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 Monday, 18 February 2013
The event, which is billed to hold in Lagos on April 25, 2013, is a brainchild of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and was borne out of the need to encourage young girls to delve into the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) profession as a means of contributing their quota to the development of the industry in their local environment and internationally.

This year’s event, with the theme: “Tech Needs Girls to Invent the Future”, has further received the support of the Minister for Communication Technology, Mrs, Omobola Johnson, who noted that her ministry is ready to work in partnership with eBusiness Life to achieve the aims of the event.

In a mail to the organizer, Mrs Johnson said, “congratulations once again and be assured that the Ministry will support this initiative”. The minister had earlier highlighted on the need to encourage young girls to aspire to co-exist with their male counterparts in the field of ICT, noting that the profession also needs the feminine gender in development.

“It is a known fact that girls are more brilliant at very young ages and evidence abound from nursery and primary schools globally to verify this claim. However, as girls reach the ages of menarche, the pressures and pains of becoming a woman slow us down a little. Early marriages and childcare also contribute to the reduction in young women’s academic achievement. Girls must therefore be exposed to ICT education very early in life. So that the culture, orientation and requisite ICT skills would have been acquired”.

She further enjoined that in order to close the digital divide between the female and male gender in terms of education in, ownership of and access to ICTs, girls must pick interest in ICT and related careers as this will not only prepare them for employment, but will also improve their capacity to compete for jobs with fabulous rewards or ability to start their own businesses and be employers from the word go.

As part of this year’s week-long event, activities will include a one-day seminar, facility tours, essay competition, open quiz sessions, mentorship forum, and awards to deserving female ICT professionals, who have made their marks in the industry.

International Girls’ Day is an initiative launched through ITU Resolution 70 with the idea of creating a global environment that will empower and encourage girls and young women to consider careers in the field of information and communication technologies.

The Union declared the fourth Thursday of April every year as a day of encouragement to girls and young women to consider careers in ICT and society is reminded to support them in their choice.
Pilot projects and campaigns have been launched in a number of countries for more than 20 years, with the aim to change girls’ and young women’s behaviour patterns with regard to their choice of career and to expand their spectrum of career options.

(Source: The Guardian Newspaper Nigeria)

Monday, 18 February 2013 16:55:20 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Program organizers launch 'Project 24', which gives districts a customized digital learning plan; a Massive Open Online Course for educators to learn about ed tech; and more.
With an overwhelming 25,000 educators participating in Digital Learning Day on Feb. 6, ed-tech supporters used technology-based projects, lessons, and enthusiasm to mark what they called a perfect time to launch a national digital learning campaign.

“Every day should be Digital Learning Day,” said Karen Cator, director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. “Access to technology has become as important to learning as access to a library, yet teachers remain the critical link between students and the content”. Cator said teachers are setting expectations for multiple “revision cycles” of student productions, made possible with “professional tools for writing, composing music, creating video documentaries, and design”.

“They are learning along with their students and modeling good questioning and internet research strategies, assigning more complex and challenging projects, and facilitating communication and collaboration even across borders”, she said.

“The president and I are convinced that with technology, we have an extraordinary opportunity to expand educational excellence and equity, and personalize the experience for students”, said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who attended Digital Learning Day in Washington, D.C.

Further details

Monday, 18 February 2013 16:45:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
On the occasion of Safer Internet Day, held yesterday (05 February ) in over 70 countries worldwide, the ICT Ministry launched six television commercials as part of the outreach strategy of responsible and safe use of the Internet in Colombia.

Lola, Abelardo and  Elmo from Sesame Street are some of the stars of the commercials that launched MinTIC through “En TIC Confío”(I trust in ICT) strategy, which seeks to counter the risks in the network.

These promotions were conducted in partnership with Sesame Workshop and Channel Tr3ce. They are designed to raise awareness of the benefits and opportunities of Internet safety, so children do not fall into bad habits and be attacked.

The commercials are presented under the brand 'Monsters in Red' and initially launched four conferences:

1. When you want to chat online
2. Put down the video games and go out and play
3. With Internet there is no distances
4. What precautions do you take to surf on the web?

Similarly, “En TIC confío” advances the following campaigns "Ciberpapaya and Cibercuidado", directed to a larger population, which seeks to exemplify overconfidence, exposure and overexposure that youth and adults have in Internet use.
"We are convinced that Internet is not bad, bad is the use that we can give them, so in MinTIC we constant work in developing content that alert and prevent the dangers and risks in the network", said the Deputy of ICT of Colombia.

(Source: MINTIC Colombia)

Monday, 18 February 2013 16:36:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Chinese scientists have developed and tested a prototype electronic notebook for blind people that is designed to be cheap to manufacture.

