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 Thursday, August 21, 2014
SMEs can now enjoy broader coverage of technology solutions and a simplified application process through the incorporation of the $500 million IPG programme into "Increase SME Productivity with Infocomm Adoption & Transformation" (iSPRINT). The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced IPG earlier this year in the Singapore Budget 2014 Speech.

The enhanced iSPRINT scheme will boost SMEs' productivity and growth. There are three new elements in the enhanced iSPRINT: piloting of new sector solutions, scaling up of already proven sector solutions and leveraging access to high-speed connectivity to achieve more with technology.

The enhancement was announced today by Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information, at the opening of the 16th Annual SMEs Conference & 17th Infocomm Commerce Conference, organized by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Dr. Yaacob said that the enhancements aim to make the adoption of ICT solutions more accessible to SMEs. "Global and technological trends have made the businesses highly competitive and SMEs must make use of technology to compete and succeed. The opportunities and possibilities are there, it is up to you (SMEs) to take advantage of the resources the Government has provided".

Mr. Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA said, "Tech enables business transformation. To build the world's first Smart Nation, we need pioneers among our SME to innovate with tech and transform their businesses so that they can compete even more effectively in Singapore and reach new markets overseas".

IT vendors and SMEs who wish to pioneer new and scalable solutions that can automate and transform a particular sector may now receive support of up to 80% capped at $1 million. SMEs, on the other hand, that wish to deploy proven sector-specific solutions in their business, may also benefit from this scheme. SMEs can choose solutions from a growing pre-qualified list and may now receive support of up to 70%.

To encourage SMEs to deploy technology into their businesses, SMEs can also enjoy higher speed connectivity with the support from IDA if they adopt selected solutions. These include support for SMEs' fibre subscription plans of at least 100 Mbps and implementation of Wireless@SG services at their business premises.

At the same time, SMEs will also not need to make any claim submissions for the above enhanced iSPRINT support. The enhanced iSPRINT is expected to support up to 10,000 companies over three years. Whilst all sectors with SMEs will benefit from this scheme, 5 sectors that will benefit significantly for productivity and growth are retail, food & beverage, construction, logistics/transport and tourism & attractions.

Further details

Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:43:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


On July 9, the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)-led Connect4Change consortium, together with preferred partner Text to Change and the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Malawi (FAWEMA), launched a campaign aimed at creating an environment in which children’s rights are recognized and respected. The initiative uses ICTs to map the local situation of children, particularly in schools and focusing on girls, to raise community awareness of child abuse and to advocate for children’s rights. It empowers the community to voice their concerns and puts a structure in place for facilitating follow-up and feedback.

In this campaign, SMS and radio are used to mobilize communities around issues affecting children’s rights and education. Parents, teachers and other community members are encouraged to enrol in a mobile platform informing and surveying participants on various children’s rights topics, and both SMS and radio are used to further raise awareness and sensitize the community to these issues. The messages focus on child abuse in many forms, including but not limited to child marriage, child labor, sexual harassment and severe punishments by teachers. A toll free line has been designed to report incidents of child abuse, and reported cases are to be followed up by linking to the appropriate authorities such as the Victim Support Unit, mother groups or the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare.

Our experience shows that inclusion of all community stakeholders from the beginning is crucial in advocacy work. Furthermore, the diversity of issues addressed by this campaign requires the engagement of all community stakeholders to support and hold each other accountable to their shared goals. For these reasons, IICD worked to include not only local authorities, but also school management committees, teachers, parent-teacher associations, teacher training colleges and primary education advisors in the workflow.

Advocacy initiatives such as this child protection campaign are an important part of the ICT4D work that IICD pursues. Keeping issues such as child abuse on political and community agendas is a central component of bringing about sustainable social changes in the countries in which they work. In this initiative, by advocating children’s rights via an ICT platform, parents and educators in the community become better equipped to deal with these concerns and offer their children a safer environment for learning and living.

(Source: IICD)

Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:35:07 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has signed a collaborative agreement with Microsoft East Africa to enhance development activities in the area of entrepreneurship.

The two organizations have agreed that Microsoft will provide training and mentorship services to Ethiopia's UNDP - supported Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) for 200,000 entrepreneurs. These services form part of Microsoft's 4Afrika Initiative, which looks to accelerate Africa's economic development and improve its global competitiveness by empowering local entrepreneurs. Microsoft brings this vision, as well as its vast experience in providing ICT skills, education and curriculum for developing countries, to the deal.

As part of this agreement, senior Microsoft executive volunteers will be required to provide support, including mentoring entrepreneurs on strategy and marketing; supporting the best innovators and nominating them for the 4Afrika Innovation Grant Award; providing access to Microsoft BizSpark, a global program that provides free software to startup entrepreneurs and in future; and helping entrepreneurs exchange products and services and gain global recognition through the Microsoft Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) portal.

UNDP's partnership deal with Microsoft also includes a 'Build Your Own Business' training, which is designed to help micro and small businesses empower current and aspiring entrepreneurs.

This is UNDP Ethiopia's first private sector partnership. Commenting on the collaborative agreement, the Resident Representative, Eugene Owusu, says: "The goods and services offered by Microsoft provides a unique opportunity to unleash the potential of young and budding entrepreneurs. This will help them to play a vital role in the economic growth and transformational development of Ethiopia".

Eric Odipo, Country Manager of Microsoft East and Southern Africa, agrees: "It is critical to develop the capacity, knowledge and skills of local entrepreneurs who will stimulate local economies. We look forward to working with the UNDP in taking innovative business models to scale".

UNDP and Microsoft have successfully partnered in the past in numerous countries to promote sustainable development, eradication of poverty, advancement of women, good governance and the rule of law. In this new partnership targeted at Ethiopia, the collaboration will focus on addressing some of the principal challenges faced in building resilient nations by empowering citizens and preparing them to join a dynamic and innovative 21st century workforce.

"Entrepreneurs hold the key in driving innovation and long term competitiveness in the African economy. Microsoft's partnership with UNDP to support 200,000 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia is the first step in driving this growth", noted Amrote Abdella, Director of Startup Engagement & Partnerships, Africa Initiatives, Microsoft.

Further details

Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:30:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore’s (IDA) inaugural Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) conducted its first class on 6 August, receiving an overwhelming response. The data sciences specialization course caters to  Singaporean working professionals and achieved more than 350 registrations, with strong participation from both the private sector and the public sector alike.

With Singapore gearing up to be the world’s first Smart Nation, data sciences and analytics are  becoming increasingly relevant and are  playing a greater role in businesses and government organizations in terms of  handling operational efficiency, engaging customers, as well as anticipating and delivering services. Professionals with training in data sciences and analytics are  expected to be in demand. McKinsey forecasts that there will be a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 data sciences and analytics professionals by 2018 in just the US alone.

In partnership with course provider Coursera, the MOOC pilot offers Singaporeans from different professional backgrounds the opportunity to develop vital skills that respond to this growing demand for data sciences and analytics talent, providing them with opportunities and improving career prospects. An industry recruitment report has shown that data professionals can expect to earn from $80,000 up to $180,000 or even more per year.

The IDA MOOC pilot has attracted a broad base of participants with a good proportion of applicants having five years or less of working experience. However, the course has also attracted experienced professionals with about 60% of the applicants having 5 years or more working experience.

While about 30% of the applicants come from an IT background, 40% are from a wide range of sectors such as healthcare, finance and education, reflecting data sciences and analytics’ ability to be applied across sectors and areas of work. The remaining 20% of applicants come from data-related professions, seeking to build upon their existing skills.

“We want the participants joining IDA MOOC to not only benefit from a high quality of learning that improves career prospects, we also want participants to network with...and learn from... like-minded members of industry”, said Mr. Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA. “This is an important part of building a data sciences and analytics community in Singapore”.

(Source: IDA)

Thursday, August 21, 2014 6:19:50 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), together with Intel, launched the All Africa Girls STEM Competition aimed at enhancing girls' interest, participation and performance in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects and to help the girls pursue careers in these fields.

The inaugural competition took place in Nairobi from 13th - 14th August 2014 and featured a team of 35 all-female finalists drawn from the 15 African countries where FAWE has presence.

Kenya was among the countries participating in the competition, sending 6 participants to the competition all drawn from Meru County. Other countries participating included Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zanzibar.

Speaking at the event, Intel's Africa Program Director, Suraj Shah, said "The technology sector has recently faced allegations of being a male dominated sector. Partly to blame for the situation is that not many women pick a career path in technology. Intel has chosen to be at the forefront of promoting gender balance and female participation in the technology sector, especially in Africa where technology's contribution to the economy has been growing at a fast pace".

The FAWE Science, Mathematics & Technology (SMT) programme, initiated in 2004, is aimed at increasing the participation and performance of girls in Science, Mathematics and Technology subjects in primary and secondary schools in Africa.

The programme is implemented in FAWE's Centres of Excellence (COEs) and in non-COEs schools across countries where FAWE has a presence. The collaboration between FAWE and Intel is in line with Intel's "She Will Connect program", which is an innovative combination of digital literacy training, an online peer network, and gender-relevant content.

Through the program, Intel endeavors to work with an ecosystem of partners to close this gap globally, beginning in Africa. Intel created the program as a result of the Women and the Web report in developing countries that showed 25% fewer women were online than men and in Sub-Saharan Africa, the gap rose to 43%.

As a result of this initiative, young women get the opportunity to acquire or improve digital literacy skills and expand their understanding and use of technology so that they can connect to health, government, and educational information, economic opportunities, and gender-specific resources. Consequently, these young women are able to receive better education, enhance their political participation, have a stronger voice in their communities, and increase their income by connecting to new economic opportunities.

This event created a platform for female students to test their creative, technological and innovative minds through the various STEM projects that they initiate, think through, conceptualize, develop and present for competitions at the school, national and African regional levels.

In addition to bringing together the girls, the event also brought together prominent women professionals and scientists who will  provide mentoring and motivational talks to encourage the young girls through sharing their experiences, among other activities.

Among these professionals were former FAWE beneficiaries who have made it through their education and who can serve as an inspiration to the upcoming Scientists, Mathematicians, Engineers and Technological experts.

(Source: All Africa)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:02:58 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, August 13, 2014


As ICTs infiltrate all aspects of our lives, it is critical for females to actively engage as members of the Information Society.  ICTs can provide for greater gender equality in careers, which is one of the goals of the Venezuelan government. 

Many countries around the world face a shortage of trained ICT personnel and Venezuela is no exception.  In particular, the government recognizes the role girls and young women can play in filling this impending gap, promoting programs such as Infocentros Canaimitas, holding training in telecommunications and providing free software to its citizens. 

The number of Internet users in Venezuela is also rapidly increasing.  In the first quarter of 2014, data service providers estimated the number of Internet users in the country as 13 million, 50% of whom were female, demonstrating the need for discussion on women and ICT.

Recognizing the work of ITU, including its annual International Girls in ICT Day, Venezuela understands this need for further discussion on the use of ICTs for female empowerment.  As part of the “Conference on Internet Development and Social Transformation” in Caracas on Tuesday, August 12, organized by the Association of Internet Users Venezuela, Internauta, participants received training on gender mainstreaming and social issues surrounding women and ICT.  Nerissa Aguilera, a computer specialist and participant in a variety free software initiatives, delivered this training.  Aguilera is also a member of Accessible World, an organization that develops and disseminates accessible technologies for persons with disabilities.

Additional conference discussion topics included the transition from IPv4 to IPv6, free “Infogobierno” technologies, the need for a sovereign system of traffic exchange points, and other issues related to the use of ICTs for social development.

For further information see http://www.internetvenezuela.net.ve/

(Source: Conatel

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 2:46:51 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 11, 2014


ITU is proud to announce the launch of an online platform to gather public opinion on the role that ITU could play to promote the use of ICTs as a tool to empower youth. This initiative serves as a follow-up to the BYND2015 Summit, held in San José in September 2013 and organized by ITU, together with the government of Costa Rica.

As agreed by ITU Council 2014, the platform has been made available, at the request of Costa Rica, to gather input on a resolution on youth, to be presented to this year’s PP-14 conference.

In order to expand the reach of this initiative, ITU would like to invite all ITU Membership to share and promote this platform with all relevant stakeholders, including academic institutions and youth-led civil society organizations.

The outcome of the consultation, which will take place from 1 August until 15 September 2014, will be posted on ITU´s thematic page on youth issues, for the consideration of all delegations taking part in PP-14. For further information please visit the website of the consultation, available at www.itu.int/youth.

#PP14Youth
​ITU is inviting young people around the world to share their thoughts and opinions on the scope and mandate of our future work related to youth. Through this online consultation, members of the public can provide input to the policy document which will be presented to ITU's upcoming Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) in Busan, Republic of Korea from 20 October - 7 November 2014. The #PP14Youth initiative aims to build on the successful experiences of the BYND2015 Summit, held in San José, Costa Rica in September 2013.

Contributing your thoughts and ideas is simple! Here's how to do it:

1. Read the draft policy document
2. Make your suggested edits and comments
3. Keep checking back to stay updated with how the policy document is evolving
4. Tell others to get involved with #PP14Youth

Further information

Monday, August 11, 2014 12:48:29 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The fourth version of Colombia 3.0, which brought together more than 130 experts in digital content from 14 countries, was held in Bogotá in order to promote the software industry, develop creative solutions and to reduce poverty in the South American country.

The event brought together business owners and entrepreneurs in digital animation, web and mobile development, video games, music, convergence, business and monetization of convergent media, explained the Minister of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) of Colombia, Diego Molano.

The minister said that Colombia strives to be a world power in the field of digital content, but that they are also looking to technology as a tool to "solve the problems of Colombians, including poverty". For this, the government has allocated, for the next four years, about $ 10,000 million for infrastructure, application development and training.

This event took place in the vicinity of the "Zona T", in the north of the Colombian capital, where there are restaurants, exclusive shops and entertainment places.
The organizers believe that this is time to promote the software industry, the digital content scenario and young Colombian talent.

"We have put in black and white for a week everything that is happening in Colombia with the ICT industry, but especially the industry linked to creativity", Molano said. The minister also said that the Colombian software and applications developers will be highlighted, because "they are making the revolution of information systems in the government".  Additionally, he said, the event offers business opportunities for Colombian entrepreneurs and investment opportunities for foreigners.

(Source: America Economía)

Monday, August 11, 2014 12:23:42 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Akvo builds open source internet and mobile software which is used to make international development cooperation and aid activity more effective and transparent. They provide the software as a service to the vast majority of the organizations with which they work, backed by a partner-support and training team.

Akvo is a non-profit foundation headquartered in the Netherlands with staff in Sweden, Kenya, Burkina Faso, the UK, Germany, Spain, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Finland and the United States. Akvo’s tools are open source and used by over 1,500 organizations throughout the world in areas such as water, sanitation, health, education and economic development.

Products:

Akvo RSR stands for Really Simple Reporting. It’s a web- and Android-based system that makes it easy for development aid teams to bring complex networks of projects online and share progress with everyone involved and interested.

Akvo FLOW is a mobile phone and online service that transforms field monitoring using Android smartphones.

Akvo Openaid helps governments and big international organizations present aid-spend data online in easy to navigate ways so they can meet transparency obligations.

Akvopedia is a portal for online knowledge on smart, low-cost, sustainable water and sanitation technology and approaches.

(Source: Akvo)

Monday, August 11, 2014 12:19:39 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
KiBO Foundation, a social enterprise focused on developing skills and unleashing the capacity of youth through ICT skills in Uganda, has started a programme in Entebbe to help young people with disabilities attain IT skills.

The KiBO programme is expected to benefit over 350 youth in the municipality.  The program seeks to generate change by  providing schools with content that will open up their students’ minds to becoming great leaders and entrepreneurs.

Abraham Temu, KiBO´s Founder & Managing Director, said: "KiBO Foundation, Cisco and Entebbe Municipality officially launched a Community Knowledge Center (CKC) to provide members of rural communities, and especially the deaf, access to technology, to enable them find jobs, start businesses, gain education, and increase their financial self-sufficiency".

The project is set to help people with hearing difficulties acquire IT knowledge to make them better suited for the job market.

Temu also added that the Entebbe CKC was started two years ago and has trained hundreds of community members to date, including the youth and teachers, who are awarded certificates of accomplishment. He said "this will act as a demonstration centre from which youths will have access to the best technology in the world, unlike the current situation where students find difficulty in research because of lack of information centres".

This programme is part of a commitment by Cisco, a global IT company, to provide useful content and technology to disadvantaged groups in Africa, so that they can have access to what is happening around the globe.

"Through engaging municipalities in developing strategies that affect the young people, challenge their mindsets, we hope this will open up their minds to being great thinkers and pillars of change in their communities", Temu said.

KiBO hopes to set up seven more centres in other parts of Uganda including in Nebbi, Gulu, Amuru, Entebbe, Ntugamo, and Lira. In 2013, Cisco funded six CKCs across Uganda - Entebbe, Gulu, Lira, Nebbi, Ngora and Ntungamo Districts, with KiBO Foundation as the lead implementer; similar centers have been implemented across Africa to enable rural communities have access to Information and Communication Technology.

(Source: All Africa)

Monday, August 11, 2014 12:15:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


World Pulse is honored to join the Women and the Web Alliance, a groundbreaking public-private partnership which aims to create a movement addressing the gendered Internet gap by bringing more than 600,000 young women online in Nigeria and Kenya in the next three years.

World Pulse will collaborate with USAID, NetHope, Intel Corporation, World Vision, UN Women, and Women in Technology in Nigeria to transform the lives and livelihoods of girls and women in Africa through digital literacy training, relevant content, policy work, and online social networks.

World Pulse will provide digital empowerment training and a peer network of support to sustain women’s engagement and empowerment online. Building on its strong networks in sub-Saharan Africa, World Pulse will use its digital platform to unite and amplify young women’s voices, solutions and impact worldwide.

By introducing women to the Internet, sustaining their engagement and use of technology as a tool for social and economic empowerment, World Pulse is building a future where every woman and girl believes in the power of her own voice and uses it to build a free and equitable world where all life thrives.

The Alliance was announced at the U.S.-Africa Leaders’ Summit event, Investing in Women: Strengthening Africa, hosted by the White House, the George W. Bush Institute, and the US Department of State. The event convened African First Spouses from more than 35 countries; non-governmental organizations and non-profit leaders; private sector partners; faith-based and grassroots organizations; and other leading experts.

Further information

Monday, August 11, 2014 12:03:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


UNESCO, in conjunction with the Government of India, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Human Resource Development of India, is organizing an international event titled “From Exclusion to Empowerment: Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities”, which is scheduled to take place from 24 to 26 November 2014 in New Delhi, India.

This international event will bring together more than 500 leading policy makers and practitioners in the field of disabilities, communication and information specialists and ICTs developers, together with leaders in politics, education, civil society, culture, business, media and industry, as well as UN family organizations. These stakeholders will discuss these vital issues in order to enhance human rights and fundamental freedoms for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in every aspect of life.

The major objectives of this international event are to showcase the potential and benefits that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide in terms of access to information and knowledge for persons with disabilities around the world and to encourage all stakeholders to take concrete measures for the empowerment of persons with disabilities through the use of inclusive and accessible ICTs.

Current estimates suggest that 1 billion people, 15% of the global population, are living with some form of disability. Though they have been referred to as the ‘world’s largest minority’, many persons with disabilities are not provided with equal access to education and gainful employment. They are thus denied the opportunity to take an active part in their communities and grow as individuals. It is imperative that this issue be dealt with, specifically under the auspices of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and with a view to the Post-2015 inclusive-development agenda.

UNESCO is convinced that ICTs can help mitigate the digital divide and foster the inclusion of persons with disabilities within an educational context, as well as within society as a whole. Inclusive and accessible ICTs can be used to address the needs of persons with a variety of disabilities, to the extent that they encourage personalized lifelong learning, employment and social participation.

This international event strives to gain better understanding of the possibilities afforded by these new technologies, and will be comprised of three main events:

1.The international conference, which will aim to raise public awareness amongst a variety of stakeholders: policy and decision makers, leaders within education, industry, IT and media sectors, and public and private organizations.

2.The “We Care Filmfest,” which will play a large part in raising awareness about disability through the medium of film. While an important issue, disability has received precious little visibility; as a result, prejudice and negative stereotyping towards disabled persons is prevalent.

3.The ICT Exhibition portion of the conference, where mainstream and assistive ICTs will be on display in an interactive workshop format and exhibition space. ICT solutions developers and providers will be encouraged to present existing ICTs and good practices, to develop new solutions, and to create a network for progress within this domain.

Overall, recommendations will be made for specific actions and innovative solutions will be shared, so as to encourage new policies, products, services, and cross-sectoral collaboration to empower persons with disabilities. It is through efforts like these that meaningful change can be effected, and UNESCO and its partners are proud to present and engage in this important conference.

For more information about the international event, please visit the following website: http://www.unesco.org/ict-disability/

(Source: UNESCO)

Monday, August 11, 2014 11:41:54 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, reiterated the Federal Government of Nigeria’s commitment to empowering Nigerian girls and women through ICT gender empowerment initiatives at an interactive session with young women undergoing training at the Ministry’s 1000 Girls ICT training program, held in Abuja, on Tuesday 15th July.

Johnson emphasized that the Ministry of CommTech is empowering women and girls to embrace ICT, to actualize their potential and contribute to the economic development of Nigeria through various technology initiatives.

The minister also said the 1000 girls programme is part of the federal government’s Girls and Women in Nigeria (GWIN) programme aimed at empowering girls and women in Nigeria.

She said, through the GWIN programme, the Ministry of Communication Technology and four other ministries, coordinated by the Finance Ministry, were working together to ensure that women and girls, especially the disenfranchised, are empowered. She said several programmes are being created to ensure the empowerment, employment and inclusion of women in the nation’s development.

“For us in ICT, this particular program is important, because when you look at the statistics, there is a big gender divide in the world of ICT. And when you look at the way ICT is relevant in all sectors and beginning to take over the way things are done in everything, that gender divide in ICT means that women will be left further behind if we don’t encourage them to embrace ICTs. The training programme will also empower the 1,000 girls with ICT skills and knowledge in the knowledge economy“, the minister said.

The program is expected to help reduce the imbalance in ICT adoption and appropriation among men and women in the country. Johnson said that with the ICT sector emerging as the fastest growing sector in the Nigeria, recording a 30 per cent year-on-year growth, ICT has the potential to significantly contribute to increasing the social welfare of women.

The Minister emphasized the transformative power of ICTs to accelerate the development of women by helping them to be more efficient and effective in their jobs, careers, and business and to generate new employment opportunities. She said that ICT has unlimited potential to significantly contribute to increasing the social welfare of women.

The ministry also has two other programs –The Digital Girls Clubs and SmartWoman Nigeria program --all geared at empowering women and Girls in Nigeria. Oluwakemi Koretimi, a beneficiary of the 1000 Girls Training program, expressed satisfaction with the knowledge in ICT she has gained during the training exercise. She said that before she joined the program, she thought ICT was difficult and obscure and that only men operated and excelled in that field.

(Source: Nigerian Newspaper)

Monday, August 11, 2014 9:33:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


On the 22nd July 2014, Camara attended the official opening of its first solar-powered computer lab in Gros Morne, Haiti. As part of Camara’s ongoing partnership with University College Dublin Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO), it is intended that this facility will become the first of many new e-Learning centres to be integrated into the region. This unveiling is the result of a Memorandum of Association signed over two months ago in University College Dublin by Maureen O’Donnell, Camara’s European and Caribbean Service Manager, and Caroline O’Connor, a representative of UCDVO. The memorandum outlined a plan to introduce a sophisticated solar-powered computer lab with an accompanying teacher training programme to the area; a plan that has now come to fruition.

Camara successfully installed twenty refurbished computers, while also providing a rudimentary training course for the teachers involved. UCDVO have shown their support by administering continuous, valuable teacher training to staff for the duration of their stay. In the coming weeks, Camara will begin work on a specialized training manual for teachers. It will be bilingual: available in  both French and Haitian Creole. Camara hopes this will continue to support staff and schools in the region.

This venture has been part of a collaboration between the two organizations that has been ongoing since 2009. An inaugural project in Morogoro, Tanzania was expanded to incorporate multiple schools and an extensive computer training programme.

UCDVO are already involved in many development projects in the greater Gros Morne area, and Camara are thrilled to have launched this new project in partnership with them. The installation of this solar-powered computer lab is an exciting new opportunity, allowing them to focus on one of the central issues impeding access to ICT in Haiti – that of electricity. Electricity is something of an exclusive resource in Haiti; it is quite expensive and generally unavailable outside of urbanized areas. Solar power offers an elegant, practical and renewable alternative.

(Source: Camara)

Monday, August 11, 2014 9:20:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, August 04, 2014


The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has announced a strategic partnership with the private sector to deliver e-learning programmes in Kenya to thousands of marginalized girls.

Project iMlango is an e-learning partnership, led by satellite operator Avanti Communications and its partners: the smartcard and digital payments system provider, sQuid; online maths tutoring provider, Whizz Education; and technology NGO, Camara Education. The integrated programme aims to improve learning outcomes for 25,675 marginalied girls, across 195 Kenyan primary schools.

Project iMlango addresses the cultural and financial issues that can lead to reduced school attendance and drop outs, with electronic attendance monitoring and conditional payments to families. At the programme’s core sits an internet learning platform, accessed via satellite broadband connectivity, where partners provide students with interactive, individualized learning tools.

According to the project lead, Project iMlango delivers:

- High-speed satellite broadband connectivity to schools;
- Personalized maths tuition with a virtual online tutor, alongside digital learning content for maths, literacy and life skills;
- Tuition and support to teachers to use ICT in their teaching;
- Electronic attendance monitoring with conditional payments – to incentivise families to send their daughters to school – for use with local merchants;
- In-field capacity in IT, technology and support resources;
Real-time project monitoring and measurement;

(Source: IT News Africa)

Monday, August 04, 2014 9:24:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


It is important to show some of the most significant scholarly contributions to knowledge and action towards expanding women’s participation in all communication platforms. The publication proposes a pragmatic research agenda for the Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG), looking back, building on the past and looking to the future.

This volume is divided into four main sections: 1) Gender-based violence, media and information; 2) Women’s access to media; 3) Gender and media policy and strategies; 4) Gender, education, and media and information literacy. The authors are all experts on the advancement of gender equality. Moreover, they have been involved in both scholarly and advocacy actions with visible impact at global, regional and national levels. UNESCO is pleased to have cooperated with the International Association of Communication Researchers in the preparation of this publication.

Download full text here


More information

Monday, August 04, 2014 9:18:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Ghana will soon benefit from an innovative project from Samsung in which shipping containers repurposed into solar-powered classrooms will provide students in the most remote parts of Africa access to education and innovation.

Samsung's Solar-Powered Internet Schools Initiative is part of Samsung’s Citizenship program and it will bring mobile classrooms filled with gadgets to rural towns.

By outfitting a mobile shipping container with desks, a 65-inch electronic board, Internet-enabled solar-powered notebooks, Samsung Galaxy tablet computers and Wi-Fi cameras, children can receive a technology-rich education without traveling far away.

Each 12-meter portable classroom has space for up to 24 students to learn how to use computers and how to surf the Internet, many for the first time. The schools are specifically designed for African conditions, and can withstand energy-scarce environments, harsh weather conditions and transportation over long distances.

Fold-away solar panels provide enough energy to power the classrooms’ equipment for up to nine hours a day, and for one-and-a-half days without any sunlight. The solar panels are made from rubber, rather than glass, ensuring they are hardy and durable enough to survive long journeys across the continent.

Samsung is working with the Government of Ghana and the Ministry of Education, local educators, content developers, school administration and management to integrate the Internet Schools into local communities in Ghana by the end of July.

(More details)

Monday, August 04, 2014 9:12:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The first ever Pan-African Women in Tech meet up will take place as a virtual event in August, supported by simultaneous live viewing events in Uganda, South Africa and Ghana.

Organized by Women in Tech Ghana, Women in Tech Zambia, Women in Tech Uganda, and Girls in ICT Rwanda, the event aims to bring together women working in technology across the continent. The organizers note that “some Women in Technology clubs exist already but, to date, no one has attempted to build a pan-African network, allowing us to compare our challenges, learn from other countries and connect across borders to expand our influence”.

They elaborated: “Working in technology can, at times, be an isolating experience for women, especially in Africa. The impact of this can limit women’s professional growth in the sector. Women need mentors, role models and a network to share their experiences, challenges and skills”.

The meet up will be held on 2 August 2014, at 12pm GMT, 2pm CAT, 3pm EAT.

Register for live stream event or viewing parties at https://womentechafrica.wordpress.com

(Further details)

Monday, August 04, 2014 8:57:58 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 



Digital Education Group (DEG), an academic consulting firm specialising in classroom technology, has launched a new search engine for schools called “Easy School Find.”

The Search Engine project aims to serve as a platform for useful educational information, ideas and updates for parents and corporate institutions, as well as to promote schools and other educational facilities.

Speaking at the launch, The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DEG, Mr. George Sackey, said the project was expected to offer Ghanaians from all parts of the country the chance to easily access and search online for schools of their choice.

He added that the project was carefully designed with outstanding and colourful layouts that would offer users the opportunity to comment and send instant feedback and ratings.

Mr. Sackey noted that the Project would offer incomparable benefits to parents and all prospective students in terms of simplifying school searches by allowing them to access relevant information about schools through  state of the art technology.

For her part, The Branch Manager of “Easy School Find”, Miss Priscilla Adom Tawiah, disclosed that the project would benefit a wide variety of people by providing the latest educational products and services, information, ideas and updates.

She said the platform provided by the “Easy School Find“ project would help parents, guardians and students with detailed directions to schools as well as virtual information on those schools.

According to her, "Easy School Find" would provide the general public with the most cost-effective and efficient means of advertising and promoting educational institutions on a global platform.

 (Source: BizTech Africa)

Monday, August 04, 2014 8:36:45 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, July 31, 2014
Discover the 10 award-winning best practices from the Actions for Digital Culture contest, organized by the Digital Italy Agency, to promote digital literacy and inclusion.

The first edition of Actions for Digital Culture received 101 applications. The award winning 10 were selected in May 2014, but additional initiatives will be posted on the contest database until July, 31st.

The award-winning initiatives were selected on the basis of their consistency with the objectives of the Italian National Programme for Culture, Education and Digital Skills and on their sustainability, scalability, size, verifiability, actual or potential impact, user-friendliness and openness.

Below are the 10 winning best practices in digital literacy and inclusion: check them out (Italian  only).
  • Digital Culture for citizens
- The network of local associations to disseminate digital culture
- DITEDI - District of Digital Technologies
  •  Digital Inclusion
- Bread and Internet
- CoderDojo Italy
  • Working Digital Skills
- Development of digital professional skills at INAIL according to the standard e-CF
- Professional competence profiles for the Web

  • Digital Skills for the Enterprises
- The Italian school to catch up with Europe: Core EUCIP in curricula in technical colleges
- Meet No Neet 2
  •  Digital Skills for PA
- METID MATCH: build with the digital culture
- The 100 Schools Project

Digital literacy is the topic of the ongoing discussion on ICT4Society Café: join the debate and let us know about your experience and good practices!

More details

Thursday, July 31, 2014 9:20:35 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Eko-Konnect is holding an app competition in Nigeria as part of its 2014 Software Freedom Day Celebration.

Eko-Konnect challenges applicants to identify a challenge to either students or management of Higher Institutions of Learning and build an app to solve this challenge. Apps will be exhibited on Friday, 19th September, 2014 at the Yaba College of Technology and winners will be announced on Saturday, 20th September, 2014 at the same venue.

Send your Abstract by Friday, 22nd August, 2014 to eko-geeks@eko-konnect.net.ng.

Only eligible applicants will be contacted.

Further details

Thursday, July 31, 2014 8:54:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
DEMO has released the names of the 40 start-ups that have qualified to launch their products on the DEMO Africa stage in September 2014.

Topping the list is Nigeria with 14 qualifying start-ups, followed by Kenya, Ghana and Egypt. Rwanda, Tanzania, South Africa and Ethiopia will each have two representatives at the weekend event, while Tunisia, Benin, Cameroon, Uganda and Zimbabwe had earned their space at the DEMO Africa platform.

DEMO Africa is the flagship initiative of the Liberating Innovation in Opportunity Nations or LIONS@FRICA partnership, an innovative new partnership aimed at enhancing and deepening the start-up and innovation ecosystems of fast-growing African economies.

LIONS@FRICA brings together the US State Department, Microsoft, Nokia, InfoDEV, and the United States Agency for International Development, among others, to support and amplify Africa’s budding start-up and innovation ecosystem.

According to a statement signed by the Special Assistant to the Minister of Communication Technology on Media in Nigeria, Mrs. Efem Nkanga, more than 400 applications were received for the DEMO Africa 2014, but only 242 met the threshold for the adjudication. Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana submitted  the highest number of entries. Out of 12 categories for application, Nkanga said communication attracted the highest number of applications, with 76 applications received, and the category would have the highest number of representation with 14 projects of the final 40 being in this category. She said that the finance and banking category would also have a good representation of eight out of 18 entries accepted. Other categories that will have high representation on the DEMO Africa stage, according to her, include retail, health and education.

Start-ups, however, shied away from water and sanitation, and waste management and recycling. No entries were recorded for these two categories, an indication that stakeholders still had to work on entrepreneurs’ confidence to encourage homemade solutions across all sectors.

Commending the African entrepreneurs, the Nigerian Minister for Communication Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, said, “This presents another opportunity for African tech start-ups. Africa may have missed out on the industrial revolution, but we surely will not in the ICT revolution. Through innovation, we will put Nigeria and Africa in general on the ICT map.

“Realising the huge potential of the software industry, we have put in place a set of initiatives that will assist the tech start-ups to create successful businesses, which will directly create jobs and wealth”.

The DEMO Africa Executive Producer, Harry Hare, reportedly acknowledged the efforts by all the participating start-ups and called upon the investors to support the work of the young entrepreneurs.

He said, “We had really amazing entries this year, but unfortunately the DEMO Africa team can only accommodate 40 for now. ”Hare said the high number of entries was inspiring, adding, “It only shows that entrepreneurs have risen above the fear of venturing into new waters to create new products”.

He said, “This in itself shows that confidence levels in Africa-made solutions are steadily rising. I am confident that we will get to levels where we can generate solutions that can be applied globally”.

(Source: IT News Africa)

Thursday, July 31, 2014 8:42:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, July 21, 2014
The funding boost for the Computers in Homes digital literacy programme, announced recently, has been welcomed by the 2020 Communications Trust.

“We appreciate this on-going support from Government,” said Laurence Millar, Chair of the 2020 Communications Trust. “This will help us continue to tackle the digital divide for families with school-aged children who do not have access to a computer and internet in their homes.”

Computers in Homes ticks all the boxes in terms of government’s digital priorities and target groups and is strongly supported by communities throughout New Zealand and especially by Members of Parliament for the most remote and disconnected regions, many of whom have seen first-hand the benefits for their constituents.

“We have a waiting list of over 3000 families, and we believe there could still be more than 70,000 families with school-aged children without access to the internet in their homes”, said Mr. Millar. “We are looking forward to the results of the Census later this year to get an up-to-date picture on the extent of the digital divide”.

“Computers in Homes currently supports families in 17 low income communities from the Far North to Otago. Today’s announcement means that we can support another 1500 families during the next year, and continue to respond to demand in these regions”.

“Government has announced the 21st Century Learning Reference Group to provide expert advice on digital literacy in schools to indicate the importance of digital skills for New Zealand’s future. Digital inclusion is an important part of our future, and expanding the programme to reach 5,000 families every year would cost less than 1% of the Government’s investment in ultra-fast broadband. We urge the Government to keep investing in digital literacy alongside the infrastructure spend, to ensure New Zealand gets the expected economic and social returns”, Mr. Millar concluded.

(Source: e-Learning Porirua)

Monday, July 21, 2014 9:46:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye has today opened Youth Fund 2015 with $200,000 available for community projects.

“The Ministry of Youth Development’s Youth Fund is unique in that it supports projects designed and led by young people aged 12 to 24, or projects by youth organisations in partnership with young people, that develop community participation”, Ms. Kaye says.

“Panels of young people will assess applications to determine successful projects and where the funding will go, resulting in a completely youth-led initiative. The more opportunities we can give young people to participate in decision-making and get involved in service in their communities, the better”.

Youth Fund 2014 funded 47 projects last year, from the Pheonix Performing Arts – a programme of workshops and mentoring for young people involved in the performing arts – to the INSPIRE youth mentoring conference. A Westland Rural Education Activities programme, the conference taught Grey and Westland districts’ youth a range of skills in events management, communication, and financial management.

More than 7000 young people participated in the Youth Fund 2014 projects. “We cannot underestimate the value to our country of investing in young leaders”, Ms. Kaye says, “particularly through projects where young Kiwis lead the way in solving problems in their communities.  This funding, along with other Government initiatives such as the $2.5 million Youth Enterprise Initiative that was announced in Budget 2014, is giving young people opportunities to upskill and make a positive contribution to their communities”.

The funding available for each project in the 2015 Youth Fund ranges from $2000 to $7000. Projects must begin from 1 January 2015 and be completed by 30 June 2015.
Applications close on 11 September 2014.

For information: www.myd.govt.nz/funding/youth-fund.html

(Source: Official Web of New Zealand Government)

Monday, July 21, 2014 9:36:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Today, the effective application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education is a key policy priority for many countries around the world. However, inclusion of persons with disabilities is often not adequately ensured, encouraged and supported with necessary normative and legislative instruments, resources and funding mechanisms. To help its Member States to establish linkages between different legislative and policy fields such as education, technology and human rights, UNESCO, together with G3ICT and the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, brought together key stakeholders from the public and private sector, leading experts in inclusive education and ICT, members of civil society and persons with disabilities for the elaboration of a Model Policy for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education.

The purpose of the Model Policy is to serve as a resource document for developing the contents of new and existing national policy documents  or for auditing or implementing existing policies. Building on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), specifically Articles  9: Accessibility; Article 21: Freedom of Expression and Opinion, and Access to Information; and Article 24: Education, the document provides the rationale and practical steps for the following:

- Integration of inclusive ICTs in education for inclusion of persons with disabilities,
- Identification of key requirements for national legislation,
- Establishment of concrete policy objectives and actions,
- Development of a national implementation strategy, and
- Creation of a coherent and effective financial mechanism.

The document also includes templates for benchmarking and monitoring the completion of the policy actions, a list of key questions proposed for the elaboration of policy agenda, and a technical glossary.

The Model Policy for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education is now available in English and will be available shortly also in French.

(Source: UNESCO)

Monday, July 21, 2014 9:27:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The Deputy Director of the British Department for International Development in Ghana (DfID-Ghana), Ms. Charlotte Pierce, has pledged the commitment of DfID to working with the Government of Ghana to give all young people the opportunity of good quality education.

Ms. Pierce said DfID was currently helping 120,000 girls, who had dropped out of school in Ghana, to return to primary school and over 80,000 disadvantaged girls to complete their secondary education. She disclosed that in pursuit of its goal of helping more young people, particularly girls, to be in school, the British Government launched a programme dubbed ‘The Girls Education Challenge,’ under which one million girls across the globe are to go to school and learn.

Ms. Pierce spoke at the launch of Ghana’s first interactive distance-learning project, Making Ghanaian Girls Great! (MGCubed), at Prampram in the Greater Accra region. Ms. Pierce said MGCubed received funding under the (DfID)’s Girls' Education Challenge (GEC) programme to help it address the challenges of teacher quality, teacher absenteeism and poor student learning by equipping two classrooms in every school with solar-powered computers and projectors through which real-time, two-way interactive distance lessons could occur. She urged all stakeholders including parents, head teachers, district, community and traditional leaders, school children and the staff of project implementation and partner organizations to work together for the success of the project.

In an address, Dr. Gordon Carver, MGCubed Project Director, said the project was an attempt to use technology to achieve certain simple educational goals of attracting girls and boys to come to a classroom and learn relevant material through engaging activities, guided by a well-trained teacher.
Dr. Carver also stressed the need for partnership and collaboration among stakeholders to make the project a success.

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Monday, July 21, 2014 9:21:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


While interventions like interactive whiteboards and school management information systems have proven successful time and time again in the International Institute for Communication and Development’s (IICD) projects, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution in ICT4Education. For this reason, IICD is always searching for innovative ways to offer effective and efficient solutions. This month, IICD’s TeachTab and LearnTab, an IICD-developed tablet designed for educational use, was piloted in one primary school and one teacher training college in Malawi. Partnering with Don Bosco Youth Technical College, IICD aims to use these low-cost tablets to address the problems of educational resource shortages and overcrowded classrooms faced by many Malawian schools.

Tablets offer certain advantages that make them very appealing for ICT4Education projects: they are portable, low energy, affordable and offer interactive capabilities. Whereas standardly available tablets come pre-assembled and with a particular set of capabilities and functionalities, IICD is instead taking advantage of the rapidly dropping costs in ICT hardware by ordering the individual components of the tablets and assembling them with basic software that allows the teacher and all the students in the classroom to interact simultaneously. This results in a solution not only much more practical, but also much more affordable than installing a traditional computer lab or other ICT solutions.

Using the TeachTab, teachers can control the whole classroom and monitor what students are doing with the LearnTabs. Teachers can install or block applications remotely and broadcast text, presentations, videos or audio to all devices. The TeachTab also allows the teacher to interact with and prompt questions to the whole classroom at once using the interactive whiteboard functionality. Using the LearnTab, students can work in small groups, collaboratively post answers to quizzes prompted by the teachers or edit the same document or project together.

(Source: IICD)

Monday, July 21, 2014 9:10:56 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Government agencies are increasingly using social media to engage with citizens, share information and deliver services more quickly and effectively than ever before. But as social content, data and platforms become more diverse, agencies have a responsibility to ensure these digital services are accessible to all citizens, including people with disabilities.

Accessible, universal technology ensures the success of people with disabilities in the workplace.  A lack of accessible technologies constitutes a major barrier to the employability and productivity of persons with disabilities.  Increasingly employers use social media in recruiting and in the workplace and, as not all social media platforms are accessible, according to the U.S. Government, this practice excludes the 20 percent of the U.S. population living with a disability. 

To address this issue, as part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies and the Social Media Accessibility Working Group have developed a Toolkit of best practices in social media accessibility.    
 
This guide to Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government was created with the input of social media leaders and users across government and the private sector.  It is a living document containing helpful tips, real-life examples and best practices to ensure that your social media content is usable and accessible to all citizens, including those with disabilities.

To begin exploring the Toolkit, simply select from this table of contents:

- Who Developed This Toolkit?
- Why Is The Accessibility Of Social Media So Important?
- What You Will And Won’t Find In This Toolkit?
- General Social Media Accessibility Tips
- Platform-Specific Social Media Accessibility Tips – e.g., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vine, Blogs, etc.
- Additional Resources
- How To Provide Feedback or Contribute Content To This Toolkit

Further details

Monday, July 21, 2014 8:51:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The government of Botswana is making concerted, legislative efforts to catch up with other countries in Africa, like Rwanda and South Africa, who are speeding ahead in the faculty of Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Speaking during the recent 12th Southern Africa Research and Innovation Management Association Conference (SARIMA), Professor Torto of Botswana said parliament has already approved a National Innovation Fund which will provide seed and early stage funding for technology based start-ups and ventures, as well as established companies with viable innovation concepts.  The objectives of the 12th SARIMA conference were to develop the discipline of research and innovation, including professional development and promotion of best practices, in order to foster and coordinate activities related to research and management at local, national, regional, and international levels.

Torto said in this day and age science, engineering, technology and Innovation (SETI) “hold answers to new complex challenges that governments are facing. He commended the host country Botswana for making significant strides in mapping the landscape of science, technology and innovation (STI) and emboldening national frameworks.

“Over the past 60 years, both developed and developing countries have recognized this fact by increasing the number of SETI government bodies, establishing new SETI legal frameworks as well as implementing a diverse set of new SETI policy instruments”, said Prof. Torto.

In this light, according to Torto, the country is poised for progress and reform, including upgrading the country’s science systems and building capacity for monitoring and evaluating performance. 

Torto said building a sound higher education system has now become a “national priority.”  To date, Botswana has invested in two new public institutions of higher learning. One of these focuses on science and engineering, while the other on agriculture and natural resources.

He said, although funding and financing research and innovation is an expensive enterprise, it is critical for both Botswana and other countries to build an inclusive and diverse knowledge society.
 
(Source: BizTech Africa)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:11:55 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


On 10th July the European Commission launched its “Connected Communities” initiative – an umbrella for several systems designed to connect towns, cities, local broadband partnerships and operators to the advice they need to access finance and develop tailored business models for bringing fast broadband to their community.

All parties working at a local, regional and national level are invited to submit their concepts and plans for broadband deployment projects to the European Commission. Requests must be received before 15 October 2014, and the best concepts will receive the Commission's "seal of approval", and access to more in-depth support.

Some current examples of best practice include:
  • Reggefiber in the Netherlands, a project which started in 2010, has contributed greatly to the rollout of ultra high-speed fibre to the home (FttH), thanks to financing from the EIB and six commercial banks.
  • Iliad, in France, which signed a €200 million project with the EIB in 2012 to finance the rollout of next generation networks in France, 65% of which is earmarked to FttH development.
European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU said: "If you're a local authority, a region, or a committed broadband activist, we are here to help you! We want to connect you to practical support and finance to help you achieve your vision for your community”.
Types of support on offer include:

  • Individual feedback: initial assessment of a local broadband plan to determine what support can be offered.
  • World Bank technical assistance: the World Bank is cooperating with experts from the European Commission who will help develop business models and advise on how your project can achieve the necessary scale to be eligible for private or public financing.
  • European Investment Bank: The Commission has provided seed money for the EIB, as part of its Connecting Europe Facility, to deliver tailored financing for broadband projects, backed by the bank‘s AAA credit rating.
  • European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF): The EU has €453 billion available to all regions between now and 2020. Access to, and quality and use of ICT (including broadband investment) is, for the first time, one of the top priorities for these grants.
  • State aid: The Commission has defined special rules to assist in the granting of state aid for broadband, in ways that do not harm competition. This has seen a significant increase in the amount of state aid offered by Member States in recent years. A handbook is now available to assist you in requesting legal state aid (IP/14/535).
Why do we need a Connected Communities initiative?
The Digital Agenda targets are as follows: 100% of EU households to have 30 Mbps broadband and 50% households to subscribe to 100 Mbps or more, by 2020.
Investment in broadband networks is falling short and the current data shows that 64% of EU households have 30 Mbps available and only 3% have connections of 100 Mbps.

The high-speed broadband development is slow in particular in semi-urban and rural as well as economically disadvantaged areas. Only 18% of European rural households have access to high-speed broadband.

(Further details)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 12:06:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


UNESCO supported the Rwanda Board of Education in carrying out a two-day consultation meeting in Kigali from 7 to 8 July 2014. Held under the theme “Review and Validation of the ICT Essentials for Teachers Curriculum”, the event aimed at supporting the implementation of the Rwanda ICT for Education Policy through UNESCO’s ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT CFT).

The meeting in Kigali included a discussion on the development of openly licensed teacher training materials to be available as open educational resources (OER), to facilitate the integration of ICT in classrooms in Rwanda.

In line with the ICT in Education Policy Paper, it is foreseen that the outcomes of this workshop would support the development of an OER-based curriculum for in-service training to ensure that capacity building courses are tailored to local needs in terms of using  ICT for quality teaching and learning.

The objectives of the new curriculum will be the following:
  • aligning the ICT CFT to support the Rwanda ICT in Education Policy;
  • defining the objectives of teacher training materials to support the use of the ICT CFT; and
  • outlining the process for the development of OER to support training materials.
Participants in the meeting included representatives of the Rwanda Education Board, the University of Rwanda teacher training institutions, as well as the British Council, and non-governmental organizations. Participants noted the importance of the workshop, especially in order to use the ICT Competency Framework for developing teacher training programmes that are in line with national policies and strategies.

This activity is a direct follow-up to the implementation of the Paris OER Declaration that was adopted in June 2012 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. It is also part of UNESCO’s continued efforts of promoting the application of ICT to enhance the quality of and access to education, including the stimulation of production, sharing and access to open educational resources (OER).

(Source: UNESCO)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:44:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

Telecentre.org Foundation (TCF) shares Mozilla's belief that the web is a global public resource that’s integral to modern life; it shapes how we learn, how we connect and how we communicate. But many of us don't understand its basic mechanics or what it means to be a citizen of the web. That’s why TCF supports this global effort to teach web literacy through hands-on learning and making with Maker Party.

Here's a short video to help you better understand what Maker Party is all about.

We encourage you to attend a Maker Party event in your community. It's a great chance to improve your knowledge of how the web works, while getting your hands dirty and having a little fun. Better yet, why not gather a few friends and throw a small event of your own. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:34:24 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Indigenous communities may benefit from new computer technology that allows them to access educational resources and the internet using their own language. An international and interdisciplinary group is currently working on using this technology to reduce the digital gap and help protect cultural diversity in Mexico.

This effort is part of a wider project called Heliox, which is developing a free, inclusive operating system using a version of the existing fully open-source GNU/Linux system. New features such as translation software to assist indigenous speakers, as well as archives and educational content in local languages and direct links to websites are being added to this operating system.

“Free software is allowing us to serve people, minorities, who are not the goal of companies”, says Roberto Feltrero, a researcher in cognitive sciences at the National Distance Education University, Spain, and the project’s director. Feltrero first developed assistive Heliox to help people with disabilities access computers, designing innovations such as screen magnifier software and a device to control the mouse using head movements.

When he visited Mexico and met a group of philosophers of science interested in promoting the autonomous use of technology in indigenous communities, they began to work on the Mexican version of Heliox.

Heliox guides users to applications, files and websites through text and voice messages that appear in their chosen language when the cursor is pointed at icons. This helps guide users without needing much computing knowledge.

“If you tell a person ‘Firefox’ or ‘open file’ even in their native language, they will not understand because it is a computer language. In fact, 96 per cent of the words used in a computer system do not have a translation”, explains Feltrero. “We do not want only to translate because we want to reach people who have probably never used a computer”.

Heliox is saved on a memory stick along with software that automatically configures it to any computer in less than two minutes. “You do not have to do anything”, Feltrero explains, adding that Heliox can work on old computers.

With a budget of nearly US$8,000, provided by Mexico’s National Institute for Indigenous Languages, Feltrero and his team have already translated Heliox into Mexican Spanish, and indigenous tongues Mayan, Náhuatl and Mixe.

Luz Lazos, the project’s diversity consultant, who is based in Mexico, says, “It is not restricted to these languages. It is a system for any community anywhere in the world to develop their own Heliox and revitalize their language”.

Heliox’s creators expect that the Mexican version of the software will be released for free later this year. At the same time, indigenous communities will be given 20 old computers with Heliox installed.

In addition to the translation software, the team is developing educational and scientific content in indigenous languages to be included as archives in Heliox.
The objective is to show communities they can use text, video and audio editors to jointly create and share content based on their own cultures, values and traditions.
“There is a surprising connection between the principles and values in free software communities and the ones in indigenous communities, such as communal work or meritocracy”, says Lazos.

Gustavo Gómez Macías, a Mexican expert in programming and free software, says Heliox will be a “wonderful tool”. But he adds that it is important to make sure there are no compatibility problems between GNU/Linux and hardware, which is often a problem due to its complexity, and to ensure automatic updates are available. Feltrero is confident that these challenges will be adequately addressed.

(Source: SciDev Net)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:08:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, July 14, 2014



This is an annual special achievement award for outstanding performers and role models in Gender Equality and mainstreaming in the area of ICTs. Please note that this award is applicable for both women and men.
This is a ITU-UN Women Joint Award.

Background:
Women’s digital empowerment and their full participation in the information society is one of ITU’s key objectives. The 2010 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference strengthened Resolution 70 (Rev. Guadalajara, 2010) on “gender mainstreaming in ITU and promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women through information and communication technologies” and subsequently, the ITU Council, at its 2013 session, adopted the ITU Gender Equality and Mainstreaming (GEM) policy. 

To promote this policy, and recognize and reward ITU members and other Stakeholders who are leading the way in using ICTs to expand opportunities for women and girls, Secretary General has launched the annual GEM-TECH Awards, which will be conferred for the first time at the 2014 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14) in Busan, Republic of Korea in partnership with UN Women and will inter alia celebrate and commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and its impending implementation review in 2015.

The first ITU-UN Women GEM-TECH Awards will be awarded in seven categories covering crucial topics of gender equality and mainstreaming in and through ICTs, and are open to all stakeholders working in related areas.

1) Objective: 
The ITU - UN Women GEM-TECH Award will demonstrate a commitment to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through ICTs.

2) Format:
Open call to all Stakeholders working in the ICT Landscape.

3)Stakeholders Eligible to Apply for the Awards
Governments 
Private Sector
Civil Society
International Organizations
Academia

4) Award Categories – 7 Categories

1.ICT Applications, Content, Production Capacities and Skills for Women’s Social, Political Empowerment and Women’s Empowerment Linkages with Sustainable Development.
2.ICT Applications, Content, Production Capacities and Skills for Women’s Economic Empowerment and Poverty Reduction.
3.Promoting Women in ICT Sector - initiatives aimed at attracting, retaining and promoting women within the ICT sector and into decision-making positions (private and public sector).
4.Enabling Girls to Become ICT Creators - initiatives aimed towards providing girls with an opportunity to become not just active users but also creators of ICTs and content.
5.Closing the ICT Gender Gap - Ensuring ICT accessibility for women, such as digital literacy training and ensuring affordable and meaningful access to ICTs by women. Initiatives aimed at measuring the ICT gender gap including research and data on women’s engagement with ICTs and their impact.
6.Efforts to Reduce Threats Online and Building Women’s Confidence and Security in the Use of ICTs.
7.ICT and Broadband strategies policies, framework that promote women’s digital empowerment.

5) Timeline

STAGE I: 5 July : Launch of  the Award
STAGE II: 5 July- 5 September -Nomination stage (This award is open to Organizations and Individuals. Please note that self-nominations are welcome)
Propose a nominee here: http://www.itu.int/en/action/women/gem/Pages/award.aspx
STAGE III:  5 September- 5 October- Selection stage
STAGE IV:  21st October Announced at the PP-14

More details

Monday, July 14, 2014 7:02:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Innovative open source technology for emergency telecommunications

ITU’s Young Innovators Competition 2014 has launched the second of its 2014 series of challenges, soliciting innovations using open source technologies for disaster management and offering winners the chance to win up to USD 10,000 in seed funding, plus the opportunity to showcase their work at ITU Telecom World 2014 this December in Doha.

Challenge-2 asks 18-30 year old start-up founders from across ITU’s 193 Member States to submit their winning ideas via its dedicated crowdsourcing platform. It also seeks innovators with ideas for taking the iconic technologies of the “maker culture” – the community of do it yourself inventors, creators and designers – such as 3D printing or robotics and applying these to saving lives in disaster situations, together with low cost, low entry barrier technologies, to reach the world’s most vulnerable communities.

The deadline for submissions is 31 July 2014, 24:00 UTC+2.

“With their flexibility and adaptability, open source technologies have tremendous potential to be key disaster mitigation tools in situations where a timely response is vital, both to save lives as well as to help rebuild communities after a disaster has occurred,” said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré. “Innovations that are designed to save lives are critical in our quest to mitigate the devastating effect of natural disasters, and I urge young social entrepreneurs worldwide to use their skills in developing these technologies and apply their vision, ambition and creativity to meet this growing global challenge”.

About the Competition
First launched in 2010, this annual competition offers young people the chance to take part in workshops on entrepreneurial skills, opportunities to meet and network with leading ICT players, and to showcase their projects at the InnovationSpace, a dedicated show floor pavilion at ITU Telecom World 2014.

This year's competition comprises of a series of challenges aimed at solving real-life developmental issues through the innovative use of technology with effective social impact. The competition began with Challenge-1 on Local Digital Content, and will continue with further challenges in the run up to ITU Telecom World 2014 in December. Two start-ups will be selected as winners of Challenge-2 by a Selection Committee of experts and invited to attend ITU Telecom World 2014, along with the winners of the other 2014 challenges. Joining them will also be the finalists of the 2013 edition of the competition, who will report on progress of their winning projects.

Visit ideas.itu.int for more information on Challenge-2, to find out more on the winners of Challenge-1, and to apply or comment on submissions. You can also visit the Young Innovators Facebook page or contact us directly at young.innovators@itu.int.

ITU Telecom World 2014 will take place 7-10 December in Doha, Qatar. For more information on how you can be a part of this key event, visit telecomworld.itu.int

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

Monday, July 14, 2014 6:54:21 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Introducing ICT innovations in the elderly care not only contributes to a better life for seniors, but also saves costs on social and healthcare systems. Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS, Joint Research Centre, European Commission) presented the preliminary findings of two case studies of ICT in long-term care from Scotland (UK) and the Limousine Region (France) at the Social Innovation Conference in Brussels in May 2014. The two cases studies are part of the ongoing project called “Long-term care strategies for independent living of elderly people (ICT-AGE)”.

Scottish Telecare Development Programme
The programme addressed the need to reduce healthcare costs of elderly people aged 65+ in 2006-2011. By installing remote emergency systems in elderly homes, the programme achieved €91 million of cost savings and increased the quality of life, safety and independence of more than 43, 000 users. It helped to reduce hospital admissions and stay length, admissions to care homes, and, caring tasks, thereby reducing stress for informal carers and increasing their ability to retain paid employment.

Home Automation and Advanced Telecare
The project in the Limousine region (Creuze, Corrèze and Haute Vienne Departments) in France began in 2010 and focused on preventing falls. Falls are a  major public health problem, costing an estimated €2 billion each year. Sensors, light paths, and alarm systems connected to a Telecare centre aimed to reduce the number of falls, and resulted in reduced hospital admissions, depression of the elderly, and their overall need for care. This programme saved the Corrèze Department an estimated €6.300-7.300 per person a year.

Key Success Factors
Public funding is necessary to support such business models. Nonetheless, other funding sources (user) also contribute to the sustainability of the business model. In addition, political engagement and local stakeholders’ involvement, extensive training to all involved actors and mainstreaming strategies prove to be crucial as well. It is important to run awareness campaigns and promote such projects to drive the development, deployment and adoption of ICT-based services and to inform societies about future solutions in elderly care.

Project website:ICT-AGE

(Source: Careplus)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 3:34:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Japan’s Government will connect all hospitals, clinics and pharmacies nationwide as part of broader plans to address Japan’s ageing population problem, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has told FutureGov.

Yasushi Yoshida, Director General for ICT Strategic Policy Planning at the Ministry, told FutureGov that the government wants to increase the adoption of electronic health records by small and medium-sized hospitals. “Many big hospitals have already introduced electronic health record systems. But it’s not easy for medium to small hospitals to introduce this because of the expenditure involved”, he said.

The government is encouraging these hospitals to use a cloud technology to minimize costs: “We are recommending to medium to small hospitals to use more efficient systems using cloud, since the cost is lower”, he said.

Japan’s government faces the challenge of providing healthcare for a “super-ageing society” and the government is looking at how ICT can be used to collect and analyze healthcare Big Data to address the issue. The government has plans for a longer-term project to improve data collection and analysis by building a nationwide network connecting all hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and nursing centres.

Yoshida explained the current situation: hospitals are connected to a cluster of clinics around them, and there are 150 such clusters across the country. However, these clusters are not connected with each other and information flows only one way from the hospital to the clinics.

“In the future, we would like to connect all hospitals nationwide, including connecting the hospital-clinic clusters with each other”, Yoshida said. “We would like more hospitals and clinics to participate in the network. Information should flow both ways”, he added. The government also plans to include pharmacies and nursing centres in the network, as they are currently excluded from the clusters.

Although there is no official target for the completion of the network, Yoshida hopes to see it completed in the next five years, though he acknowledges that this will be a difficult goal to accomplish in this time frame.

(Source: FutureGov)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 2:03:14 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The International Task Force on Teachers for EFA is a voluntary global alliance of EFA partners working together to address the shortage of qualified teachers needed to achieve universal primary education by 2015 and to provide a quality education for all.

The Task Force is holding a consultation on inclusion and equity in teachers‘policies and practices via an online discussion forum. Input from this consultation will feed into the drafting of a policy brief on this issue.

The following three questions will be asked to the participants in an effort to deepen the themes of inclusion and equity in policies and teaching practices:

1. On a daily basis, how can teacher help to promote equitable and inclusive education?
2. Are there equitable and inclusive teaching policies for marginalized children in your country? Are teachers involved in the implementation of such policies?
3. Which strategies should be put in place in schools to help teachers facilitate inclusion and fair treatment of marginalized children?

The International Task Force on Teachers for EFA is inviting institutions and experts from all regions of the world, including both developing and developed countries, to share the challenges, priorities and practices of their education systems and contribute to discussions and debates in the online forum. We also invite our members to extend the invitation to their respective network(s).

When, local time: Wednesday, 2 July 2014 (All day) to Thursday, 17 July 2014 (All day)
Where: France
Type of Event: Working group/Expert Meeting
Contact: m.lacasse@unesco.org

Further details

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 1:45:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


TOT has been expanding and developing its ‘Telephone for the deaf’ service to address the important need for personal communication tools for hearing impaired individuals, especially in situations where help is needed. There are now 500 telephone booths with the service installed nationwide, including 150 located in Bangkok.

To use the device, callers should go to a TOT public telephone that has an additional keyboard attached. Pick up the phone, insert a TOT public phone card and dial the designated number. The person at the destination must be using either a mobile phone or have a special phone provided by the TOT with a keyboard attached. Then, unlimited text can be sent at a cost of only 3 Baht per call. Once the caller is done he/she  just hangs up and removes the card.

TOT hopes that this service will facilitate hearing disabled individuals in being able to communicate through service equipped public and home phones. The language of the text message can be switched between Thai and English.

For more information the public can contact the TOT Innovation Institute by dialing the TOT hotline 1100, or access www.tot.co.th

(Source: National News Bureau & Public Relations)

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 12:46:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) today announced a Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America Commitment to Action, valued at $3.71 million dollars, to engage 10,000 middle school girls in learning computing concepts. The announcement was made at the CGI America meeting in Denver.

NCWIT’s Commitment to Action will scale the successfully piloted NCWIT AspireIT initiative, which enlists technical high school or college women in designing and leading computing programs for younger girls. This innovative “near-peer” approach allows young women to become role models and build leadership skills while encouraging younger girls to pursue computing.

"This initiative was born from young women’s enthusiasm for technology and desire to pay it forward,” said Ruthe Farmer, Chief Strategy & Growth Officer of NCWIT. "Who better to invite girls to explore and experiment with technology, than the young women they look up to and aspire to be like? NCWIT AspireIT provides the national infrastructure needed to harness this energy and rapidly bridge the computing education gap for thousands of girls nationwide”.

Research shows that peer influences can have a positive effect on girls’ plans to pursue computing. “Near-peer” role models serve as real-life examples of other girls interested in technology and computing while reducing the effects of stereotype threat – reduced confidence and performance when one is reminded of gender stereotypes, such as “girls are not good at math or technology”. Find out more with NCWIT’s Girls in IT: the Facts (www.ncwit.org/thefactsgirls) report.

"Not only has leading an AspireIT program been a tremendous benefit for the students but I have also learned to challenge myself to take charge and inspire the girls through my love of technology,” shared Noor Muyhi, a computer science student at New Mexico State University and an NCWIT AspireIT Program Leader. “My goal is for every girl in the program to feel 110% supported and to leave the camp with a spark of curiosity towards technology fields".

The NCWIT AspireIT pilot has launched 70 programs, providing an estimated 115,000 hours of computing education to over 2,000 girls in 23 states. To fulfill the CGI Commitment NCWIT will engage 600 high school and college members of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing program and 250 partner organizations to co-create and deliver 400 computing-focused after-school programs for middle school girls across the country through 2018. Find out more at www.ncwit.org/aspireit.

Commitment partners include the Intel Foundation, which provided the initial startup funding for NCWIT AspireIT and has made a long-term investment in scaling the program, with additional support from Google, the Northrop Grumman Foundation, Microsoft, Sphero, the UC Irvine Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, and Tata Consultancy Services. Partners provide financial support, technical assistance, hardware and software, curricula, and volunteers to work locally with the programs.

Further details

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 12:39:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 27, 2014


Last week, Gayaza High School, a girls’ institution with a long history of excellence, showcased their e-Learning centre. Ronald Ddungu, the Deputy Head Teacher said they have adopted an inclusive approach to e-Learning where teachers have actively integrated technology and teaching.

Students can now access class notes andhomework and carry out research in a timely manner,allowing them to fully benefit from Uganda’s educational curriculm.

Ddungu said this innovative e-Learning initiative wonGayaza High School USD15,000 during this year’s Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain during March.

“The use of technology in schools in Uganda will help improve the delivery of the curriculum. Gayaza High School will work closely with other schools and mentor their teachers in adopting the use of technology in their work”, Ddungu said.

During a recent tour of the school, Mark East, General Manager of Global Sales and Operations at Microsoft, said, “The government of Uganda needs to set a policy and infrastructure for schools to access internet and technology because Information Technology is a tool that each student needs to have a right to.’

He said, “Teachers, like those in Gayaza, need to learn how to effectively integrate ICT into their curriculum and classrooms. It helps create immersive learning experiences that improve students’ experiences and skills through technology.”

Eastsaid Microsoft’s approach to e-Learning is a not a one-device-fits-all solution. With access to ICT in schools still unevenly distributed, schools across Uganda are at different levels of implementing e-Learning programs and therefore have different needs. “For instance, there is a high teacher absenteeism rate in Uganda, as reported by the BBC, meaning that 40% of public school classrooms don’t have teachers teaching in them,” he said.

The company recently launched the Microsoft4Afrika Virtual Academy, which delivers free IT training from Microsoft experts, and covers topics such as app development, coding, business intelligence and virtualisation.

Microsoft plans to continue delivering relevant, effective and scalable technologies, services and programs. As eLearning progresses in Africa, the company looks forward to continuing its efforts in improving learning for all.

(Source: Business Week Newspaper)

Friday, June 27, 2014 8:39:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
New, mainstreamapproaches and tools are needed to improve visual accessibility for people with low vision , according to a special article in the July issue of Optometry and Vision Science, the official journal of the American Academy of Optometry. “Visual accessibility makes an environment, device, or display useable by those with low vision,“ says Anthony Adams, OD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the journal.

According to a review by Gordan E. Legge, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, vision science, in collaboration with other fields, has a key role to play in developing technologies and designs to promote visual accessibility for the millions of people living with low vision.

In recognition of his pioneering work on low-vision research and visual accessibility, Dr. Legge was named the 2013 Charles F. Prentice Award Lecture Medalist.  Established in 1958, the Charles F. Prentice Medal is awarded annually to an outstanding scientist who has contributed significantly to the advancement of knowledge in the visual sciences.

Low vision is defined as a chronic vision disability that adversely affects daily functioning and that is not correctable by glasses or contact lenses. It is estimated that there are between 3.5 million and 5 million Americans with low vision, and this number is expected to increase as the population ages.

In his Prentice Award Lecture, Dr. Legge—who suffers from low vision himself—proposed to “embed low-vision research more explicitly in the real world” in order to reduce barriers to visual accessibility. He shares examples of his research in two key areas: architectural accessibility and reading accessibility.

Architectural design has great potential to enhance visual accessibility for people with low vision. Dr. Legge gave illustrated examples of how low vision can make it difficult to navigate architectural spaces; these  obstacles and hazards may even change with the light at different times of the day.

His research includes the development of software tools to promote the design of visually accessible spaces. These tools reflect the impact of reduced visual acuity and contrast sensitivity, as well as predict whether architectural features can be seen by people with low vision. Dr. Legge writes, “We need practical models of low vision capable of predicting real-world object visibility”.
Dr. Legge’s work also includes efforts to increase reading accessibility for people with low vision. Advances such as electronic readers provide powerful new tools to improve reading accessibility, but there’s still a lack of knowledge of how best to use the features they provide. Research is needed to understand the interacting effects of variables such as display geometry, visual acuity, viewing distance, print size, and font.

Dr. Legge urges low-vision researchers to work with other disciplines—including software and hardware developers and design professionals—in solving the problems of visual accessibility. He writes, “Where we succeed, we will contribute to vision science by showing how vision functions in the real world, and we will find better ways to reduce barriers facing people with visual impairment”.

Further details

Friday, June 27, 2014 8:33:43 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


MTN Uganda, through the MTN Uganda Foundation, has unveiled a fully equipped,state of the art bus dubbed the “MTN Internet Bus“. The Bus, which is the first of its kind in Uganda, will be a vital tool in carrying out MTN Uganda’s vision of enhancing ICT Education across the country.

The MTN Internet Bus is equipped with sixteen high-end computer workstations, as well as access to High-speed Internet Connectivity Service powered by MTN 3G and 4G LTE technology and Wi-Fi coverage. The Internet Bus is estimated to have cost in excess of Ushs. 600 million andwas unveiled at a Press conference held at MTN’s Nyonyi Garden offices.

At the launch,  MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer Mazen Mroué said the introduction of the MTN Internet Bus is part of MTN Uganda’s new vision of delivering a “Bold, new digital world.“ The company aims to create a unique customer experience, drive sustainable growth and improve MTN customers‘ lives.

Mroué said the MTN Internet Bus, along with other ICT awareness initiatives throughout the country, will serve to develop the technological capacity of Ugandans and strengthen the nation’s economy.  This Bus also plays a vital in briding the gap between rural and urban areas by promoting computer literacy in rural zones.

Further details

Friday, June 27, 2014 8:27:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Savannah Fund is a seed capital fund specializing in USD25,000-USD500,000 early stage investmentsin  high growth technology (web and mobile) startups in sub-Saharan Africa. Initially focused on East Africa, the fund aims to bridge the gap between early stage/angel and venture capital investments  that currently exists in Africa. The Fund combines capital andmentoring networks, both in the region and from Silicon Valley through  an accelerator program, as well as a follow-up independent seed fund, to achieve its goal.

An experienced and technology savvy team, with members who have founded companies or are actively involved in angel investing, manages the fund. Members of the team have also run successful accelerator programs in the past and understand the unique Subsaharan African environment. Theyare backed and supported by local, regional and international networks of “angels“ and venture capitalists on whose expertise they draw to help startups succeed and grow into fully fledged regional or global companies.

They believe in the potential for Africa to become a global technology innovator by developing sustainable for-profit companies that both create jobs and make an impact. Take a look at their accelerator or connect with themon AngelList if you have a more mature startup.

(Source: Savannah-fund)

Friday, June 27, 2014 6:58:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 



IITE, the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, aims to promote equal access to education and inclusion of the most vulnerable segments of society through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).

IITE has strived to improve the access and quality of education for disabled persons by means of ICTs since 1999. Within this framework, the Institute has held a number of international expert meetings and workshops in partnership with well-known experts from various countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia and the USA. This experience enabled the Institute to develop a specialized training course named: "ICTs in Education for People with Special Needs". A team of international experts from Italy, the Russian Federation, Australia, Denmark, and other countries, headed by Dr. Edwards (United Kingdom), developed this course.  The course presents the best international experiences in the field of general and specific ICT application in education for a wide range of people with special educational needs, as well as policy advice.

Policy changes and consolidated efforts of governments and civil society are necessary to reduce the extensive gap that exists in access to, and use of, digital technologies by people with disabilitiesICTs can both ease an individual’s access to life-long learning andcontribute to new career and business opportunities. ICTs also grant vulnerable groups and individuals access to the political, economic, scientific and cultural activities of a society, thereby helping to resolve social inequalities.

As part ofthe UNESCO initiative to promote a broader view of the concept of inclusive education, IITE supportspolicy dialogue to initiate the development of national e-inclusive strategies aimed at the following:

  • increasing disadvantaged and excluded groups` access to ICT infrastructure;
  • promoting basic ICT literacy and vocational training programs targeted specifically at the most vulnerable segments of society;
  • and supporting regional, sub-regional and inter-country cooperation and exchange of good practiceson the extension of ICTsto excluded groups.
ICTs offer great potential to support life-long learning for all groups of learners, including those with disabilities. The application of ICTs can compensate for the lack of natural functions, thus contributing to appropriate learning environments for students with disabilities.

The direct beneficiaries of the activities in this field are policy and decision-makers who are responsible for or involved in the development of educational policies and plans; experts in teacher training and vocational development; as well asteachers themselves.

(Source: UNESCO)

Friday, June 27, 2014 6:41:50 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, June 25, 2014


British Council is taking a lead role in the development of a unified curriculum for integration of ICT in education for the purpose of the rollout of the National Laptop Project. A joint workshop was held at the Kitengela Conference Centre & Resort Park, and brought together key stakeholders from the Jubilee Laptop Project (JLP) Consortium consisting of Teachers Service Commission (TSC), Ministry of Education, Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, Microsoft, Intel, Technology Partners, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, UNESCO, and Kenya Literature Bureau.

The national laptop project is expected to run from January 2014 by which time 50,000 teachers need to have been trained on ICT integration in the classroom, besides device assembly, applications uploading, content development and delivery of devices to schools among others. It is envisaged that the teachers training should be done by end of August 2013 before which there should have been induction workshops for technical teams, master trainers and training of trainers.

This writing workshop represents the first stage towards achievement of ICT integration capacity building for primary school teachers in preparation of the school laptop project. This meeting aimed to review existing content from various curricula on ICT skills and integration with a view to isolating relevant content. Thereafter, the involved stakeholders plan to rewrite each module with an emphasis to enhancing pedagogy for the teaching profession and improving learning outcomes. With this in mind, we hope to harmonize the ICT integration curriculum and adjust it within working objectives of the UNESO ICT competency standards. It is also key to note the aim of developing relevant manuals, ICT baseline survey tools and web-based collaboration systems for trainers.

Of particular importance was the time given to participants to interrogate the available content in detail and come up with a synchronized curriculum on key areas, some of which are good practice from the Badiliko and Spark a Child’s Digital Future projects. These areas include: school leader training, 21stcentury skills, basic ICT skills , internet, mail groups, social media networks, ICT integration in teaching and learning, ICT integrated lessons and managing environments, interactive digital content, safety, security and ethical issues, first line basic maintenance and support, assessment , monitoring and evaluation.

A harmonization curriculum team has since been established, and comprises 30 key stakeholders. It is envisaged that this team will address a number of key expectations mainly touching on: content format, identifying teachers for training of trainers and master trainers, structures for teacher management (support structure and types), consolidation of partners in curriculum harmonization, gap analysis,wholesome retooling of the teacher: online services (registration, pay slips, promotion, profile updates, casualty, real-time data, poll survey and collaborations),budget and sponsorship for capacity development and incentives: certification, professional development and promotion.

The teachers are the custodians of the ICT project, and will actually do the groundwork in terms of equipping students with these very vital IT skills. By directly involving them in these preliminary stages, they have a great opportunity to exercise ownership of the project. Having the teachers input at this early stages means that the final product content, execution, structures and workings are clear from the very beginning and resonate with their specific needs.

Through this initiative also, the government, will be able to aptly roll out the ICT project in line with its vision of bringing ICT skills to schools. By getting necessary input from all the key stakeholders, the government is guaranteed of getting an end- product that resonates with the people, by the people and for the people.

Source: British Council

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 1:20:33 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, June 19, 2014


UNESCO’s Institute of IT in Education (IITE) with the University of London  recently launched its first Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) on "ICT in primary education". More than 7000 participants from 166 countries are registered, with over 3000 participants from emerging economies.

The MOOC is designed as a professional development course for teachers, head-teachers, leaders and policymakers in primary education, but is open to all with an interest in Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The course team has instructors from 8 different countries.

The course will look at  why and how  teachers integrate ICT into primary education. It analyses examples from schools in different parts of the world, and brings professional teachers, head-teachers and policymakers together to share their best ideas and inspiring stories. The course materials were developed by a group of international experts, led by Professor Diana Laurillard of the University of London, based on studies carried out for UNESCO IITE.

The basis of the course is not a particular theoretical approach, but a collection of good and interesting experiences and examples of ICT in primary education from different countries across the world. It is based on the conviction that ICT, when used well, is a vital tool to help all children achieve their learning potential.

This first course, launched on 27 May 2014, is free and open to all. It runs for 6 weeks, and provides 4-10 hours of study each week, depending on the pathway the participant chooses to take. There is an option of receiving a certificate of completion, and/or a statement of accomplishment. Potential participants can see the course description and register here.

(Source: UNESCO)

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:57:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
"Knowing how to code?" or "literacy of the XXI century? " - UNESCO's YouthMobile initiative and Intel Software  hosted a round table on this issue on Friday, June 13, the day of the5th edition of Futur en Seine (CNAM, Paris), with the support Cap Digital.



Learning how to code is  is no longer only about training engineers, but rather to give all citizens the means to create, work, and  manage a lot of information, and take a critical look at technologywhile having fun. In this context, “coding” must be seen as a new way to learn more than mere “coding techniques”.

With its new "YouthMobile" initiative, UNESCO wants as many girls and boy as possible to have the opportunity, through the code, to use technology to address local and global issues related to sustainable development. UNESCO and its partners strive to provide young people with the high level skills and confidence necessary for the development, promotion and sale of mobile applications.

Many volunteers around the world are already deploying “coding” trainings, but these programmes are often not easy for parents or teachers, rather than technicians, to replicate, translate, or adapt.

Intel Coding for Kids, an open source package of trainings and software incorporating international best practices in this field, meets the criteria of UNESCO's YouthMobile initiative. Educational and/or non-profit partner associations can freely adapt and build their own programmes, within the framework of international deployment.

In this approach, code is used as a means of artistic creation, and to facilitate understanding of social, scientific and environmental problems. The proposed pedagogical model is based on the peer-to-peer concept. The code is introduced very gradually and at each step the learner acquires ready-to-use expertise.

In addition, the round table organized by UNESCO and Intel Software will focus on other innovative approaches recently adopted in France, such as by Simplon.co and Ecole42, and will try to assess the feasibility and sustainability of larger deployments and similar initiatives, particularly in emerging countries.

The Futur en Seine festival will take place from 12 to 22 June 2014, in the heart of Paris and across the Île-de-France. For more information:http://www.futur-en-seine.fr/fens2014

(Source: UNESCO)

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:50:23 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Ghana's Open Learning Exchange (OLE) is introducing innovative teaching and learning models which involve the use of affordable technology tools to make learning more pleasurable, and improve universal literacy. Local experts and politicians believe technology is the ultimate solution to alleviate the country's low literacy levels. Last year, former finance minister Dr. Kwesi Botchwey called on students to take advantage of technology to enhance their knowledge.

According to BizTech Africa, these tools include the Raspberry Pi server, which houses the OLE's Basic eLearning Library (BeLL).  A Raspberry Pi is a small computer that uses an ARM 11 processor running at 700MHz with 512MB RAM. It uses much less power than a PC, and takes up much less space. 

OLE said the BeLL system, which is powered by the Raspberry Pi, is designed to work on or off both the electric grid andthe Internet. This ensures that the most marginalised students in resource-limited areas have access to high quality learning resources. OLE said the Ghana National BeLL network will be used to update each of the School BeLLs periodically with new resources.

A feedback functionality worked into the BeLL system will then send usage data (such as pupils‘ and teachers‘ comments and ratings of the effectiveness of the resources) to the Ghana BeLL, which would make such data available to educational authorities, curriculum developers,and resource developers, among others.

This, OLE said, will provide unprecedented, rich data that can help improve the effectiveness of the learning materials and strategies to achieve universal child literacy.

Most of Ghana's Grade 6 schoolchildren still cannot read or write properly even after five years of primary education. The majority of Ghanaian adults' handwriting is almost unreadable and their reading skills in English are also often very poor. It is this alarming situation that prompted OLE Ghana to team up with World Vision Ghana to launch the Ghana Reads project.

OLE Ghana director Kofi Essien told the press that the Ghana Reads project, currently being piloted in 28 schools, provides low-cost tablets and hand-held technologies to school children. This project is backed by effective pedagogical and teacher support strategies to increase access to high quality, interactive learning resources in the classroom.
                                                                                                                                                                   
 (Source: OAfrica )

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:38:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Digital Literacy 2.0 (Dlit2.0) is a European project, funded as part ofthe Lifelong Learning Programme, that aims to help you use Web2.0 applications in your everyday life.

Web 2.0 can ease your daily life and will help you to
- stay in contact with family & friends
- find bargains and snips
- have a voice in public debate
- make use of services that are free of charge ... and much more.

DLit2.0 follows an ICT-based “train the trainer“ and “qualify the users“ approach. It sets out to develop and implement training programmes for staff in informal learning settings such as public libraries, community and care centres to enable them to use Web 2.0 to provide ICT based informal instruction and distance learning to socially disadvantaged people. Once they are trained, these staff members will enable new Internet users to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to make full and safe use of the World Wide Web, improving their motivation to learn and empowering them to participate in social life. Essentially, Web 2.0 provides learning opportunities and reduces educational barriers.

DLit2.0 compiles best practices, strategies and success criteria from different European countries into one comprehensive and innovative strategy, with special emphasis on innovative, non-formal learning approaches and collaboration models. The project reflects transnational, transsectoral and interdisciplinary cooperation and creates value by based on knowledge, empowering people in inclusive societies and ensuring that citizens have access to lifelong learning toolsto master "New Skills for New Jobs".

Further details

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:28:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |