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 Friday, January 18, 2013
The role of ICTs as development enablers is more widely understood today as access to new technologies, particularly mobile phones, has grown exponentially. Mobile phone subscriptions exceeded six billion by the end of 2012, three-quarters of which were in the developing world.  However, women are at a disadvantage: they are 21% less likely to own a mobile phone than men, according to the latest Broadband Commission Report.

According to Magdy Martinez Soliman, UNDP's Bureau for Development Policy, development presents an opportunity to effectively address this and other gender gaps.  He speaks about sustainable human development, about the ability to make choices and lead a healthy, long and educated life with all that we value, said Let us bear in mind that ICTs are not neutral. Existing gender inequalities, pervasive in many countries, can be exacerbated by ICTs, when unequal access to education for example turns into digital ignorance. Not having female teachers and lack of local security are powerful triggers of girls’ dropout. Women will not be able to access ICT community centers if safety issues are not properly addressed.

We are determined advocates of democratic governance and for us women's access to ICTs is a governance issue. Public policies and the private sector need to address the root causes head-on.  Women who lag behind in ICT skills are less employable, face further disadvantage and will end at the lower echelons of the labour market.   
ICT solutions comprising the Internet and mobile technologies have great potential to bring vital improvements to the lives of the most vulnerable populations.  For example:

• health care delivery through remote consultations
• agricultural development through access to pricing information and extension services;
• education and learning through online resources
• banking services through mobile banking
• participation in decision-making processes  by enhancing access to public information

The UN task team on the post-2015 Development Agenda has issued a first report arguing that “Globalization offers great opportunities, but its benefits are at present very unevenly shared”. Part of the inequality is gender-related. Part of the response must be about women’s empowerment. And part of this empowerment can be fostered through ICTs.

(Source: UNDP)

Friday, January 18, 2013 2:17:10 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
An ambitious election campaign promise realized as a government mega project, Thailand’s One Tablet Per Child Policy (OTPC) is a crucial milestone in the country’s education reform. It has the aim of empowering young students with latest pedagogy and learning experience regardless of location, distance, and socio-economic standing.
A total of THB 3 billion (US$ 96 million) were spent on the world’s largest order—nearly 900,000 tablet PCs for education, from which the government has successfully placed 868,886 in the hands of first grade students countrywide.

“We are the pioneers in ordering a large number of tablets and handing them out to elementary students”, says Gp Capt Navamavadhana, Advisor to the ICT Minister in Thailand.

Navamavadhana was involved in all elements of the OTPC process. He is a committee member and Assistant Secretary to the OTPC Policy Commission, a chairman of Technical Sub-committee purchasing the tablets, and a technical advisor to the Tablet Inspection and Reception Commission.
The OTPC project is collaboration between the Education Ministry (MOE) and ICT Ministry (MICT) in which the former is responsible for the project’s implementation and the later for the purchase of devices, and software integration.

Navamavadhana headed his team’s visit to China to carefully inspect, compare and select appropriate devices. Finally, the MICT decided to spend THB 2460 (US$82) per device, each of which features Google’s Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, 1GB RAM, 1.2 GHz single core CPUs, and storage capacity of 8GB. The MICT was given from February until early November this year to complete market research, purchase, software development, and distribution of all the tablets including an additional 55,000 tablets with different specifications for teachers.

Although the purchase was completed and the devices have been securely delivered to students, Navamavadhana cannot sit back and feel relief. For him, this is merely a small step towards reforming the country’s education system.

To further expand the OTPC project to successfully reform Thai education, the government has in mind the idea of giving tablets with different specifications to students from different grades.

Future details

Friday, January 18, 2013 2:10:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, January 17, 2013
The purpose of this GSIM tool is to facilitate gender equality and women empowerment in and through media of all forms, irrespective of the technology used. The tool addresses topics related to internal media policy and strategies, as well as to capacity building. It is versatile as with it media organizations can:
 
•    assess their gender sensitivity,
•    formulate necessary policies and strategies to address gaps detected,
•    set measureable goals, and
•    monitor progress towards desired goals.

The GSIM tool also informs training needs as it contains all the salient elements of gender and media.
The GSIM tool is a non-prescriptive set of indicators, designed for adaptation and use particularly by media of all forms. It is also relevant and useful to citizens’ media groups advocating for gender equality, media associations, journalists’ unions and clubs, media self-regulatory bodies, government entities, academic institutions and research centres such as journalism, communication, technology schools and universities.

It is divided into two interrelated, rather than discrete, categories, each addressing the main axes of gender and media:

•    Category A - Actions to foster gender equality within media organizations (divided into five subsections), and
•    Category B - Gender portrayal in media content (two subsections).

Each category is organized according to five dimensions, namely: User group; Critical area of concern; Strategic objective; Indicators; and Means of verification.
Annexed to the GSIM tool is a set of “self-assessment” case studies carried out by partner broadcasting associations/unions. They provide a snapshot of gender mainstreaming efforts within selected media houses representing all regions of the world.     

Further details

Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:28:13 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Local software production and development can spur economic growth in Africa and other developing economies, says a report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

The 'Information Economy Report 2012' shows that ICT software and services are dominated by the developed world but developing economies are catching up.
It says that piracy, poor Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and inadequate protection of intellectual property rights are some of the major challenges hindering ICT software development and service expansion in developing regions such as Africa. However, for Africa and the Middle East the biggest challenge to the software industry is limited access to venture capital.

 The report urges governments in developing countries — significant buyers of software — to help the software sector by putting in place policy measures to facilitate the development of affordable ICT infrastructure and introducing legal frameworks to protect intellectual property rights.
Enhanced access to ICTs in developing countries is widening opportunities in areas including health, education, governance and business creation and expansion, according to the report.

"Software production can contribute to the structural transformation of economies — that is, wean them away from dependence on low-technology goods and on a limited number of products for export", the report states.

 Kenya and South Africa top the continent in supplying software and services for domestic consumption, with areas of focus being smartphones and tablets, as well as mobile applications driven by mobile broadband Internet services.

"Software development is strategic for Africa's development as it offers a lot of opportunities", said Aida Opoku-Mensah, director of the ICT and Science & Technology Division of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), at the launch. Adapting software to local contexts helps firms to manage resources better, obtain information more efficiently and [set up] cost-effective business operations", she said.

Software development in African nations also creates market opportunities for developers and boosts learning, innovation and job creation in those countries, she explained.

(Source: SciDev.Net)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:18:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
On Wednesday 9th ITU opened its doors to some 350 students from across Europe as host of the Model UN programme run by the Lycée International of Ferney-Voltaire #FerMUN13.

From 8:30am, the entrance lobbies and reception areas were abuzz with young voices as 200+ students from the Ferney Lycée and another 150 students from the Germany, the UK, the British School of Geneva, and different cities and towns across France including Grasse, Grenoble, Lyon and Paris, arrived to collect their badges and start their lobbying work.

The event gave ITU a chance to showcase its exceptional conference organizing skills, as teams from across the Union assisted the Ferney MUN Committee with everything from registration and badging to room allocation and seating plans, audio-visual and live webcast support, training for student interpreters and translators, onsite photo and video production, graphic design and printing for promotional banners and two onsite FerMUN13 magazines, and media relations activities.

The FerMUN club was founded in 2006, and is the world’s first fully bilingual MUN programme, thanks to the merging of the French and English chapters last year.
ITU Secretary-General Dr Touré told a packed room of student delegates, teachers and UN staff that he was impressed to be surrounded by so many bright and inspirational young people who were committed to debating technology issues in a spirit of international cooperation. “As young men and women, you hold the keys to the future in your hands. In a hyper-connected world, that future includes ICTs in every aspect of modern life – from schools and hospitals and government offices, to homes and businesses and public spaces. Yours is the most connected generation that has ever lived. That connectedness offers fantastic opportunities for engagement and empowerment, as information is accessed, used, created and shared to build tomorrow’s Knowledge Society”, he said.

In recognition of ITU’s role as the UN’s specialized agency for information and communication technology, the FerMUN13 students chose the theme of ICTs as the way forward in development, peace and prosperity.

Eight different committees discussed issues ranging from the combat against cyber-terrorism in the Disarmament and International Security Committee, to e-agriculture as a solution to the problem of global food security, and whether satellite imaging can be a useful tool in development.

Students also discussed whether telecommunications can help achieve greater empowerment, equality, education and employment for girls through greater access to ICT opportunities. The group’s Human Rights Council debated whether or not access to the Internet should be considered a human right, and whether international legislation regulating social media platforms should be put in place.

Finally, the students of the ECOSOC Committee discussed the importance of development of an online education system to ensure access to education for all, and whether telecommunications should be considered as a necessity for economic development.

(Source: ITU Blog)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:10:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Report calls for doubling the number of women and girls in developing countries who are online to 1.2 billion in 3 years.