The e-notebook, called B-Notes, allows people to take notes or memos using Braille or by recording speech. It is similar in size to a mobile phone. B-Notes makes use of technologies developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), including translation software. Prototype e-notebooks were trialled on ten blind people last month (5 January).

Wang Xiangdong, technical leader of the ICT team that developed the device, says that Braille can be conveniently input using a panel on the e-notebook. "And when [B-Notes is] connected to a computer, the Braille-Chinese translation software can be used to convert Braille into Chinese characters automatically", he says.
Currently, there are almost 39 million blind people in the world, according to the WHO. And according to the China Disabled Persons' Federation, there are more than 12 million visually disabled people in China.

Wang said that the basic technological research for the e-notebooks has been completed and they are expected to be available in China later this year at a cost of 500 to 800 renminbi (around US$ 80 to US$ 130).

The e-notebook has three main features. First is the Braille input. The e-notebook's input panel has an array of mini keys that allows users to type.
Second is the intelligent translation system, which is up to 95 per cent accurate. When the e-notebook is connected to a computer, pre-installed software moves all Braille in the device over to the computer and translates it into Chinese characters.

Third, the e-notebook has a voice interface. There are voice prompts to guide users through the device's various operations.
Currently, the notebook can only translate Chinese Braille to Chinese characters. But Wang says that if other countries express an interest in the device, it will be possible to produce e-notebooks that translate other versions of Braille into other languages.

The blind people who tested the prototype notebooks told developers that they found them portable and easy to use. A spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, which is sponsoring the e-notebook's development, says the notebooks could support blind people in their everyday working and living.

(Source: SciDev Net)

Monday, 18 February 2013 16:24:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The 8th eLearning Africa conference (eLearning Africa 2013) will this year be hosted by Namibia's Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Ministry of information communication technology (ICT) from May 29-31.

The conference will be held in Windhoek, Namibia. In 2011, it was hosted by Tanzania. This year's international event will focus on tradition, change and innovation to show how new technologies combined with a pioneering spirit to improve lives are already changing the way people learn, work, and play.

Tanzania Global Learning Agency (Ta- GLA) is one of the organizers of the conference and as it did in previous years, it will link Tanzanians to important sessions of the conference through technologies. The following are some of the key questions to guide discussions at eLearning Africa 2013: How are African youth shaping their identities and navigating different learning spaces with these technologies? Are new technologies fundamentally disruptive to tradition or do they open up space for the digitization of tradition?

How is innovation in Africa shaping the continent's learning landscape? Over 1,500 decision-makers and practitioners from the education, business and government sectors, with 80 per cent coming from Africa are expected to attend the international conference. A similar event was last year held in Cotonou, Benin, from May 23-25. It provided an opportunity for Tanzanians and other participants to explore and get exposure to best available educational technologies and practices in the world and a platform to profile the country worldwide.

A total of 300 speakers and chairpersons from 50 countries addressed all forms of technology-enhanced learning, including a rich mix of themes, topics and a variety of sessions. Tanzania Global Learning Agency (TaGLA) provided an opportunity in last year's event as it will do this year, to connect Tanzanians through video conferences to selected sessions, inspire Tanzanians to access available conference materials online and engage them through the social media like facebook, twitter and Ta- GLA's website during and after the conference.

The eLearning Africa 2012 Report's key findings show that the number one factor constraining the African e-learning sector is lack of bandwidth, the top consideration for African organizations is access to appropriate content, the most important change agent is the government and the top motivation for using information communication technology (ICT) is to improve the quality of teaching. It was also found that 48 per cent of Africans use mobile phones in education, 36 per cent use shared resource computing in education and 74 per cent use ICT for classroom teaching and learning.

Further details

Monday, 18 February 2013 15:55:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Global Impact Study of Public Access to Information & Communication Technologies is a five-year project (2007-2012) to generate evidence about the scale, character, and impacts of public access to information and communication technologies. Looking at libraries, telecenters, and cybercafes, the study investigates impact in a number of areas, including communication and leisure, culture and language, education, employment and income, governance, and health.

Within Ghana, the study covered areas in the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Western regions, which were considered as the most commercial regions in the country and therefore could provide credible information on Public Access Venues.

Recently, the Ghanaian Science and Technology Policy Research Institute (STEPRI) held a dissemination workshop for the aforementioned global impact study and how it relates to current government initiatives.

TASCHA will be releasing their final overall research report at the end of February. In the meantime, follow the dialogue on Twitter: @taschagroup | @ictimpact.

Further details

Monday, 18 February 2013 15:49:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 08 February 2013
The 10th annual Safer Internet Day -which took place on 5 February 2013 – focused this year’s theme on Online Rights and Responsibilities.

In recognition of Safer Internet Day 2013, ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun I. Touré spoke of the fundamental role that ICTs have facilitated in driving social and economic progress, as well as opening new frontiers and opportunities for young people to cultivate their inherent creativity, innovation and dynamism in a digital environment.
The Secretary-General also talked passionately about the dramatic changes associated with the proliferation of ICTs, which also potentially brings with it new threats and risks to the safety and security of children – who are the most vulnerable members of society.

Moreover, the President of Costa Rica, H.E. Laura Chinchilla and Child Online Protection (COP) Patron, during her video message, highlighted Costa Rica’s efforts in implementing COP, through the appointment of a National Commission on Cybersecurity.

Under her commitment, Costa Rica has been working hard – jointly with ITU – to create and develop a national model to promote online protection involving not only government, but private sector partners, NGOs, schools, parents and abroad cross section of stakeholders – across Costa Rica.
In addition, Miss Deborah Taylor Tate – ITU COP Special Envoy – also highlighted how COP is empowering children on how to navigate safely and with respect from one and other to achieve their own dreams.

COP aims at building an international security framework for children and young people in relation to online protection and creates an excellent platform, where working together, relevant stakeholders can ensure a harmonized and comprehensive approach and best practices related to online protection of young people.

Finally in September 2013, ITU – under the patronage of H.E. Laura Chinchilla – will be organizing the Global Youth Summit, which will be hosted in Costa Rica.

The Global Youth Summit will provide a global platform to bring youth together to join forces and create solutions for social good, enabled through widespread access to ICTs. This will be a unique occasion for youth to advocate their online rights and demonstrate how ICTs are empowering them to fulfill their own dreams and careers.
Watch the video messages here

(Source: ITU)

Friday, 08 February 2013 22:54:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Uttar Pradesh (UP) state government in India will purchase 1.5 million laptops from HP India and distribute them to twelfth grade students statewide.
The council of ministers on January 23, finalized the purchase of laptops for education valued INR 28.58 billion (US$ 536.32 million), at a unit cost of INR 19.05 (US$ 357.6) inclusive of taxes and duty cost. This deal was given to HP who had proposed the lowest bid.

The state cabinet meeting was attended by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, and the decision came after the recommendations made by the evaluation and technical committee of UP Electronics Corporation were reviewed.

The state government gave an authorization to the UP Electronics Corporation, a civic body, to issue a letter of intent (LOI) to HP India for the purchase.
HP was mandated to supply five per cent of the total order within sixty days after signing the agreement, with an increased quantity to be supplied every subsequent month. It will have to complete the supply of total 1.5 million laptops in seven months after the date of the agreement, said The UP Electronics Corporation, MD, Prabhat Mittal who managed the bidding process.

Mittal added that the laptops would be delivered at the sub-district level in each district by the company, and the distribution of the laptops is expected to start in a month time.

The ruling party also promised to give free tablets for education to grade ten students. The bidding process for supplying the tablets to the UP government is still underway, and is expected to be finalized by end of February.

The UP state is located on the North of India, and is also the most populous state in India, with a population of 199,581,477 people as of 1 March 2011.

Further details

Friday, 08 February 2013 22:50:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
As part of the ITU's Girls in ICT project & Tech Needs Girls campaign, Women in Technology in Nigeria, WITIN brings Technovation Challenge to Nigeria. The Mobile App Challenge was opened on Monday for secondary school girls (ages 13-18) who would work in teams of 5s to develop mobile apps, conduct market research, write business plans, and create a “pitch” for funding. Each team works with both a classroom teacher at their school and a female mentor/role model from the technology industry. WITIN will lead mentors in Nigeria who would guide teachers to train teams from now till April on how to build the apps. The training culminates in a global competition where teams compete for funding to launch their company and take their app to market.

The goal of the program is to promote women in technology by inspiring girls to see themselves not just as users of technology, but as inventors, designers, builders, and entrepreneurs in the technology industry.

The girls are taught life skills such as how to identify a problem, design and test a solution, collaborate with a team, and communicate to different audiences. It reinforces the following academic concepts: digital representation of information, algorithmic thinking and programming, and the societal impact of information and information technology.
Over this period girls will be trained 2 hours a week to develop a potential solution to a problem and program a mobile phone application to solve it. The app must solve a problem in their local community. This could be a health problem that affects their community, a social problem, or even a lack of a resource. They will learn how to study their competition, identify ways in which they can gather users and earn revenue. Each team will be guided by a teacher from their school and a female mentor from the high tech industry to support and act as a role model for her team.

The winning team will be celebrated in Nigeria on April 25th(Girls in ICT Day) and will travel to the Silicon Valley California to compete globally on May 1st, 2013. The overall winner will receive $ 10,000 in funding and support to complete their app development and release it on the market.

In the end, Girls learn about collaboration and teamwork, important skills in the technology industry.

To sign up- all you need is a team of 5 girls, a computer, an android phone, and a teacher or adult to support the team.
On February 2nd, Mrs Martha Omoekpen Alade, Chairperson of Women in Technology in Nigeria formally welcomed all teams in Lagos on the “hackday” to brainstorm on starting off.

(Source: WTIN)

Friday, 08 February 2013 22:45:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Agricultural researchers are getting to the point where the advantages of using paper are no longer outweighed by the disadvantages of using advanced technology in a rural setting. The logistics of printing and distributing questionnaires, for example, can be time and resource intensive. Once the questionnaire is out in the field it becomes very difficult to make any changes or corrections to it, making it a rather rigid research tool, especially when managing unexpected outcomes.

Smartphones and tablets are now used frequently in agricultural and rural research. However, in rural development settings simple and appropriate solutions are still recommended, according to Sander Muilerman, who works for the Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in West Africa. IITA did a baseline survey on occupational health and safety in 2012 among 420 adult cocoa farmers in Ghana without using paper. A parallel impact study using the same digital questionnaire targeted another 225 trained cocoa farmers.

No paper forms were used, only basic phones (and one GPS-enabled phone) equipped with a third-party Java application by three enumerators and a supervisor, with training on occupational safety and health. All phones were equipped with a special data SIM card, normally used in USB sticks for mobile broadband. This kind of SIM card only allows outgoing data connections, thereby effectively preventing misuse of credit by enumerators for calls or SMS messages.

Mobile phones can also be used because of other features and sensors available on smartphones: photos, GPS, multiple languages, audio, video, password, surface area measurement, compass reading, barcode, QR code, automated calculations, signature, slope, altitude and digital sketch. But it is not only technology that counts, according to Muilerman. ´Researchers need to think more about how to engage with farmers. Technology allows for more interactive and mixed method research – including with pictures, audio and video´. This is important for understanding agriculture as a complex system which, besides economic and ecological factors, also includes the social context of rural farming communities. Therefore, ICT projects in agriculture cannot be unidirectional or they may effectively devalue the traditional knowledge held by the farmers.

Using the same notion, scientists from the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland, the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology started a project in a village near the town of Bagamoyo in Tanzania. Their aim was to establish an open and participative research process in which local farmers use smartphones and a web platform to document their environment and the effects of climate change, and thus create a collaborative knowledge base that is useful for farmers, extension workers and researchers.

The project is called Sauti ya wakulima, “The voice of the farmers” in Swahili. Five men and five women from the community take turns to share the two available smartphones, by exchanging them on a weekly basis. Whenever a farmer's turn to use the phone comes up, he or she has the task of using it to contribute content to the knowledge base. Farmers use messages, pictures and voice recordings to document their environment.

(Further information)

Friday, 08 February 2013 22:38:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The inclusion of ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) can help to eliminate the borders in access to health, while improving the access to global knowledge for the benefit of professionals and users of health services.

For example, the incorporation of these technologies can help the health sector to exchange information about patients and treatments more quickly and safely, including pharmacological knowledge, methodologies healthcare or medical procedures.Through the inclusion of ICTs, it is also possible to improve access to health services through remote care systems, thereby enhancing universal access to health even in isolated areas.

Furthermore, these technologies enable greater access to knowledge by citizens and professionals, facilitating the exchange and dissemination of information through technology platforms. Therefore, the incorporation of ICT in the health sector is an effective way to combat the problems of this key sector for economic and social development of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Check out the infographic to learn more about the advantages of using ICT in the health sector:

(Source: BID)

Friday, 08 February 2013 22:24:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 31 January 2013
A telecentre can be defined as a public space where users have access to various ICT tools, enabling them to obtain information to broaden their knowledge or communicate, while facilitating a better knowledge of digital tools and infrastructure. While every telecentre may have its own specific features, the common goal is to use ICT to foster social, economic and cultural development by facilitating social networking – thus reducing the digital divide.

The reference model is the Multipurpose Community Telecentre (MCT), which has been supported by UNESCO since 1996 in various parts of the world.
Since the late 1990s, the African continent has witnessed the regular, more or less organized development of numerous projects enabling public access to ICT, be they public and/or private, free or paid. This can be seen as a direct consequence of the weak infrastructure of telecom networks, of the lack of competition between the operators, and of the access costs to their services and to computer equipment. It must be remembered that in this field, the continent is still the most expensive in the world. However, this tendency is perhaps about to be reversed due to the rate of mobile penetration, major technological infrastructure projects and increasing competition between operators and equipment manufacturers.

Many telecentres are situated in urban and suburban areas, but they are becoming increasingly prevalent in rural areas. Access in such areas varies from country to country. In general, it remains dependent on gender issues or on the degree of poverty among rural communities, both of which often limit the frequentation of telecentres. In Mali for instance, as yet too few women make use of telecentres; others criticize their establishment in regions with a largely illiterate population. From an economic standpoint, they struggle to find an appropriate method of management to generate income, compete with large companies and adapt to technological developments.
Despite often struggling with viability and sustainability, MCTs are, nevertheless, the real hub of transformation of African culture and economy. This is especially the case in rural areas, where they serve as vital centres of ecosystems and loci of social and economic innovation, creating a productive dynamic of wealth and knowledge between rural and urban communities. In Africa, more than anywhere else, access to ICT gives rise to homegrown solutions, which transform companies and fuel entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth.

Thus, MCTs can support rural companies in a number of ways. Farmers, for instance, share the ICT tools at their disposal to gain access to urban markets and business intelligence in order to expand their activities or to acquire new professional skills. Their customers can also order online.

(Source: Elearning Africa)

Thursday, 31 January 2013 17:41:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Millions of students benefit from free online courses that offer dozens of institutions.

All shows that 2013 will be the year of the MOOC, or massive open online courses, for its acronym in English. A new way of teaching and learning in higher education content is spreading from the campus of the best universities anywhere in the world.

The phenomenon of MOOC born in the United States in the hands of a few visionaries, such as the artificial intelligence theorist and ex  professor of Stanford, Sebastian Thrun. Although early experiences have several decades, it was not until 2012 that the phenomenon has become massive. During the last 12 months born major technology platforms to which universities have engaged their courses.

"It has emerged everything, since to being top chefs, learn to be more artistic, master in new sports, new tools, new programming languages, other languages and to become better teachers", wrote in their blog the Udacity responsible at the same time of their purposes for the new year. Created by Thrun and two colleagues, also they make clear its objectives in their mission statement: "Our mission is to provide higher education to the world in an accessible, attractive and effective way. We believe that higher education is a basic human right and we intend to empower our students to develop their skills so they can advance their careers". In just one year since its founding, Udacity has enrolled more than 150,000 persons.

At glance Udacity's web gives an idea of what you can learn in a MOOC. There are introductory courses in computer science or physics, artificial intelligence learning intermediate or advanced courses in programming and applied cryptography and robotics.

But more important is the content and philosophy of the MOOC. Like previous learning platforms are online. No matter where you find one, just a decent connection to sign up. But now are massive, in theory you can register as many people as you want. The MOOC are also open, which brings with it its free. It is a fundamental point of the philosophy in which it is based on: democratize and globalize higher education.

Although the phenomenon of individual initiatives came out from great teachers (Thrun and others), universities also have joined to this initiative. The MIT and Harvard University created edX, a massive online courses platform, to which have joined other senior centers as Berkeley College in Georgetown or Wesleley, last December. With the addition of the last two centers, edX also goes a step further in the contents. But if it is to have universities, the broadest platform is Coursera. Also born in 2012 now has more than two million students, making it the largest university in the world.

In the background of the coming revolution there is a change in the educational paradigm.

(Source: El Comercio NewsPaper)

Thursday, 31 January 2013 17:28:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Speaking at the event, Deputy Minister of Communications, Stella Tembisa Ndabeni-Abrahams said she hoped that this initiative will enhance learner education and help make their lives and their community better.

“In our efforts to provide broadband connectivity to unconnected schools, the department has partnered with Vodacom because we believe that well-resourced and equipped learners will perform better and will improve the matric pass rate. Such partnerships are critical if we are to offer quality education to our learners and to schools, particularly those that have previously not been exposed to such learning opportunities.

“We are delighted to be handing over the computers as it is part of our schools connectivity initiative. We are committed to connecting schools nationwide through both public and private partnerships”, said Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Vodacom’s Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs, Maya Makanjee, said the centre was not only expected to improve learner pass rates, but also ensure that learners have had some exposure to ICTs by the time they reach tertiary level.

School Principal Nombuyiselo Boya said she was humbled by the donation.

“Our school had no computers. We are humbled to be recipients of the mobile computer centre specifically for our learners. This will expose our learners to the internet and will also help improve the quality of education we offer our learners”, she said.

(Source: UNPAN)

Thursday, 31 January 2013 16:34:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Thailand’s Ministry of ICT has set a goal to expand 300,000 additional free Wi-Fi hotspots nationwide in the second quarter of 2013.

ICT Minister Group Captain Anudith Nakornthap said that the expansion of Free Wi-Fi is part of the move to push forward Smart Thailand project to provide the public an access to the internet, as well as a preparation of the country’s ICT network to welcome the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.

The Minister spoke during an academic seminar among Thai and Japanese-related agencies on “Wireless Broadband Experience”.

Meanwhile, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications commission (NBTC), Thailand has earlier approved a budget of TH฿ 950 million (USD 31.9 million) to promote the MICT’s free public Wi-Fi project.

The NBTC Secretary-General Thakorn Tanthasit said that the Free Wi-Fi service would be made available at some 30,000 locations across the country including state universities, city halls, district offices, state hospitals, and major tourist destinations.

The installation of 150,000 access points will be set up with five access points per location at the speed of 2Mbps per second. One access point can accommodate up to 15 users at 20 minutes per access, and not more than two hours/ person / day, according to him.

Further details

Thursday, 31 January 2013 16:25:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
We are pleased to participate in Social Media Week 2013, scheduled February 17-22 in Washington to showcase our use of digital space for development. USAID will host several events during the week to contribute to the conversation and highlight how we rely on technology for a multitude of reasons, including program management and reporting, and general educational purposes for a range of projects, funded by USAID.

As our development partners, we’d like to invite you to showcase your work in using social media for development through video at our #Popcorn + International Development event on February 21. This is a special opportunity for you to amplify a program you are proud of, or one which you feel deserves a louder voice in the public.

How to Submit:

Please submit, no later than February 13 at 23:59 EST one two-minute or less YouTube link (per organization) to Your video should highlight a USAID-funded project or projects that use social media to further our collective development goals. Videos, of course, should be kid-friendly.
Be sure to include your organization’s name and your organization’s point of contact.

The top videos will be previewed at “#Popcorn + International Development”, followed by a short Q&A. We hope you will join us!
Non-selected videos may be compiled to a video stream and made available to the public through USAID’s YouTube channel, to encourage ongoing dialogue about social media and its role in international development.

Further information

Thursday, 31 January 2013 16:10:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Lesson personalization, interactivity can improve student engagement and social skills.

Ed-tech advocates are discovering the numerous benefits that mobile devices, including iPads, can have for students. But a growing number of special-education teachers are finding that iPads can have a positive effect on their students with autism in particular.

Students with autism often have trouble communicating and might struggle with transitions, such as changing classes, getting on a school bus, or taking a field trip. A report issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last April indicated that one out of every 88 children is believed to have autism or fall somewhere on the autism spectrum.
Karina Barley, an Australian special-education teacher who runs Project Autism Australia, uses iPads with her students on the autism spectrum. Handheld devices such as the iPad offer students with autism the chance to personalize their learning while moving at their own pace, and the larger screen (when compared to a smart phone) makes it easy for them to manipulate various apps.

“They have fantastic implications”, Barley said. “One of the greatest things about them is that you can use iPads across lots of curriculum areas. I saw significant improvements in my kids within the first term”.

Barley uses iPads to teach math and English/language arts (ELA), and for customized learning programs based on each student’s individual needs. While some of her students with autism traditionally struggle with concentration, Barley said introducing the iPads caused a marked change.

(Source: eSchool News)

Thursday, 31 January 2013 16:00:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 24 January 2013
An Indian designer is developing a smartphone with tactile text that can be used by blind or visually impaired people. Sumit Dagar's prototype Braille smartphone is expected to be ready by the end of February and the first model could be on the market within a year.

Dagar, who won US$ 50,000 in Rolex Award for Enterprise in November 2012 to develop the smartphone, says that design can help technology bridge the gap between people with disabilities and the rest of the population.

Dagar's partners in the five-year smartphone project, which started in 2009, are the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi and eye health centre the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), India.  He is working with a four-member team comprising experts from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, New York University in the United States, India's National Institute of Design and the LVPEI. He says that several other research institutions have expressed interest in collaborating on the project.
"The basic handset I am working on now has words and numbers going up and down in Braille. So a user can touch them and recognize or locate numbers and names", said Dagar. The screen is covered in pins that can rise up from its surface to form Braille words and numbers.

To make phones more affordable for visually impaired people, he says that efficient design may make them cheaper, although the primary goal is to design them to work well. There have been previous attempts to create a Braille smartphone, but no prototype has ever been made, says Dagar.

He adds that most experiments using touch-based - technology have been confined to creating vibrations, so this project is a step forward.
A more sophisticated version of the phone could even make images tactile, he says. But he expects such a phone to emerge only towards the end of the five-year project.
Ravi Bagree, a member of the Braille phone team from the Delft University of Technology, says that Dagar's mix of engineering and design background played a part in this innovative work.
"[A Braille phone] has not been possible so far because not many people think of the disabled and those who do so don't have the [necessary] technological background", says Bagree.

See here the video presentation

(Source: SciDev)

Thursday, 24 January 2013 20:11:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The 8th eLearning Africa conference will be held from May 29th to 31st at the Safari Conference Centre, Windhoek, Namibia. The key networking event for developing eLearning capacities in Africa, eLearning Africa 2013 will be hosted by Namibia's Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Ministry of ICT.
eLearning Africa 2013 will focus on tradition, change and innovation, and the call for proposals is now open.

New technologies combined with a pioneering spirit to improve lives are already changing the way we learn, work, and play. How are African youth shaping their identities and navigating different learning spaces with these technologies? Are new technologies fundamentally disruptive to tradition or do they open up space for the digitization of tradition? How is innovation in Africa shaping the Continent's learning landscape?

These are some of the key questions that will guide our conversations at eLearning Africa 2013; let us know what you think! We encourage all practitioners, experts and academics engaged in an African context to submit a proposal and be a part of Africa's largest annual conference on ICT for development, education and training. For more information on this year's themes, deadline and how to submit a proposal, please click here.

eLearning Africa at a glance
•    The key networking event for ICT-enhanced education and training in Africa
•    A must for those who want to develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships, as well as enhance their knowledge, expertise and abilities
•    The hub for first-hand information and real-life examples of how ICT advances the cause of education for all in Africa
•    Over 1,500 decision makers and practitioners from the education, business and government sectors, with 80% coming from Africa
•    Accompanied by an extensive exhibition and demonstration area.

(Source: eLearning Africa)

Thursday, 24 January 2013 20:02:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
'Welcome to the project', so reads the foreword particularly literary lesson taught by Professor Sergio Tejero to 2nd grade students at ESO (Ekialdea institute). Chapter One: desks, whiteboard and laptop ready and connected to condense into 140 characters the passage 'which looks at the condition of the famous knight Don Quixote de La Mancha', as published Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in 1605. Not surprisingly, the word 'post' in its infinitive tense, it becomes 'Trending Topic' in this computerized classroom.

The technology of this teaching academic method, which has attracted literary passion among his pupils, seeks to promote the reading and the language of Cervantes. "Each student is assigned a chapter to be summarized in a 'tweet', of not more than 140 characters text. Once finished, I correct it and then publish it live @ElQuijoTweet", explains Tejero.

More than 1,200 fans support this initiative. Julen, Irati, Jon, Jokin and other students have appreciated the story of Alonso Quijano.
"At first it seemed difficult, especially for the number of pages in the book -862 -. But now I find it amusing", Irune Valluerca perceived. The heavy old Castilian vocabulary has not been an impediment to their peers Joseba and Iñigo, boasting outstanding language. If you read Don Quixote at home, it could be not so much interesting. But one chapter to another is more entertaining", realize both students, reading lovers in its aspects of "adventure novel".

For their teacher Sergio, who has an experience of 12 years as a radio journalist, the motivation "is key" in teaching. Given the catastrophic connotations raised by the explosive mix of teens and social networks, Tejero commitment to seek "real value" of these tools. And the strict limitation governing on the Twitter text (no more than 140 characters), which is ideal for "summarize teaching" is not a trivial matter in academic development.

"Students who do not how to summarize, do not know how to study" he says. They are unable to absorb a lesson because they fail to understand: "They have difficulty making schemes". But thanks to the social network of the blue bird- dreaded from parent associations and schools directors", the students learn to search keywords and composing sentences". In short: make a good synopsis. "That helps them improve not only in language but in all subjects: science, history, etc".

As "the second most printed book in the world after the Bible", Don Quixote is the "universal classic" that every Castilian speaker should be conceived as "masterpiece" of Spanish literature. "Force them to read is not the solution. My goal is that they understand it, that they know the story, who was Cervantes, why the book is divided into two parts, everything that surrounds the Quixote de Avellaneda, etcetera". Undoubtedly, the method has permeated.

(Source: El Correo Newspaper)

Thursday, 24 January 2013 19:51:59 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is launching a new initiative that seeks to raise public awareness of the high school dropout crisis in Latin America and generate solutions to keep more young people in school. By presenting the latest dropout research and data in engaging platforms such as social media, film, and interactive online forums, GRADUATE XXI aims to involve Latin Americans from all walks of life in efforts to improve education systems and increase the number of high school graduates across the region.

In recent years, access to education has improved significantly in Latin America. Primary education is virtually universal throughout the region. However, nearly half of the students in Latin America do not finish secondary school. Gaps in access to education persist among socioeconomic and ethnic groups, as well as between urban and rural communities. Indigenous youth, the poor, students with disabilities and youth who live in rural areas are disproportionately represented in dropout rates throughout Latin America.

The IDB is working in partnership with Latin American governments to close these gaps in access, as well as to improve the quality of secondary education. According to household surveys from Latin America, most students between the ages of 13 and 15 who are not in school list “lack of interest”—above economic, access or family problems—as their primary reason for dropping out. GRADUATE XXI seeks to further research, analysis, and public discussion on the underlying causes of high school dropout.

In addition to videos, blogs, educational materials, and the most recent dropout data, GRADUATE XXI will host a series of ten online contests. Each contest will culminate in the announcement of a winning idea and the screening of a short film on the contest topic. The first online contest, launched on December 10, centers on barriers faced by students with disabilities and solicits ideas to make education more inclusive and accessible.

Argentine director Pablo Fendrik and Colombian director Carlos Gaviria will lend their story-telling talents to GRADUATE XXI in the upcoming contests. Fendrik’s short film will discuss barriers to accessing education in rural areas of Latin America. The impact of conflict on graduation rates will be the subject of Gaviria’s short film. The other participating Latin American directors will gradually be revealed over the course of the contest series.

Chenillo, who filmed a short documentary about deaf students in Mexico City for GRADUATE XXI, said, “I am proud to be associated with this project because educating the next generation is the single most important investment that Mexico, or any country, can make in its future. There is no future for a region in which half the population does not have a high school education. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all of our youth have equal access to quality education. The need for action is urgent and I think GRADUATE XXI will inspire more Latin Americans to get involved”.

Further details

Thursday, 24 January 2013 19:44:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
"JUMP is a program that complements the innovative use of telecommunications through "Cell Phone Tips" which involves to send 105,000 text messages with advice and tips on business management to microentrepreneurs. The contribution of Telefónica will provide technical facilities for sending these messages to further enhance of beneficiaries entrepreneurship.

"We are pleased to invest in the education of women because it has a multiplier effect, which results in more productive, healthier families, better educated, and ultimately prosperous communities. For Telefonica, be part of this innovative project, which promotes the development, improve competitiveness and strengthens social inclusion, makes us proud", said Eduardo Devoto, Corporate Relations Manager of Telefonica.

This initiative, which provides training sessions on finance, marketing and sales, as well as personal skills, with a simple and dynamic, is also supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) , ACP, Thunderbird University (USA) and the Australian Government through AusAID.

"JUMP is a program that seeks to promote the development of women entrepreneurs through micro, small and medium enterprises. The program focuses on strengthening the business capacity of 100,000 entrepreneurs through a series of interventions. The IDB-MIF is focusing much on women as it has been seen that women entrepreneurs have a more rapid and sustainable impact on their family, and their community. By the way, they spend and invest, when a woman entrepreneur grows, it begins to promote the welfare of children and families by providing better education and health. This eventually results in development. Moreover, empirically, we have observed that a woman has a very important trained multiplier - woman enjoys teaching and sharing - and so, what you teach a woman tends to reach its surroundings", noted Fidel Jaramillo, IDB representative in Peru.

Furthermore, the training of the project has three additional elements: personal support financial analysis and identification of business opportunities granted by MBA students at the University Thunderbird, funding for project participants by Mibanco, and advice to women entrepreneurs through the cell.

Further details

Thursday, 24 January 2013 19:36:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 18 January 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, 18 January 2013 14:17:10 (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, 18 January 2013 14:10:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 17 January 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, 17 January 2013 21:28:13 (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, 17 January 2013 21:18:49 (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, 17 January 2013 21:10:34 (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

(Source: Intel)

Further details

Thursday, 17 January 2013 21:01:53 (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, 17 January 2013 20:56:09 (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, 17 January 2013 20:49:26 (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, 17 January 2013 20:44:01 (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: 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, 17 January 2013 20:34:48 (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, 17 January 2013 20:25:53 (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, 17 January 2013 17:11:22 (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, 17 January 2013 17:05:43 (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, 17 January 2013 16:58:46 (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, 17 January 2013 16:54:34 (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, 17 January 2013 16:50:36 (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, 17 January 2013 16:45:44 (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, 17 January 2013 16:38:43 (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:

(Source: eSchool News)

Thursday, 17 January 2013 16:30:52 (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, 17 January 2013 16:25:11 (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, 17 January 2013 16:21:49 (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, 17 January 2013 14:44:17 (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, 17 January 2013 14:38:21 (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, 17 January 2013 14:35:20 (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, 17 January 2013 14:30:40 (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, 17 January 2013 11:58:12 (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, 17 January 2013 11:41:41 (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, 17 January 2013 11:38:06 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |