of the local parents and community leaders,” says Emily Talentino, Give & Surf Executive Director. “However, it is critical to do so in a responsible way in which we limit what children can access and how much screen time they have.”

With the March 2024 start of the new public school year, Give & Surf had a big surprise for several students and two schools! Thanks to a partnership with Hope & Equity Without Borders, Give & Surf was able to secure 40 refurbished laptops. Ten recent high school graduates were awarded university scholarships and a laptop, and the Boca del Drago Primary School and Colegio Josue Rogelio Ibarra (Bocas Town high school) were each gifted 15 laptops for their students to use! This helps achieve the goal of ensuring that local students are equipped with the skills needed to remain competitive and prepared for the future.

Learn more about Give and Surf and their non-stop educational endeavors!

Give and Surf - Laptop donation 2024 - kids outside

Dora Reina, Principal of Josue Rogelio Ibarra High School (left) and Emily Talentino, Executive Director of Give and Surf (right)

Give and Surf - Laptop donation 2024 - children 2


The Bocas Breeze is a digital and print newspaper proudly serving the Bocas del Toro community since 2004; reporting news, advertising local businesses and promoting tourism in Bocas del Toro, Panama.

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