Intel Corporation released a groundbreaking report on "Women and the Web," unveiling concrete data on the enormous Internet gender gap in the developing world and the social and economic benefits of securing Internet access for women. To better understand the gender gap, Intel commissioned this study and consulted with the U.S. State Department's Office of Global Women's Issues, UN Women and World Pulse, a global network for women. The report issues a call to action to double the number of women and girls online in developing countries from 600 million today to 1.2 billion in 3 years.

 On average, across the developing world nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the Internet, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report. Further, the study found that one in five women in India and Egypt believes the Internet is not appropriate for them.
 "This study demonstrates the enormity of the global Internet gender gap and more importantly, identifies specific ways the public, private and civil society sectors can work together to dramatically increase Internet access for women and girls", said Shelly Esque, vice president of Intel's Corporate Affairs Group and president of the Intel Foundation. "Intel has worked for decades to improve education around the world. If we can empower women and girls with the tools, resources and opportunities they need to succeed, we will transform their lives and the lives of everyone they touch".

 Seeing another 600 million women online would mean that 40 percent of women and girls in developing countries -- nearly double the share today -- would have access to the transformative power of the Internet. This goal, if realized, could potentially contribute an estimated US $13 billion to $18 billion to annual GDP across 144 developing countries.

 "With the powerful capabilities the Internet enables -- to connect, to learn, to engage, to increase productivity, and to find opportunities -- women's lack of access is giving rise to a second digital divide, one where women and girls risk being left further and further behind", said Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues at the U.S. Department of State."My hope is that this report will catalyze action to close the Internet gender gap. This will require knowledge, leadership, determination and collaboration among governments, public institutions, corporations, and civil society to tackle the wide range of gender-specific barriers to Internet access".

The full report can be viewed at http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/technology-in-education/women-in-the-web.html.

(Source: Intel)

Further details

Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:01:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Two lines written in a social network can awake a sleepy language and cause deep feelings inside of people. Under the name of tweets, published five times a day through various phrases made up with one hundred forty characters, a language that may sound distant and preterit becomes close and present, living in the realms of Twitter.
That is happening with the account @hablemosquechua. "We are taking a language that is a bit asleep to instant language technology that is Twitter, like a robotic memory aid"; says Kiko Mayorga, codirector of Escuelab, laboratory that develops technologies to meet local needs.

When they started over a year ago, they used only 4 words: water, fire, sea and sun. Then Irma added fluency to her native language that she learned in Apurimac, and which she had to combine with the Spanish when she moved to Arequipa, forced by terrorist violence.

"Quechua does not adapt easily to technology terms, as it is the Spanish language, it is harder”, says Irma. Five years ago she started working in the free software translation self-taught, advised by the American historian Amos Batto. Even though there is Office in Quechua made by Microsoft, its collective Runasimipi translated Abiword into Quechua, a free program. She likes that her work can integrate more people.

"Before, I always found softwares provided in English and Spanish but not in Quechua. I am happy that it exists now; it is like having the right to walk freely in the streets. Now there is a strong rebound in learning the Quechua language and should give the right to learn this language to everybody", says Irma.

(Source: Newspaper El Comercio)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:56:09 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Indigenous communities in the rainforest of Africa's Congo Basin have no legal rights to the land that they and their ancestors have been using for centuries. And with logging, mining, industrial plantation and conservation activities spreading fast in the area, there is a growing urgency to map their hunting and gathering areas and preserve their livelihoods.

The Rainforest Foundation UK has come up with an extraordinary solution: community mapping with GPS technology on cell phones. The forest communities map the land they use for hunting and gathering to record how the land is used and what the rate of dependency on the land is in order to help preserve their access to the forest.

Over the last 10 years, the foundation’s participatory mapping programme has demonstrated that forest communities are capable of accurately defining the lands they occupy and use with the help of geo-technologies in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. It has so far trained over 200 mapping facilitators and 40 GIS technicians from civil society and government in participatory approaches, not to mention over 1,000 local community mappers. To date these have supported over 300 forest communities to produce fully geo-referenced maps of their lands and resources, covering over two million hectares of forest.

GPS and associated technologies help communities express and integrate this knowledge in the context of other data sets such as the presence of logging concessions or mining permits.

This is all about the empowerment of local communities and the promotion of dialogue and communication among different actors. Community ownership and involvement in the mapping process also means that communities learn about their rights and how to defend them. ‘Crowdsourced maps’, says Georges Thierry Handja, mapping coordinator of the London-based foundation, ‘are particularly effective when used in conjunction with national laws or international agreements and treaties that protect the rights of communities in forest areas.

(Source: ICT Update)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:49:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
How can mobile technologies advance literacy for all, especially in countries that are “book-poor but mobile-rich”? How can they support teachers’ professional development to improve education quality? And how can they further gender equality in education and increase opportunities for women and girls?

These specific Educations for All-related questions will be addressed during the Second Mobile Learning Week (MLW) which will take place in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 18 to 22 February 2013.  

At the end of 2012 there were an estimated six billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world. The unprecedented uptake of mobile phones in particular, in both developed and developing countries open up new possibilities for increasing education access, equity and quality. Mobile learning, a growing field of ICT in education, has the potential to significantly impact the delivery of education.  

MLW 2013 is the UN flagship mobile learning event and will be attended by an international audience of ICT in education specialists, practitioners, policy makers and representatives from relevant NGOs and corporations.  

As with UNESCO’s successful first MLW from 12-16 December 2011, the 2013 edition of MLW will share innovative ways of learning with, and through, mobile technologies, and how they can help achieve the Education for All goals and improve the quality of education.
A two-day symposium, from 18 to 19 February, forms the backbone of the event and features keynote speakers, demonstrations of mobile content and technology, and thematic breakout sessions.  

On 20 February, UNESCO, in partnership with the GSMA, will host an invitation-only meeting of high-level government officials to discuss issues relating to mobile learning and policy. 

A series of webinars will take place on 21 and 22 February. These online events will allow people all over the world to discuss topics related to mobile learning and will be moderated by leading thinkers in the field of ICT in education.  
 As the UN agency tasked with coordinating EFA, UNESCO is committed to investigating how information and communication technology—of which mobile devices are the most widespread—can help further progress towards Education for All.

(Source: UNESCO)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:44:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
UNESCO’s Gender Equality in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) community is looking for groups and initiatives that promote women’s role and representation in FOSS. This will allow building a comprehensive repository of FOSS Groups and Initiatives by and for Women and Girls.

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is liberally licensed software that grants users the right to use, study, adapt and distribute its design through the availability of its source code. Such approach to the use and development of software encourages innovation and skills-building.

FOSS has dramatically changed the way software is produced, distributed, supported and used. However, most of the problems pertaining to gender inequalities in the software industry have been duplicated in the FOSS field. According to UNESCO’s Report on Gender Equality and Free and Open Source Software, globally less than 20 per cent of ICT developers and FOSS users are women. Furthermore, women’s entry level wages are only 17 per cent of men’s wages. Figures are especially worrying in FOSS. Only 2 per cent of professionals working in FOSS are women, compared to 28 per cent in proprietary software.

For this reason, UNESCO calls on FOSS communities to build a comprehensive list of FOSS Groups and Initiatives for Women and Girls. UNESCO encourages women’s and girls’ active participation in all aspects of the development and use of FOSS at all levels: cultural, economic, political and technical.

The objectives of the repository are the following:

•    to raise awareness about the gender gaps in FOSS;
•    to give more visibility to women-led FOSS groups and activities, including their important role as models and mentors for women and girls interested in FOSS;
•    to highlight women’s representation and achievements in FOSS, and dedicated activities;
•    to provide a platform where different FOSS groups can create collaborative efforts, exchange information through relevant NGOs, associations, business, academia and   the public sectors, and promote initiatives contributing to women's participation and advancement in FOSS.

Contributions can be send by e-mail to: foss@unesco.org or join the UNESCO FOSS community by providing the following information:
•    for groups: name of the group, national or regional scope, a brief introduction and the link;
•    for initiatives/activities: title and a brief introduction including goals, status and achievements.

Further details

Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:34:48 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Open Educational Resources, or OERs, offer a potential tool for impacting education in developing countries and fast growing economies, particularly in the emerging technology hubs of Africa. These open, freely available educational resources can provide top education for people who don’t have access to universities or education in developing countries, but there is fear that educational resources created in highly developed countries will be of little use to those in developing countries because of cultural and economic differences.

Open Educational Resources are described by UNESCO as being teaching, learning or research materials that are free to distribute or adapt. The MOOC is a great example of an OER, and organizations like Coursera, Udacity and edX are working in conjunction with top universities in the States and around the world to get university courses online and accessible the world over. Connexions, a global repository of educational content, has resources at all levels of education, and the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME) set up the OER Commons to give teachers and students access to some 30,000 educational resources online.

There has been a huge amount of debate about the relevance of these kinds of resources in the developing world, particularly in Africa, a continent which is currently seeing rapid economic growth and technological innovation. Using open source materials in developing countries could potentially lead to a greater knowledge gap between the developed world and the developing world, with Africans becoming consumers of knowledge rather than producers. Because of the high cost involved in the creation of OERs, African countries with fewer resources may not have the means to create and distribute their own materials and resources.

On other hand, there is already a push toward open information sharing going on in many of Africa’s tech hubs. Organizations like Siyavula in South Africa and others around the Continent are creating OERs for use in their own countries and in wider Africa, and are creating a pan-African community of resource creators. OpenRwanda is a web portal educating and encouraging Rwandans to use the open source materials available to them. The Peer2Peer University in South Africa and the African Virtual University, a pan-African intergovernmental organization both offer free online courses with the aim of increasing access to education in their home continent. While progress is being made, it is still necessary for governments and policymakers to foster the development of OER materials that are relevant to education systems across Africa.

There were many who agreed with the motion, while the opposition argued that there is a lot of negative potential around OERs. Neil Butcher, OER Strategist for the Southern African Institute of Distance Education (SAIDE), suggested that OERs were just the tip of the iceberg, and that the educational sector needed a fundamental overhaul.

Further details

Thursday, January 17, 2013 8:25:53 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Radio broadcasting is a powerful tool that enables communication to many isolated rural villages and towns in developing countries. For many of these rural communities, radio broadcasts are often the only effective way to solicit important information to a large audience.

Most recently in Uganda, community operated educational programmes are being broadcast to remote localities in an effort to reach students that have limited access to educational resources.

Since its establishment in 2003, Nakaseke community radio has served as a forum and knowledge portal for poor rural communities in Nakaseke, a newly created district located 75km north of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. Nakaseke radio operates in the Nakaseke Community Multimedia Centre (CMC), and is part of a piloted series of Multipurpose Community Telecentres (MCT) established by the African Information Society Initiatives to test and assess the impact and viability of MCT’s in rural Africa.

Education is one the station’s main programme foci and recently Nakaseke Community radio, together with primary teachers from government and private schools, started a special programme called The Radio Quiz Competition as a challenge to students to perform better and hopefully raise the low literacy levels and poor academic performance of students in the impoverished district.

The programme targets all schools in the district, which has a total of 95 primary schools (both government and private), and 13,401 pupils, with a 1:75 teacher – pupil ratio.

These schools are scattered in different localities, thus making transport to the radio station difficult and unfortunately limiting participation, but the radio broadcast bridges the geographical gap and helps educate the students who are unable to compete.

Radio Quiz Competition runs live every Sunday over the community radio. Three schools are hosted, with each school represented by two pupils in a live question and answer session that is conducted by a panel of teachers from local schools. These teachers set the questions and also provide answers and explanations if the students are incorrect – for the benefit of listeners.

Winning schools are often awarded prizes, mostly scholastic materials, donated by the radio programme’s listeners (parents), NGOs/CBOs and some local leaders. The successful school advances to the next round and this process continues up to the final stage.

Further details

(Source: eLearning Africa)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:11:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), in partnership with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and leading network operator Millicom International Cellular S.A., launched an innovative project to bring mobile financial services to women entrepreneurs throughout Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana. Over a period of 18 months, this Global Development Alliance will provide over 4,000 women with business skills training and valuable opportunities to increase their income through mobile retail channels.

In launching this new Global Development Alliance, USAID Chief Innovation Officer, Maura O’Neill, remarked: “Our opportunity to economically empower women through powerful, wide-reaching mobile technologies is more realizable now than ever before. But our ability to succeed requires coordinated and collective action. As such, we value our partnership with the private sector and influential foundations, such as Millicom and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. The components of this partnership are ground-breaking, and we are excited to watch them unfold for the benefit of women and their families in Tanzania, Rwanda and Ghana”.

Cherie Blair noted, “Women entrepreneurs stand to gain a great deal from selling mobile money products. With the right business training and working capital available, women entrepreneurs can benefit from being part of a mobile operator's value chain. Setting up mobile sales provides additional household income and the opportunity for these women to be financially independent”.

The women involved will have access to 12-month working capital loans for their mobile money businesses, distributed to the women entrepreneurs through Millicom’s mobile financial services platform. The initiative will deliver financial literacy and business development trainings for the women entrepreneurs, to support them in managing their loan repayments and their mobile money agent business.

Hans-Holger Albrecht, President and CEO for Millicom commented: “I am proud that we at Millicom can be part of financial inclusion in Africa. This public-private initiative with renowned partners such as the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and USAID will foster women’s entrepreneurship to the benefit of all in the local communities. The initiative will deliver financial literacy and business development training for the women entrepreneurs to support them in managing their mobile money agent business.”

This partnership will present opportunities for women mobile money agents to become profitable while at the same time attracting and retaining new customers. By increasing the number of female agents, this project aims to lower the barriers that women face in accessing financial service and to promote the innovative adoption of mobile technology amongst these women. It also aims to design a successful model for mobile operators around the world to replicate, in order to expand mobile money operations and financial inclusion for the unbanked.

(Source: USAID)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 5:05:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Connectivity between patients requiring medical advice and the hospital is practical and effectively provides crucial medical support. BNH Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, believes in investing in communication technology fundamentals to connect health anywhere, and anytime.

Despite being centrally located between Silom and Sathorn Road, Bangkok’s business, financial, and entertainment districts, BNH’s network reaches further under the “Urban Community” concept.

“Virtual Emergency Room (ER)”, launched in 2011, serves as a direct means of communication between BNH’s Emergency Room (ER) and patients via Skype. Initially, this telehealth service covered only nearby hotels, serviced apartments and condominiums where many foreigners, tourists, and foreign businesspeople live but has now expanded beyond this.

Patients or helpers can speak to and see the nurses in the ER from wherever they are with simple tools including internet connection, a computer, a tablet PC or a smart phone that supports video calls. People wishing to contact the hospital need to add the hospital identification “bnhhospital” to their contact list.

BNH’s Emergency Room (ER) staff is on standby 24/7 to receive calls and provide medical advice and support. Using a web camera, the nurses can see the condition of the patients, assess the situation and provide advice based on their findings. Bystanders can be instructed and guided to provide first aid and even Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) while the ambulance is dispatched.

The Virtual ER project has been managed by co-operation between the hospital’s international marketing and IT department. A network system for Virtual ER has been installed separately from the main hospital’s network to create an independent and dedicated connection. In the ER, computers and high-definition cameras for Skype have been configured exclusively for this project.

(Source: FutureGov)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:58:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Small-scale businesses are drivers for growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. When these businesses succeed, so does the greater economy.

IICD, a non-profit foundation that specializes in information and communication technologies as a tool for development, supports farmers, local entrepreneurs and youth in Africa to improve their business performance and income. Hundreds of Ghanaians in the Northern Region are receiving computer training from IICD to help them reach even more customers. Nearly all have seen great success.

Examples from the video succinctly show the benefits of ICT training. Agatha, a traditional weaver in Northern Ghana, has been trained by IICD to use computers. Her business skills are strong and she buys materials for her weaving online. She makes designs on the computer as well. Her costs have decreased and income has increased. Michael, a carpenter, has also benefited from the ICT training. He now uses computers to communicate with customers and look for jobs. Production has increased rapidly.

Now, imagine the net economic result when hundreds of entrepreneurs utilize ICT to earn a living. What empowerment!

(Source: OAfrica)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:54:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
A team of four Chadian women living abroad in Paris have launched a new cultural website, La beauté tchadienne. They are not new to the Internet; the site has evolved from a successful Facebook page (18,133+ likes!), Blogger blog, and Twitter account.

The authors recognize the power of technology to bring citizens closer together – something we admire greatly. In a detailed post on December 17th, the ladies of LBT explained the mission of the site. We translated the (powerful) goals as:

  • to contribute to the reputation of Chad

  • to promote Chadian culture

  • to enable democratic debate

  • to support victims and develop solidarity

  • to create a sense of patriotism

Recent posts highlight various recipes, beauty contest winners, and other various cultural events. The emphasis on women is refreshing as well.

LBT is definitely a site to watch as there really is minimal current web content representing Chad. Although the site is not based in Chad, it still serves an important purpose and can serve to encourage further local content creation from within the country as well as from afar.

(Source: OAfrica)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:50:36 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Public libraries in South Africa engage with local communities to preserve indigenous knowledge. This involves teaching them to use ICT tools.

Nowadays, ICTs can help to document and disseminate indigenous knowledge. In South Africa, it is mainly libraries that have accepted the challenge of preserving indigenous knowledge systems. For example, the consortium of eThekwini Municipal Libraries, which serves 89 local public libraries in the Durban area (Durban is the second-largest city of South Africa), started a crowdsourcing experiment to collect local indigenous knowledge.

This Ulwazi programme mainly records Zulu culture, but it has the broader aim of capturing the mix and interaction of different cultures in the Durban area. Examples of indigenous knowledge collected through the Ulwazi programme are traditional celebrations, traditional clothing, Zulu proverbs, traditional folk tales, the use of spiritual herbs and traditional agricultural methods.

The Ulwazi programme has a collaborative online community memory database of local indigenous knowledge. It relies on the community to deliver content and post it on the web. The community assumes ownership of the database, while the library focuses on custodianship of the information resource. Community participation ensures that local knowledge is collected, recorded and preserved, and in the process it therefore shares knowledge, develops people’s skills, creates job opportunities and empowers local communities.

The Ulwazi Community Memory website has been developed in the form of a wiki, an open-source webpage designed to enable contributions and modifications from multiple users. It also runs a blog and other social software applications, such as Facebook and Twitter.

At the moment Ulwazi does not have a process for collecting indigenous knowledge via mobile phones, but this has been under discussion and should be rolled out in the next year or so.

Indigenous knowledge is collected from local communities through community journalists, members of the public who can register an account and submit a story on a more ad-hoc basis, and through direct engagement with local residents often through community groups. Community journalists are actively recruited. They are generally younger people from the communities with some ICT skills, an interest in heritage and culture, and a desire to acquire new skills and gain work experience. The community journalists collect stories through personal interviews, in the form of audio recordings and video interviews.

(Source: ICT Update)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:45:44 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
According to the UN, around 10 per cent of the world’s population, or 650 million people, live with a disability. They are the world’s largest minority. Children and adults with disabilities face myriad challenges: abuse, lack of education, illiteracy, and unemployment to name a few.

Deepak Bhatia of the World Bank argues that ICTs provide a model to allow disabled people to better integrate socially and economically into their communities. For example, the Internet allows those with disabilities to organize and network. Perhaps most importantly, technology is slowly transforming the education sector by providing greater access to a variety of learning materials. Screen-reading software reads content aloud. Voice recognition software composes spoken messages. Mobile devices are much easier to operate than a traditional computer.

Ghana’s government is committed to teaching ICT skills to youth with disabilities. The Persons with Disability ICT Project aims to equip certain disabled people with ICT skills for the contemporary world.

Similarly, South Africa’s Department of Communications hopes to create an enabling environment for the disabled. Minister Dina Pule has challenged youth to be part of the solution. With proper stakeholder cooperation, the program is expected to reduce unemployment, and more importantly, ensure equal opportunities for all.

In Namibia and Tanzania, Sign Wiki allows the deaf and those who communicate with the deaf (ideally everyone) to learn sign language. Currently, there are 2,200 Tanzanian signs and 800 Namibian signs in the databases.


The aforementioned initiatives are fairly new, so it is too soon to tell if government-sponsored ICT programs achieve their initial goals. Stay tuned though because with some effort, ICT will not only empower the disabled but will also cause those who are healthy to understand how to help those who are less fortunate.

(Source: OAfrica News)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:38:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Meograph helps easily create, watch, and share interactive stories. Their first product combines maps, timeline, links, and multimedia to tell stories in context of where and when it happened.

The website is structured into a few simple prompts on an intuitive interface. Viewers get a new form of media that they can watch in two minutes or explore for an hour. Sharing is easy: the two most viral types of media are videos and infographics, Meograph is using both types.

Educators around the world are using this free website to create more interactive lesson materials, to “flip” their classroom—or to have students create their own projects.

Authoring what the site calls “four-dimensional stories” occurs via a few simple prompts on an intuitive interface, and users can share their creations online and via social media when they’re finished.Access to Meograph website here: http://www.meograph.com/educationexamples

(Source: eSchool News)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:30:52 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Promoting universal access to digital technologies for all children everywhere, while protecting them from the dangers present in cyberspace, is one of the key challenges of modern times.

As parents and educators, political leaders and responsible adults, we want children to navigate the oceans of information and knowledge, protected by appropriate legislation, by preventive monitoring tools, and by education based on sound values and personal responsibility.

The need to improve online safety for the world’s children is one area about which there is no doubt. Hence, the new phase of concrete activities, which ITU announced for the global Child Online Protection initiative in November 2010 in San José, Costa Rica, aims to identify the risks of cyberspace for the world’s children, improve awareness of them, facilitate exchanges of experience, and design effective protection tools.

In Costa Rica, a solid coalition has been created of governmental agencies, private companies and civil society bodies with experience of child protection. In that context, the National Online Security Commission has been set up to coordinate efforts pertaining to child protection and the Government’s Digital Agenda.

This has led, as part of the Digital Agenda, to the setting up of the National Online Security Programme, under the leadership of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The programme is geared towards prevention, emphasizing the development of institutional and social capacity, and safe empowerment of citizens. Many teachers, students and parents have been given training on online safety and responsible Internet use.

To complement these preventive measures, work is going ahead on a draft law amending the Penal Code with a view to protecting children from violence and abuse involving information and communication technologies.

Costa Rica has set a target of universal access to digital technologies for all students in the country, and the process will also involve efforts to promote their safety and protection online. In these areas, prompt action is needed.

(Source: ITU News Magazine)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:25:11 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
This report analyzes rural broadband and use by consumers, the community-at-large, and businesses; rural broadband availability; and broadband's social and economic effects on rural areas. It also summarizes results from an ERS-sponsored workshop on rural broadband use, and other ERS-commissioned studies. Overall, rural communities that had greater broadband Internet access had greater economic growth, which conforms to supplemental research on the benefits that rural businesses, consumers, and communities ascribe to broadband Internet use. One of the rural business sectors mentioned is the farm business.

Agriculture is another rural business sector that benefits from the Internet. For farm operators with Internet access in 2000, 98 percent used it to gather information. Price tracking (82 percent) was the next most common application.

In general, rural America has shared in the growth of the Internet economy. Online course offerings for students in primary, secondary, post-secondary, and continuing education programs have improved educational opportunities, especially in small, isolated rural areas. And interaction among students, parents, teachers, and school administrators has been enhanced via online forums, which is especially significant given the importance of ongoing parental involvement in children’s education.

Telemedicine and telehealth have been hailed as vital to health care provision in rural communities, whether simply improving the perception of locally provided health care quality or expanding the menu of medical services. More accessible health information, products, and services confer real economic benefits on rural communities: reducing transportation time and expenses, treating emergencies more effectively, reducing time missed at work, increasing local lab and pharmacy work, and generating savings for health facilities from outsourcing specialized medical procedures.

Full Report

(Source: e-agriculture)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 4:21:49 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Emergency 2.0 Wiki, a voluntary body, has developed an on-line Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Toolkit. This toolkit is tailored for the sensory and mobility-impaired.

The online toolkit provides tips, resources and apps to help people with a disability to overcome accessibility challenges of social media.

“The reason for developing the kit is that we’ve witnessed from recent disasters that social media can save lives, but people with disabilities often have difficulty accessing important messages because the social media platforms themselves are inaccessible”, said Richard Corby, Emergency 2.0 Wiki Accessibility Reference Group Leader.

It’s vitally important that people with disabilities, who are the most vulnerable in our communities during emergencies, are empowered to access instant, lifesaving messages through social media and the accessibility toolkit enables this, stressed Corby.

Mr. Corby also mentions that for example the main Twitter website can’t be easily read with a screen reader, a program that reads out information on a screen for people who are blind. In the kit they point users to alternative sites such as Easy Chirp to read tweets. As people tweet in real time, an accessible app such as this can provide immediate notification of when a fire starts or when flash floods hit a town.

Accessibility resources on the wiki include:

  • Tips and guides for people with disabilities on how to access social media

  • Emergency smartphone apps for people with a disability

  • Apps and assistive technologies to access social media

  • Emergency Preparedness YouTube videos that are either captioned or use sign language for the deaf and hearing impaired

  • Practical guidelines to assist the emergency sector, government, community, media and business to make social media messages more accessible

In a whole of community approach, the Accessibility Reference Group crowdsourced the content globally using social media. The group consists of professionals drawn from the emergency, government, NGO and business sectors in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

(Source: Emergency 2.0 Wiki)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 2:44:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Millions of smallholder farmers worldwide could improve their yields, incomes and resilience if only they had better access to appropriate information and knowledge that helps them make informed choices about farming practices.

Yet, despite new information and communication technologies (ICT), reaching out to these farmers with the right information at the right time is still a largely unmet challenge.

Using ICT to revitalize agricultural extension and education towards providing knowledge access to smallholder farmers was the subject of an international workshop held at the Infosys Campus in Hyderabad on 3-4 December.

The global consultation on Innovative ICT and Knowledge Sharing Platforms for Revitalizing Agricultural Extension and Education: Opportunities and Challenges organized by a global team led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), brought together about 60 ICT researches, extension and education experts from India, USA and Africa.

The two - day workshop was successful in laying the groundwork for the formation of a global partnership that will push the ‘knowledge to the poor’ revolution through ICT application in agricultural extension and education.

Partners from India, USA and Africa have agreed to develop tri-lateral educational programs to enhance the capacities of students, faculty members, extension agents, smallholder farmers, and various stakeholders in using ICT to promote the sharing and use of agricultural information among the poor and marginalized. To initiate this activity, a global AgED open courseware platform was launched during the workshop.

(Source: ICRISAT)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 2:38:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Disabled people or callers who are under threat and cannot speak will soon be able to call for emergency help with the new ‘SaveMe 999’ application, which will be launched by Malaysian’s Emergency Response Service (MERS 999) next week.

MERS 999 will officially introduce this latest update to its existing emergency response platform on December 18.

With SaveMe 999 app, users with disabilities will be able to send an accurate location or text a complete address of the location, choose relevant agency, select incident or text complete incident (threaten, kidnap, murder, robbery, rape or fight), then the information will be sent to the MERS 999 response centre and the officers would start the dispatching procedure to the relevant emergency agencies.

Emergency callers and location of incident can be tracked accurately with Automatic Number Identification (ANI), and Automatic Location Identification (ALI) on the smartphones.

The SaveMe 999 application will be available for download on Android and iOS enabled smartphones and devices.

MERS 999 is an initiative by the Malaysian Government for computerized emergency call taking and dispatching. Under its single platform and a single emergency number, the country’s five emergency service providers (the Police, Fire and Rescue Department, Ambulances/Hospitals, Civil Defense and Maritime Enforcement) share information and consolidate and integrate emergency response resources. The MERS 999’s response centres nationwide are operated by Telekom Malaysia.

Malaysia has up to 283,204 registered disabled people out of total population of 28 million.

(Source: FutureGov)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 2:35:20 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Hong Kong Education Bureau (EDB) launched an improved version of the Electronic Advance Application System for Post-Secondary Programmes, E-APP on December 3. E-APP was released in February this year to allow students to create and submit a single application for multiple post-secondary programmes.

Through E-APP, candidates appearing for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination or the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) can apply for post-secondary programmes before their examination results are released.

E-APP includes 31 locally-accredited post-secondary institutions that are not covered by the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS), the online portal for students who already have their HKDSE results to apply for admission to bachelor’s and associate degree, and higher diploma programmes in Hong Kong.

The institutions participating in E-APP can make conditional offers to applicants before the release of their HKDSE results. All institutions agreed to operate on the same timeline, enabling students to choose their programme with comprehensive information.

The new and improved version of E-APP allows post-secondary institutions to update the status of the applications through E-APP, allowing students to monitor their progress. The enhancements also bring secondary schools into the system by giving them the ability to view the status of their students’ applications, and thus, provide better career guidance.

Another improvement is the addition of a programme search function to allow students to search for programme information by area of study. Students can also submit requests for change of programme choices to institutions through E-APP. “With these new functions, students can plan their study pathways in accordance with their interests, abilities and career aspirations”, said an EDB spokesperson in a statement.

(Source: FutureGov)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 2:30:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ICRW conducted an assessment of the Intel Learn program, an education initiative that provides technology education to youth around the world, in order to understand its impact on female learners. ICRW found that Intel Learn has been able to reach large numbers of girls and women and enhance their technology skills, critical thinking, and self-confidence, improving their effectiveness as students, community members, and businesswomen.

The program equips learners with skills in digital literacy, collaboration, creativity, and critical problem solving. Intel Learn increases students’ access to technology and also teaches them how to use the technology through hands-on projects to address real-life problems. The program has been implemented in sixteen countries and has reached more than 1.75 million youth. It does not focus on any particular population of students, but rather has a goal of reaching all groups equally poor and rich, males and females, urban and rural, and ethnic minority and majority groups. Approximately half of Intel Learn’s program participants are female.

Growing evidence demonstrates that educating girls enhances the health, productivity, and development of communities and nations. ICRW’s assessment found that the strategies and components of the Intel Learn program have successfully targeted girls’ needs and interests, provided girls and women with necessary skills and resources, empowered them to have control over their resources and make decisions, and set them on a path for economic empowerment. Thus, the program offers important lessons on how to enrich the lives of girls and women through technology education.

Access to the report: The Intel Learn Program Through a Gender Lens

(Source: ICRW)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:58:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Singapore Silver Pages (SSP) launched recently a mobile app called “Mobile Eldercare Locator” (MEL), that allows users to learn more information about eldercare and search for health and social care services, based on the location and type of service required by the elderly.

SSP, is a specialised one-stop resource entity launched by the Agency for Integrated Care in February 2011. It aims to address the information needs of the ageing population in Singapore by providing a single source where the elderly, their family members and caregivers can access trusted and authoritative information on eldercare.

The MEL app enables users to learn more about the services offered by more than 1000 featured health service providers and locate them easily with its built-in directional maps and instructions.

In addition, the app also features a GPS-enabled journey planner that instructs users how to get to the location of the service provider either by private car, taxi, bus or MRT.

During Singapore’s first ever Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) Health Carnival, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong encouraged attendees to download the app to spread awareness and understanding on critical health conditions experienced by many Singaporeans.

“With more Singaporeans suffering from chronic diseases, there is a need to help people understand their own state of health better and support them in managing any conditions”, the Minister said in an official statement.

The MEL app is available on iOS and Android platforms for download free of charge.

(Source: FutureGov)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:41:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Two government secondary schools in Bangkok have piloted a Future Classroom Project to encourage the students to enhance the latest innovative technologies as learning tools and preparing for the government’s roll out of free tablet pc for the seventh graders in2013.

Taweethapisek School and Wat Rachathiwas School, in collaboration with the Office of the Basic Education Commission and Intel Corp, are working on a trial project for grade seven classrooms on adopting education IT solution as part of supporting the government’s One Tablet Per Child (OTPC) policy.

The Future Classroom model is an education IT solution tailored for one-to-one e-learning in classrooms starting on the first of December 2012.

Under this pilot project, ICT infrastructure including content distribution network, firewall, content catching and classroom management is supported by Intel together with its Learning Series 1-to-1 e-lLearning Professional Development Programme to train teachers using Intel Teach. This is to address the challenges of internet connectivity and content accessibility at the two schools.

E-Learning hardware such as 10 units of 10-inch screen tablets have been provide to Wat Rachathiwas School’s standard one class and a class of autistic students, and Taweethapisek School’s standard one class during the pilot period between December 2013 and January 2013. The evaluation of the outcome will be in February.

The tablets are equipped with classroom management software programme, which allows teachers to monitor on the devices used during the class.

Using the content distribution solution, a team of pedagogical experts select and create appropriate content. The content gets automatically pushed from a central server to the server appliance, which is located at each school. There the content is accessible to the students and teacher via the local area Wi-Fi network, which is fast and reliable regardless of the school Internetconnection.

The server appliance also provides firewall protection, caching, and other networking services that every school requires. With one-time configuration, the server appliance requires no further support to maintain its performance, and is even remotely accessible should a problem arise.

Students can access learning content from the Office of the Basic Education Commission and Intel’s provided content from Skoool, Wikipedia, and Khan Academy through the server appliance of the school.

(Source: FutureGov)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:38:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
A high-speed network that allows faster data transmission both among researchers in southern and eastern Africa and with scientists in Europe and other parts of the world has been launched.

The UbuntuNet network, unveiled in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last month, builds on links initially established between Europe and five African countries by the UbuntuNet Alliance, the regional research and education network for eastern and southern Africa.

The network provides a high-speed Internet connection between national research and education networks (NRENs) in the region and with the pan-European GÉANT network, giving access to 40 million users in 8,000 institutions.

It was developed under the AfricaConnect programme, which aims to provide researchers across Africa with access to faster data transmission facilities to encourage global research collaboration. The European Commission provides 80 per cent of the programme's funding, with the rest coming from African governments out of their support for the NRENs.

European funding for AfricaConnect is due to last until 2015, after which the project is intended to be solely funded by its African partners.

Francis Tusubira, chief executive officer of the UbuntuNet Alliance, said that the organisation's goal was to ensure that all countries in southern and eastern Africa had viable NRENs connected to the UbuntuNet network.

But he added that it was a major challenge to build the capacity to run the national networks effectively, partly because of the lack of graduates with relevant computer skills being produced by universities.

"We have thousands of engineering students coming out of universities, but put them in a working environment [involving computers] and they have no idea what to do", he said.

Therefore one priority for the UbuntuNet Alliance under the AfricaConnect project is to establish programmes to boost the teaching of computer engineering skills in African universities over the next four years.

(Source: SciDev)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:28:04 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The beauty of modern technology is that it has vastly speeded up communication and the transmission of information, helping businesses to become more efficient and productive. But this acceleration poses a real challenge for many small business owners who can get left behind if they aren't "up to speed". It's worse for those entrepreneurs living in rural areas in countries with limited access to the kind of information technology we take for granted, like a computer or a phone landline. But for the women entrepreneurs in these same areas those difficulties are multiplied by cultural traditions that often prevent them from being included in local business networks and markets.

This is the reality for women business owners living in rural Gujarat in India, where a group of them have come together and work for a large cooperative, 'RUDI' , to sell agricultural produce from local farmers. The women, known as 'Rudibens*' act as sales agents for the RUDI distribution network, selling food and goods in their own villages. Demand is often very high for the produce but it also fluctuates from season to season. And in order to fill their local orders for the produce, Rudibens have to travel long distances to bigger towns with RUDI centres, wasting time and money. By the time too that these orders are processed and delivered to the rural villages, the level of demand has often changed and they will have lost money they might otherwise have made. For the many women and families that rely on RUDI sales for their livelihood, the inefficiency of the system is a real problem.

Manjula, for example, started a business selling RUDI products after her husband died, leaving her with three children to support but no income. But because she has to travel to process the orders she receives and finds it a struggle to get childcare, she makes less money. And often the orders that she makes are not delivered until weeks later, by which time demand has changed leaving Manjula with produce she can't dispose of and less income.

To address these difficulties that stunt business growth for women like Manjula and other Rudibens, Cherie Blair Foundation has partnered with the Vodafone Foundation in India and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), which oversees the RUDI network, to develop a mobile application tailored to their needs. The women already have basic mobile phones but the special app will allow them to engage in real-time communication with the RUDI management, check supply levels and text orders instantaneously. As a result, the burden of time and travel costs for will be reduced and processing efficiency will dramatically increase. This translates directly to higher income and more time for the women to invest as they choose, such as developing their businesses and caring for their families.

(Source: Huffington Post)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 11:24:40 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
WTSA-12 affirms commitment to an inclusive Information Society

ITU’s membership has adopted a Resolution inviting ITU Member States to refrain from taking any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites and using resources, within the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution and the WSIS principles.

Meeting at the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA-12) in Dubai, ITU members revised and adopted a Resolution first agreed at 2008’s WTSA in Johannesburg: Resolution 69, Non-discriminatory access and use of Internet resources.

Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General, ITU: “Just days away from the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12), the adoption of this Resolution underlines ITU’s commitment to a free and inclusive information society. This should send a strong message to the international community about accusations that ITU’s membership wishes to restrict the freedom of speech. Clearly the opposite is true. It is in this spirit – fostering an Internet whose benefits are open to all – that I would like to head into WCIT-12”.

Noting the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms and that discrimination regarding access to the Internet could greatly affect developing countries; Resolution 69 invites affected ITU Member States to report to ITU, Director of the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB) on any unilateral and/or discriminatory actions that could impede another Member State from accessing public Internet sites and using resources, within the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution and the WSIS principles.

ITU’s work, along with many others, has played a key role in enabling the Internet. Without ITU standards providing the access technologies to homes and businesses and the transport mechanisms to carry information from one side of the world to another the broadband services that we have come to rely on would simply not work.

(Source: ITU Newsroom)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:45:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
UNICEF Philippines, in cooperation with Globe Telecommunications, embarked on an initiative which aims to leverage the use of Information and Communication Technologies to achieve better health outcomes among women and children in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas in the country’s provinces and municipalities.

The initiative is dubbed as rCHITS which stands for ‘Real-time Monitoring of Key Maternal and Child Health Indicators through the use of the Community Health Information Tracking System’. It is a computerization project aimed at achieving a more effective and efficient system of managing health information on children and women living in disadvantaged areas. Globe Telecom donated Php one million (USD 24,000) as support to UNICEF’s programme.

According to Tomoo Hozumi, Country Representative of UNICEF Philippines, the donated money will go towards expanding the rCHITS program to reach more provinces in the coming year.

“Through this program, we are able to gather and consolidate real-time data on mother and child health indicators and help the local government make informed and well-planned decisions on health issues in their provinces”, said Hozumi.

He added that the project was originally conceived as a tool in support of community based injury prevention, but evolved to what is known today as rCHITS through the collaborative efforts of the University of the Philippines National Telehealth Center, UNICEF and Globe.

The multi-stakeholder cooperation moved towards developing a system specifically designed to monitor and obtain key maternal and child health indicators in selected municipalities towards the achievement of Millennium Development Goals four and five, which is reduction of child mortality and improvement of maternal health.

(Source: FutureGov)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:08:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Applications are now open for Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI), an 11-year-old program that helps social entrepreneurs create greater impact in their poverty-alleviating missions.

This year, the program has been renamed GSBI Silicon Valley and revamped to focus on later-stage, investment-ready organizations with potential to reach significant scale. Up to 15 accepted enterprises will receive eight months of mentoring from Silicon Valley veterans, 10 days of intensive, on-campus education, and — for the first time this year — will be paired with at least one interested funding partner.

GSBI Silicon Valley 2013 is seeking applications from proven social enterprises — those that have been able to reach large numbers of beneficiaries. Those selected will utilize their eight months in GSBI to develop skills and martial resources to achieve operational excellence and attract financing that enables rapid, effective expansion of impact. Qualifying criteria for applicants can be found on the GSBI website.

GSBI Silicon Valley 2013 applications must be completed fully by Jan. 11, 2013. Ten to 15 successful applicants will be awarded scholarships valued at $25,000 each; the in-residence portion at Santa Clara University is scheduled for August 15 to 23, 2013.

The intensified focus reflects the GSBI’s goal of positively impacting one billion people living in poverty by 2020. The program’s new curriculum focuses on achieving significant scale, so alumni of GSBI are also encouraged to apply.

Further information


Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:05:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Information and communication technologies are fostering collaborative ways to protect and monitor biodiversity in the region.

One of such tools is the International Platform on Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF, for its acronym in English), a web-based system that allows free access to information on global biodiversity and involving nearly 60 countries, including Argentina, Chile , Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay. Brazil joined last October 30.

According to the World Bank, the region is leading the conservation with 20 percent of its territory protected, while the average for developing countries is 13 percent.

Ecosystems Specialists agree that progress in this area may depend on the successful use of ICT.

"A major challenge is to understand our biodiversity. And the use of ICT helps us to know how it is and, above all, to spread this knowledge among scientists, decision makers and the general public "then translate into strategies for protection and prevention, said Maria Isabel Cruz, National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO) in Mexico.

An example is the Early Warning of hot spots, from Conabio, which records and analyzes the surface temperature via satellite images. The system identifies anomalies, published on the web and sends the information to decision makers who evaluate the site and can prevent fires and impacts on ecosystems. The system is operating in Mexico, Central America, Brazil and Argentina.

(Source: SciDev)

Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:59:57 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The program provides a 3G-enabled tablet powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and free Internet connectivity from Maxis Berhad, the local 3G operator, with which is possible to access information and resources, connect with the dedicated mentor who provides invaluable advice on growing the business of women, and engage with a global community of like-minded business professionals.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report notes a strong correlation between gender equality and a country’s prosperity and economic competitiveness. This is where the Women in Business Mentoring Program comes in. The program is a collaboration between Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, the Foundation for Women’s Education and Vocational Training and Maxis Berhad with the goal of enhancing women’s skills and knowledge in business and information and communication technology, empowering them to obtain a better quality of life.

To date, 80 percent of participating entrepreneurs have reported a positive impact on their businesses and 90 percent have reported improved confidence and increased knowledge of technology.

Qualcomm’s passion has always been to expand the possibilities of mobile technology. By designing programs to accelerate women’s ownership of mobile phones and provide life-changing services for women in the developing world, Wireless Reach is working to help stimulate the economic ecosystem and close the mobile phone gender gap.

After Erin Radzi gave birth to her daughter, she had difficulty going back to work and decided to start a business from home. She thought she might supplement her family’s income by baking cakes and cookies, but she couldn’t afford a course on how to decorate wedding cakes. So she taught herself how to do it through online videos. Erin also sought additional training from the Foundation for Women’s Education and Vocational Training, and is now participating in the Women in Business Mentoring Program.

For more information on Wireless Reach, visit their website.

(Source: Qualcomm)


Thursday, January 17, 2013 9:55:50 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 23, 2012
SMART Technologies, a leading provider of interactive whiteboards for classroom learning, has recently released a new SMART Notebook app for the iPad. The software allows students to indulge in the SMART experience at school, home or on the go.

SMART reports that their software is already used by over six million teachers and forty million students worldwide. The new SMART Notebook app for the iPad will enable students to access most of the tools usually used on the SMART Board interactive whiteboard – from email and file sharing to word processing and image editing. Students with iPads can therefore work on their assignments with ease and then email their homework directly to their instructor.

“SMART Notebook continues to be the software of choice for teachers looking to add interactivity into their daily lessons”, says Linda Thomas, Vice President, Products, SMART Technologies. With material displayed on a colourful screen and sound, graphics and Internet access, a typical SMART lesson is designed to make teaching and learning easier.

For teachers, the new SMART Notebook app allows for easy lesson planning. SMART have said, “Student material can also be displayed on the SMART Board interactive whiteboard for whole-class learning by wirelessly streaming the iPad content using AirPlay with an Apple TV. By using the SMART Notebook app for iPad, pupils and teachers can stay on track and save time by being able to work with the same material on both interactive displays and iPad at school or at home”.

(Source: eLearning Africa)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:54:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary, Dinky Soliman, citizens can take part by indicating the location or name of the street, time when they found the homeless child together with other relevant details such as nearby landmarks and tagging it to DSWD’s designated Twitter account @savestreetkids.

Information submitted to the DSWD will then be relayed to the agency’s “reach-out team” for immediate action. In addition, the agency will also be updating the status of each reported incident by indicating the location of the “reception action centre” where the homeless child is temporarily sheltered.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development is seeking to engage the public, via the popular microblogging site called Twitter, to help save the lives of homeless children in the streets of Metro Manila.

(Source: FutureGov)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:52:41 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
With little access to formal extension services, a rural Zambian community set up an internet connection to develop local agriculture, education and energy facilities. The community is now using local radio to encourage other villages to do the same.

There have been very few studies into the effects access to broadband internet can have on agriculture in rural Africa. The reason for that is simple: broadband internet is still very rare in rural Africa. But in Zambia, a rural community, called Macha, does have broadband. There, internet and agriculture – and much more – combine as part of an integrated project to inspire the local community to reach its collective potential.

Traditionally, people have earned their living here through subsistence farming, mostly growing maize. Although agriculture always sustained the community, cultivation practices had not changed in many years. NGOs and internationals consultants came and went. And Macha remained a typical rural area with bad roads, scattered water pumps, limited electricity, patchy mobile phone coverage, dilapidated schools and health facilities.

In 2003, in a cooperative effort, community members came together to build a wireless network that would connect Macha to the internet via a satellite connection. They started with a VSAT link that offered download speeds of up to 128 kbps. The service soon became so popular that the bandwidth could not cope with the volume of internet traffic. The problem eased in 2011 when Macha upgraded the connection to a microwave link via a newly available cell phone network, which offers speeds of 2 Mbps, making it truly broadband.

The internet link is further distributed throughout the community via a wireless local area network (WLAN). There are more than 100 wireless access points, offering connectivity to both offices and homes. Surveys and measurements show that Macha has an active internet community of around 200 individuals, 67% of whom are on line for more than three hours a day. Half the users access the internet from home, and 71% use it frequently to surf the web for educational purposes.

As well as having a channel to communicate with friends and family outside of the community, access to the technology produced a discernible difference in agricultural practices within the first year. One community member found information on the web about sunflower farming, and decided to give it a go. A few years later, sunflower farming has blossomed in the village and it is now the community’s second most important cash crop.

(Source: ICT Update)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:49:09 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Library’s maternal health SMS service reaches over 90 women

Northern Regional Library’s Technology for Maternal Health Project has got off to a flying start: 94 pregnant women are now receiving vital health information sent directly to their mobile phones; the library’s health corner has been formally launched, and 10 health workers have been trained to use computers to conduct research.

Northern Regional Library in Tamale is working in partnership with the local development agency Savana Signatures to implement the maternal health service. Savana Signatures provides technical support for the SMS service, helped install the library Health Corner and provides information and communication technology (ICT) training for health workers.

The library’s new Health Corner has five computers where health workers and members of the public have free access to the internet. The library reports that health workers especially are using the computers to seek information for lectures and presentations they conduct at antenatal clinics in Tamale and rural areas.

Each computer has been installed with content provided by international agencies, including Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA); Medical Aid Films, and the Ghana health service. All content for the Heath Corner and the SMS service is carefully checked by a committee of local health workers to insure that it is accurate and locally relevant.

In addition to providing free access to computers, the library’s Health Corner is a training centre where Savana Signatures provides essential ICT training for health workers, to improve their research and communication skills. Ten health workers have received training, and another ten are to be trained in October.

The library Health Corner was officially commissioned by the Deputy Northern Regional Minister and the Northern Regional Health Director of the Ghana Health Service. It is attracting intense interest, and other health service providers, for example, the Tamale Teaching Hospital, are approaching the library with requests for information in different formats – film, audio and text – and for their maternal health education programmes.

(Source: EIFL – Ghana)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:46:48 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Two Secondary Schools to Benefit from 90 Girls' Scholarships, 50 Netbook Computers, and Internet Connectivity

Connect To Learn has been launched in Léona, Senegal with the announcement of 90 multi-year secondary school scholarships for 90 girls and the installation of 50 netbook computers supported by broadband connectivity for two secondary schools in the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) site in Léona. The launch at the Collège d’Enseignement Moyen was attended by MVP staff, students, teachers, parents, administrative authorities, education officials, and representatives of Ericsson and Tigo, two of the organizations supporting the effort.

Connect To Learn implements mobile broadband technology to connect classrooms to a 21st century education by enabling access to vital teaching and learning resources. The computers and connectivity contributed by the program’s technology partners will also allow teachers to improve their skills and knowledge and therefore the quality of secondary education in the schools where they work.

Through funds raised by Connect To Learn from individual and corporate donors, the program has also announced that they will offer multi-year scholarships this year for 90 young women to enroll in these schools. Girls eligible are MVP residents who have achieved academic excellence and whose families are unable to sustainably fund their education at the secondary level.

Connect To Learn is a partnership between the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Ericsson and Millennium Promise. As part of its contributions as chief technology partner for the initiative Ericsson has donated the 50 mobile broadband enabled computers and two video projectors. Tigo, the cell phone service provider that has joined the initiative in Senegal, is providing free Internet service that allows the netbooks to connect to the Internet through Tigo’s mobile phone network.

(Source: Connect To Learn)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:41:27 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Leveraging the power of ICT to help improve the quality of education for students through access to teaching and learning resources has become a useful tool within an increasingly networked society.

Technology improves educational opportunities by enabling personalized study. It also enhances the potential for learning through community-based education and access to educational resources, even in remote rural schools.

Connect To Learn was launched in 2010 as a collaborative effort between the Earth Institute providing advice on development, education, and evaluation; Ericsson as lead technology partner; and Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization.

Building on the expertise of each partner, Connect To Learn identifies strategies to integrate teacher professional development with 21st century ICT-based teaching, tools and practices in classrooms.

Connect To Learn also combines a cloud-based ICT solution developed by Ericsson for schools with the on-the-ground experience of partner NGOs. It aims to remove ICT support tasks from teachers and provides them with technology that is simpler to manage, so teachers can focus on improving the quality of education.

The solution is provided as a service, and is designed for users with little or no IT competence.

Improved access, energy efficiency and reduced costs are possible because users do not have to worry about virus protection, software updates and content-control capabilities for safe Internet browsing, application installation or maintenance. All tasks which are managed in the cloud.

Connect To Learn partners recognize the transformational role that broadband and other ICT solutions can play in scaling up access to quality education through innovative programs such as this one.

(Source: ICT4U)


Friday, November 23, 2012 11:35:38 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 16, 2012
This study investigates whether women have limited access to savings services delivered via the mobile phone. It examines women’s mobile phone and savings behaviour to understand whether the mobile phone creates a barrier to the savings services through lack of technical knowledge and mobile phone access.

Women members of Grameen Foundation’s savings project at Cashpor Microcredit, based in Varanasi, India are the focus of the study. 65 randomly selected Cashpor clients throughout the Varanasi region were interviewed. Women were asked to self-select into one of three categories of mobile phone ownership, telling us whether they own a phone, borrow a phone or have no access to a phone. The interviews focused on three main themes: How women use mobile phones; savings services; and how knowledge about the phone is shared among their community, particularly with children. The data collected highlight some gaps in service and further our understanding of how these women, men and their families use mobile technology.

In summary, this study found three important lessons.

  • Promoting mobile phone ownership among women is an important component to ensuring that they gain unobstructed access to savings services, or any service delivered through the phone

  • Providing mobile phone literacy training is essential among these women

  • The children of Cashpor clients know much more about mobile phones than their parents.

Download the Full Report

(Source: GSMA Women)

Friday, November 16, 2012 1:33:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

It can be downloaded from the Internet and enable them to identify the skills that students must develop.

The Peruvian Ministry of Education, as part of the national mobilization for the improvement of education and whose motto is "We all can learn, no one is left behind", has been made available to all teachers in the country, a set of teaching materials that will identify skills that students must develop.

These materials, called "Routes of Learning" can be downloaded from the following link: http://www2.minedu.gob.pe/umc/noticiacompleta_index.php?v_codigo=88, which contents bundles of Communication and Mathematics; Kits self-assessment, and guides.

Fascicles of communication and mathematics skills have to be achieved for children of 5 years old of initial and students of first and second grade. They also contain the respective performance indicators.

On other hand, the self Kits guide the teachers of the second grade to reflect on their teaching methods, assess how much students have learned, and analyze the results.

Finally, the mentioned guidelines propose a designing Guide for educational institutions, goals, strategies and commitments necessary to improve student learning in the areas of communication and mathematics, taking into account the results of the Census for Student 2011.

(Source: MINEDU)

Friday, November 16, 2012 1:30:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Women farmers experience a lack of access to resources globally—in the form of production inputs, labor, credit, training, and information. Their enormous contributions to food production, subsistence farming, and the agricultural labor force in the developing world means that ensuring gender mainstreaming in information and communication technology (ICT) is a priority for global food security. It is also central to a global development agenda based on human rights and effective and sustainable development outcomes.

This briefing paper addresses these and related approaches in ICT services for agriculture that support sustainable practices and promote gender equality.

Download the full paper here

(Source: USAID)


Friday, November 16, 2012 1:23:22 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Kenya's claim to being Africa's leader in information and communication technologies (ICT) got a boost last month, when IBM announced it would place its first African research lab in the country's capital Nairobi.

The announcement, on 13 August, is a feather in Kenya's cap. Like other African nations, it is looking to the private sector to pad out national spending on research and development (R&D) and boost innovation.

By getting the lab, Kenya joins countries like Australia, Brazil, China, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, which host the computer giant's other research units.

'IBM Research – Africa' will conduct basic and applied research in areas including the use of modern technology to improve government efficiency, root out corruption and manage city services, such as water utilities and traffic control.

The lab will serve Africa as a whole, and house IBM researchers alongside Kenyan and other African talent, selected and nurtured through a Resident Science Programme.

"The IBM research lab will not only rubber stamp Kenya as Africa's leader in ICT, but will help the country to transform into a knowledge-based economy", Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary in Kenya's ICT ministry, was quoted as saying in a press release.

But the decision means other African countries with ambitions in ICT leadership will need to do some soul-searching to work out how to achieve their technological aspirations.

(Source: SciDev)


Friday, November 16, 2012 1:20:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
In a bid to help expose Ghanaian female students to the world of technology and new opportunities, the government of Ghana has established an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) club for Tamale Girls Senior High School.

This novelty club is expected to be replicated across the length and breadth of the country, according to the Ghana's Ministry of Education.
Member of the Female ICT Teachers Association of the Ghana Education Service, Barikisu Seidu added that the "club is to stimulate the interest of the students in ICT learning and application to improve the number of females participating in ICT, which has become the source of opportunities".

Seidu said women were the bedrock of the society arguing that women would always be in a better position to impart the ICT knowledge onto their children as opposed to men.

"The ICT could enhance girls' chances of acquiring jobs as well as exploring other vital opportunities", Seidu said.

The director of Savana Signatures, Stephen Agbenyo urged the students to make good use of the opportunities offered by the club.

He noted that the new club would teach the female students about website development, blogging, internet researching, and other use of ICT tools for teaching and learning.

(Source: Biz Community)

Friday, November 16, 2012 1:18:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It will be focused on analyzing and raising awareness about the needs and mobile-based solutions for groups under risk of digital exclusion in Latin America (low-income and isolated communities, chronic patients and people with disabilities). Relevant stakeholders from all over the world will participate providing their expertise from technological, social and politic-economical perspectives.

The M-Inclusion awards for “Apps4Change” Challenge Program 2012, which recognizes groundbreaking mobile solutions for social inclusion, will take place during the conference.

Specific objectives:

    Bring together and facilitate the dialog amongst key actors in mobile technologies for social and digital inclusion in Latin America.

    Analyze the needs of the risk groups in terms of education, health, accessibility and economics needs.

    Identify and analyze the existing mobile technologies and initiatives that can cover the previously mentioned needs.

    Identify the trending mobile solutions relevant for mobile social inclusion.

    Promote awareness about the needs of shortening the gaps of social and digital inclusion in Latin America.

The outcome of this first Open Forum will shape the M-Inclusion Road map for social and digital inclusion in Latin America,  containing needs for social inclusion focused on the disadvantaged groups represented within the project, as well as mobile solutions based on new existing and trending technologies applied to main  scopes for social inclusion (economic, geographic, educational and health inclusion).

The audience of the event will be:

    Mobile Technologies: researchers, developers and technology providers

    End-users associations and communities: Disabled, elderly, low-income, isolated areas, social exclusion groups, chronics, etc

    Political stakeholders: Latin America and European with relevant links to regulatory issues and the market

    Financial and funding actors.

Further details about the location and the schedule in the agenda.

(Source: M-inclusion)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 4:46:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blue-Ribbon Group of Media Leaders Concludes a Year of Deliberations
With Release of Report and Review of Best Practices

The Healthy MEdia Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls, consisting of more than 50 leaders from the media industry, creative community, academia, and youth-serving nonprofits, completed more than a year of deliberations today by releasing a report offering a variety of recommendations and best practices to encourage more healthy and realistic portrayals of women and girls across all media.

The Commission Co-Chairs – Academy Award-winning actor Geena Davis, founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media; and former Federal Communications Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate, International Telecommunications Union Special Envoy and Laureate for Child Online Protection – announced the release of the group’s report during the Third Symposium on Gender in Media of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

Recognizing the need for gender balance and positive portrayals of women and girls in the media, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), along with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and The Creative Coalition hosted the Healthy Media for Youth Summit in the U.S. Capitol in October 2010. At that time, a broad cross-section of stakeholders gathered to chart a course to promote healthy media for the benefit of all young people and recommended that a Healthy Media Commission be formed to develop recommendations supporting a more positive and gender-neutral media environment for women, promoting the healthy development of a girl’s social, emotional and physical well-being.

The objective of the report, according to its Executive Summary, is “to develop recommendations supporting a more positive and gender-neutral media environment for women, promoting the healthy development of a girl’s social, emotional and physical well-being”. The report includes a section on “Healthy Elements of Media”, designed to encourage more healthy body images, active and diverse female characters, equal and healthy relationships, and roles for women and girls.

In addition, the report offers wide-ranging recommendations to a variety of key groups, helping media leaders, creators, and consumers “learn” more about healthy media, “choose” to promote healthy media images, and “educate” peers and colleagues about the healthy media issue and its ramifications for the health of girls and women. “Collectively we must lead efforts to raise awareness of, and facilitate greater education outreach around, healthy media, and work towards re-shaping our media landscape, so that it better promotes balanced and positive images of girls, and values their identities and aspirations”, the report says.

The Report and Recommendations of the Healthy MEdia Commission for Positive Images of Women and Girls is available online at www.GirlScouts.org/HealthyMedia.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 10:41:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, November 09, 2012

Our Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce is crucial to America’s innovative capacity and global competitiveness. Yet women are vastly underrepresented in STEM jobs and among STEM degree holders despite making up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and half of the college-educated workforce. That leaves an untapped opportunity to expand STEM employment in the United States, even as there is wide agreement that the nation must do more to improve its competitiveness.

• Although women fill close to half of all jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25 percent of STEM jobs. This has been the case throughout the past decade, even as college-educated women have increased their share of the overall workforce.

• Women with STEM jobs earned 33 percent more than comparable women in non-STEM jobs – considerably higher than the STEM premium for men. As a result, the gender wage gap is smaller in STEM jobs than in non-STEM jobs.

• Women hold a disproportionately low share of STEM undergraduate degrees, particularly in engineering.

• Women with a STEM degree are less likely than their male counterparts to work in a STEM occupation; they are more likely to work in education or healthcare.

There are many possible factors contributing to the discrepancy of women and men in STEM jobs, including: a lack of female role models, gender stereotyping, and less family-friendly flexibility in the STEM fields. Regardless of the causes, the findings of this report provide evidence of a need to encourage and support women in STEM.

Download full report here

(Source: Economic and Statistics Administration – USA)


Friday, November 09, 2012 12:41:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Since the introduction of mobile competition in October 2007, people in Papua New Guinea are able to own affordable mobile handsets and make cheaper calls for both business and personal use. In a country with rugged mountains and isolated islands, the mobile revolution has been embraced by ordinary Papua New Guineans. Over two million more people in PNG and the Pacific now have mobile phones compared to a decade ago.

“Before, whenever there was a death in the village, people had to travel long distances to the nearest government station or town to notify relatives in other provinces. But now we don’t have to because everyone has mobile phones and we can just call from the village”, said Mary, a housewife in Port Moresby who uses her mobile phone to get in touch with people in her village.

The World Bank has been helping to facilitate improved access to mobile phones and a stronger policy and regulatory framework for ICT all over the Pacific region. Working with other development partners, coupled with increased investment by the private sector, has reduced the cost of services and dramatically increased access.

In 2011, 26 percent of people in PNG had access to mobile phones. Before there was competition among telecom providers, only 4 percent of the population had access to either a fixed line or a mobile phone.

While these figures are still low compared to other countries in the region, it is a big difference with the time when there was only one operator. Back then, the handsets were too expensive and call rates were too high and just owning one was considered a luxury.

Competition among mobile operators has brought another dimension to the mobile revolution, such as mobile banking, sending money and purchasing utilities such as electricity using mobile phones, all of which are making life easier for everyday Papua New Guineans.

(Source: World Bank)

Friday, November 09, 2012 12:36:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |