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 Thursday, July 31, 2014
Discover the 10 award-winning best practices from the Actions for Digital Culture contest, organized by the Digital Italy Agency, to promote digital literacy and inclusion.

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

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

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

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

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

More details

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

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

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

Only eligible applicants will be contacted.

Further details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: IT News Africa)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: e-Learning Porirua)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: Official Web of New Zealand Government)

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: UNESCO)

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


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

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

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

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

(Source: Biztech Africa)

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


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

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

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

(Source: IICD)

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

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

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

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

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

Further details

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

(Further details)

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


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

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

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

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

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

(Source: UNESCO)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: SciDev Net)

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) Award Categories – 7 Categories

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

5) Timeline

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

More details

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: ITU Newsroom)

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

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

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

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

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

Project website:ICT-AGE

(Source: Careplus)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: FutureGov)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Further details

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


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

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

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

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

(Source: National News Bureau & Public Relations)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further details

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: Business Week Newspaper)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further details

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


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

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

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

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

Further details

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


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

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

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

(Source: Savannah-fund)

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: UNESCO)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: British Council

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


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

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

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

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

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

(Source: UNESCO)

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: UNESCO)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Further details

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:28:33 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Over 130 international delegates gathered in Singapore on 16 June 2014 to discuss innovative solutions for an ageing society in the new era of ICT-enabled growth and to create opportunities for people with disabilities to capitalise on the digital wave.

Jointly organised by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA), Singapore e-Government Leadership Centre (eGL) and Institute of System Science (ISS) at the National University of Singapore (NUS), the workshop delved into ways to make ICT more accessible to the aged and people with special needs in order to enable them to participate in the digital economy.

Supported by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Waseda University and International Academy of CIOs (IAC), the event included government officials, academia, NGOs, VWOs and industry players from 24 economies.

"Governments today face higher expectations from citizens who use their best online transaction experiences from around the world, including that with the private sector as a yardstick for the quality of government digital services. Hence, it is no longer sufficient for Government to just provide and upkeep services online, but to innovate, and keep on innovating to raise the bar of public service and to enhance the service experience of citizens when they interact with the government", said Mr Amos Tan, Director, Strategy and Innovation Division (SID), IDA.

Consensus drawn at the workshop included the need for international cooperation and broad-based steps to be developed now, in particular the acceleration of innovation, design of secure and resilient environments, building strategic ICT capabilities, aligning policies with user-driven needs, promoting scalable solutions, harnessing data analytics for citizen participation, recognising the need for increased cross-cutting research and raising social awareness about ageing and disabilities.

"Learning from international best practices and the implementation of comprehensive strategies is a good start to address the needs of the elderly and people with disability in Singapore. We will continue to promote research and innovation of services in sectors such as healthcare, finance, training, transportation, community development, housing and e-government so as to provide an environment for the ageing and disabled folks with capabilities, opportunities, responsibilities and resources to maintain active participation and social inclusion. In addition, we advocate the use of design thinking to achieve good design to enable products, services or ICT for the elderly and people with disability", said Mr Lim Swee Cheang, Director of ISS.

The workshop concluded that to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to mitigate the social and economic impacts of people with special needs, economies must embrace the culture of innovation and enhance collaboration among governments, businesses and citizens. This includes social and organisational innovation, as well as the unlocking of information technologies through increased research and innovative new models.

(Source: IDA)

Thursday, June 19, 2014 8:12:17 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, June 14, 2014


Announced at the World Economic Forum recently, Intel is partnering with the Rockefeller Foundation to further the She Will Connect initiative which aims to promote women in Africa and eventually other emerging markets’ tech scene.

A recent Women and the Web report suggested that, in developing countries, there are 25% fewer women than men online. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the gap rises to 43%. In light of this discovery, Intel launched the She Will Connect programme last year September which will aim to give women greater opportunities in this space.

The initiative strives to halve the digital gender gap in Africa, by empowering five million women through digital literacy programs, with initial pilots in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.

According to general manager of the Intel World Ahead Program, John Davies, “Technology in general and the internet in particular, has transformed the lives of billions of people. It opens up opportunities and possibilities that never could have been realized before. But women and girls are being left behind – which is why we are investing alongside other organizations to close the gap through Intel She Will Connect”.

As reported by CIO, this recent partnership will further help people from the She Will Connect programme with employment opportunities. Rockefeller Foundation Africa’s managing director, Mamadou Biteye, further explains the philanthropic foundation’s role.

The partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation will seek to connect those trained through the program to employment opportunities. Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional Office elaborated on the Foundation’s role:

“We will work together with Intel to connect high potential but disadvantaged young women in our target African countries to online jobs through tools and training that will provide them with best practice guides to assist them in successfully accessing online jobs, earn an income and build their skills and digital work experience”.

Launched in 2013, Digital Jobs Africa is an initiative by Rockefeller Foundation that seeks to connect disadvantaged youth to jobs in the digital economy. “We will seek out more partnerships with pioneering private sector players who have a shared vision around addressing the youth employment challenge”, concludes Biteye.

(Source: Ventureburn)

Saturday, June 14, 2014 1:45:24 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The Habaka Madagascar Innovation Hub hosted on Friday May 16 the Antananarivo StartUp Cup, offering cash and free incubation to winning startups.

The event, part of the global StartUp Cup initiative and supported by Orange Madagascar, offers three winners the chance to share US$3,100 as well as free incubation at the hub.
 
The overall winner will also go on to represent Madagascar at the next World StartUp Cup.

Andriankoto Ratozamanana, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at Habaka, said the seven finalists were picked by a local judge based on lean startup criteria.

“The ideas we received are impressive indeed”, Ratozamanana said. “The tech startup scene in Madagascar is in its early age, that’s why we opted for the StartUp Cup model”.

The event was streamed live online in French and viewers can vote for their chosen startup online.

HumanIPO reported last year Habaka, which was founded in 2011 and registered as a non-profit in April 2013, launched the HARIASA National Technology Innovation Contest, looking to stimulate the creation of a startup ecosystem within the country.

Ratozamanana said innovation had the potential to be economically beneficial to Madagascar.

“Innovation will boost the growth of Madagascar’s economy because it will create local industry”, he said. “Naturally it can solve many local issues and our people will be proud to buy good quality local products or works in good condition in a local company that is very innovative and competitive”.

(Further details)

Saturday, June 14, 2014 1:38:06 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Rural communities in Lesotho deserve to be connected just like anywhere else in the world, according to Nthabiseng Pule, executive secretary at the Universal Service Fund (USF) of Lesotho.

Pule was discussing rural infrastructure at the 2014 SatCom and World Rural Telecoms Congress Africa event in Johannesburg, South Africa on 21th May.

“Some of the towers with the highest traffic are in the rural areas”, she said, while highlighting the challenges of making sure the mountainous country was covered by voice and data services.

“They [people in rural areas] make use of communication technology a lot because they want to sell their sheep and cattle and also track their mohair payments”, she said.

Pule said the government is trying to find alternatives to smartphones for internet provision.

“A smartphone’s power doesn’t last long, so we are looking for alternatives”, she said.

HumanIPO reported last month low-cost smartphones are key to internet penetration in Africa.

“Growth is going to come from mobile phones and particularly low-end smartphones that are starting to flood the market”, said Dave Duarte, South African entrepreneur and social media expert.

(Source: HumanIPO)

Saturday, June 14, 2014 1:31:00 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


A centre to train the youth in Information Communications Technology (ICT) has been officially opened in Koforidua, the Eastern regional capital.

The innovation centre which is a Government of Ghana-world Bank collaboration provides users with Internet, area for the assembling of hardware, software programmes, audio visual equipments to allow users interact with the world, a seminar room, among others.

The facility, which will be replicated in the remaining nine regional capitals, is also aimed at creating job opportunities for the youth.

Communications Minister, Dr.Edward Omane Boamah, who officially opened the centre said "all these innovation centres across the regional capitals will be linked up through the power of the internet and to the BPO centre at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle''.

The minister noted that the establishment of the innovation centre will enable business process outsourcing activities take place in all the regional capitals.

''The centre will help business outsourcing which hitherto happened only in Accra extended to the other regions'', he said.

In addition to the innovation centres, Dr.Omane Boamah stated that government is establishing twenty-one Community Information Centres (CIC) to add up to the eighteen it established last year.

"The CICs are a bit different from the regional innovation centres. It is a strategy to help diffuse ICT's to every nook and cranny of the country to engage our youth in a much more healthy way than what we have seen in the past and also give them decent Jobs through [provision of] appropriate skills in ICT'', he explained.

(More Information)

Saturday, June 14, 2014 1:27:26 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


In 2008, UNDP’s ICT Trust Fund —established with the Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology—joined forces with the World Health Organization, Vodafone Foundation and the Siwa Community Development and Environment Conservation Association to launch an initiative aimed at both eradicating female illiteracy and helping women to find new or better employment.

In addition to teaching 8,800 women how to read and write, the initiative is providing women skills and materials needed to take control of their lives. For example, the programme put a special emphasis on computer skills, so in addition to providing training in business development and problem solving, it equipped the participants with their own personal computers.

As a result, women enrolled in the programme learned to read and write, improved their agricultural and handicraft production abilities and acquired online marketing skills. Siwa women now promote their products through an online store.

Aware of prevailing social norms in the oasis, programme instructors brought the classes into women’s homes. They transformed the traditional tableya—a low, round, dining table around which rural Egyptians sit cross-legged and eat—into a so-called tabluter. A tabluter is a customized, ergonomic computer embedded in the tableya; the computer hosts a single central processing unit that can run up to four independent computers. The newly tailored tableya is foldable, making it easy to carry around from home to home.

In 2012 alone, the initiative trained 120 women on the device, in addition to 10 more who were taught how to be literacy instructors, ensuring the ongoing life of the project. Fatma Ibrahim was among the first group of women to complete their literacy programme on a tabluter.

The project team is currently training non-governmental organizations (NGOs) around the Siwa governorate to use the tabluter to teach reading and writing. UNDP is also creating a business model for these NGOs so they can offer free literacy classes. UNDP and its partners are preparing to bring the entire initiative to five more oases in Egypt.

(Source: UNDP)

Saturday, June 14, 2014 1:23:11 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Nearly 20 years ago, the world came together in Beijing for the Fourth World Conference on Women. There, 189 governments adopted a visionary roadmap for gender equality: the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Some 17,000 participants and 30,000 activists pictured a world where women and girls had equal rights, freedom and opportunity in every sphere of life.

While much progress has been made in the past two decades, no country can claim to have achieved equality between men and women. It is time for the world to come together again for women and girls and complete this journey.

UN Women is launching a year-long campaign to re-energize the vision laid out at the Beijing Women’s Conference. Our goal is straightforward: renewed commitment, strengthened action and increased resources to realize gender equality, women’s empowerment and human rights. We call it: Empowering Women, Empowering Humanity: Picture It!

The Beijing Declaration laid out actions to address 12 critical areas of concern for women and girls across the globe. Governments, the private sector and other partners were urged to reduce women and girls’ poverty, ensure their right to access education and training, safeguard their health – including their sexual and reproductive health, protect women and girls from violence and discrimination, to ensure that technological advances benefit all, and to promote their full and equal participation in society, politics, and the economy.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action remains the most comprehensive global agreement on women’s empowerment and gender equality. If only it had been implemented!
Notwithstanding, today we can celebrate progress. More girls are going to school. More women are working, getting elected, and assuming leadership positions. But in all regions of the world, and in all countries, women continue to face discrimination because they are female.

We see it every day. In pay inequity and unequal opportunities at work… in stubbornly low representation of women leaders in the public and private sectors… in the continuing scourge of child marriage, and in the pandemic of violence experienced by one in three women globally – a number greater than the population of Europe.

Perhaps even more startling is the fact that if the Beijing negotiations occurred today, they would likely result in a weaker agreement. We all have a responsibility to keep pushing ahead for full implementation, because every time a woman or girl is held back by discrimination or violence, humanity loses.

Since the Beijing Conference, irrefutable evidence has accumulated showing that empowering women empowers humanity.

Further details

Saturday, June 14, 2014 1:18:19 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, June 06, 2014
The Digital Enterprise programme provides free group training and face-to-face support for small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profit organisations to help improve the way you do business and deliver services online.

The Australian Government is providing $16.8 million in grant funding to establish and support the Digital Enterprise programme in 69 communities across Australia.

The Digital Enterprise programme is helping small-to-medium enterprises to improve their productivity utilising new technologies, learn how to reach wider markets through an online presence, use videoconferencing more regularly and find ways to increase business efficiencies.

The programme is assisting not-for-profit organisations to build relationships with customers, clients and donors through social media and more efficient delivery of products and services using the internet.

A list of Digital Enterprise service providers is available to help you find your closest Digital Enterprise training programme.

Within the Digital Enterprise programme there is access to online training through the Virtual Advisor programme that is primarily assisting Indigenous Australians, small-to-medium Indigenous owned and operated enterprises, and not-for-profit organisations located in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia. Visit the Virtual Advisor programme page for more information.

(Source: Department of Communication – Australian Government)

Friday, June 06, 2014 9:38:47 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Nathan Han, 15, of Boston was awarded first place for developing a machine learning software tool to study mutations of a gene linked to breast cancer at this year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public.
Using data from publicly available databases, Han examined detailed characteristics of multiple mutations of the BRCA1 tumor suppressor gene in order to "teach" his software to differentiate between mutations that cause disease and those that do not. His tool exhibits an 81 percent accuracy rate and could be used to more accurately identify cancer threats from BRCA1 gene mutations. Han received the Gordon E. Moore Award of US$75,000, named in honor of the Intel co-founder and fellow scientist.

Lennart Kleinwort, 15, of Germany received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards of US$50,000. Kleinwort developed a new mathematical tool for smartphones and tablets that brings capabilities to hand-held devices that previously required more sophisticated and expensive computing tools. His app allows users to hand draw curves, lines and geometric figures on the touch screen and watch the system render them into shapes and equations that can then be manipulated at will.

Shannon Xinjing Lee, 17, of Singapore received the other Intel Foundation Young Scientist Award of US$50,000 for developing a novel electrocatalyst that may be used for batteries of the future. Researchers have been looking for ways to make rechargeable zinc-air batteries practical, as they would be safer, lighter in weight, and have six times the energy density of lithium ion batteries, making them ideal for hybrid vehicles. Lee found that her activated carbon catalyst, which she made entirely from carbonized Chinese eggplant, greatly out-performed a more sophisticated commercial catalyst in stability and longevity tests and will be environmentally friendly and inexpensive to produce.

"The world needs more scientists, makers and entrepreneurs to create jobs, drive economic growth and solve pressing global challenges," said Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation. "Intel believes that young people are the key to innovation, and we hope that these winners inspire more students to get involved in science, technology, engineering and math, the foundation for creativity".

This year's Intel International Science and Engineering Fair featured more than 1,700 young scientists selected from 435 affiliate fairs in more than 70 countries, regions and territories. In addition to the top winners, more than 500 finalists received awards and prizes for their innovative research, including 17 "Best of Category" winners, who each received a US$5,000 prize. The Intel Foundation also awarded a US$1,000 grant to each winner's school and to the affiliated fair they represent. Additionally, the Intel Foundation presented a select number of students with experiential awards, including the new 11-day trip to China to attend the country's largest national science competition, speak with researchers at Intel's lab in Shanghai, and visit the Panda Research Base in Chengdu.

A full listing of finalists is available in the event program. The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2014 is funded jointly by Intel and the Intel Foundation with additional awards and support from dozens of other corporate, academic, governmental and science-focused organizations. This year, more than US$5 million was awarded.

To learn more about Society for Science & the Public, visit www.societyforscience.org, and follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter.

To get the latest Intel education news, visit www.intel.com/newsroom/education, and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Further Information

Friday, June 06, 2014 9:23:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Touchscreens may have kicked-off a mobile computing revolution, but they didn't do much for the visually impaired. OwnFone, which launched a customizable mobile phone for kids and the elderly back in 2012, is now offering its stripped-down handset with braille or raised text contact buttons. The 3D-printed hardware lets you select up to four contacts that can be assigned to the device, making it ideal for emergencies and people who need to stay in touch with family or carers on a regular basis. It's available right now for a base price of £60, plus an additional monthly charge of between £7.50 and £15.00 per month -- depending on how much call time you want or need.

(Source: Engadget)

Friday, June 06, 2014 5:58:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 16, 2014
The first-ever Accreditation@IDA targeting innovative tech product start-ups launched

IDA Labs, located at IDA's headquarters at Mapletree Business City and the National Design Centre (NDC) were officially opened on April 24. The labs will serve as a place to experiment, collaborate and build innovative products and solutions that address real world challenges. A third lab to be housed in one of the National Library Board's libraries is also being planned.

A new Accreditation@IDA programme was also launched at the opening event. It aims to help innovative technology start-ups build their credentials so that they can be positioned as qualified vendors capable of handling projects by government agencies and large enterprises.

Companies that apply for accreditation will need to undergo technical assessments to ascertain their product's core capabilities and claims. IT service providers HP and Cognizant will provide the software testing tools, along with accreditation best-practices and methodologies, at an accreditation lab set up within IDA Labs@HQ.

The accreditation programme will be open for application in July 2014. Companies' financial performance and operational capabilities will also be taken into account in the process. Successful companies would be awarded an accredited status for 18 months.

To enhance market opportunities for accredited technology start-ups, IDA will be engaging potential buyers in the public and private sectors to support these companies. For example, IDA will facilitate Proof-of-Concepts and product demonstrations to potential buyers and stakeholders. In addition, the Government procurement process is being reviewed to facilitate Government's procurement from accredited companies and enable Accreditation@IDA to be considered in place of financial grading for start-ups.

"At IDA, we are constantly looking at different ways to help grow Singapore-based tech companies that have the vision to build tech products that address big challenges. IDA Labs and the Accreditation@IDA programme are two examples of how we want to help in practical ways to support the building of some great tech-product companies", said Steve Leonard, Executive Deputy Chairman, IDA.

As the support of industry partners is instrumental in growing tech talent and building tech companies and products, IDA Labs is partnering Red Hat to provide IDA Labs users with advice from Red Hat experts and the open source community. IDA Labs and Red Hat will also organise an international challenge to discover innovative technology projects that not only meet functional requirements, but also user-friendly and design-centric.

IDA Labs is also working with Intel to provide its latest technologies, R&D resources and technical expertise to IDA Labs users. Intel will also help local ICT companies bring their products to overseas markets via its global platforms.

IDA Labs' partnership efforts also extend to the Singapore Management University (SMU) Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The SMU community can use IDA Labs to test their ideas and eventually translate them into actual products and solutions. IDA Labs and SMU will facilitate the commercialisation of innovations, either through co-development or by adopting solutions to be used in government projects.

With the support of the Ministry of Education, IDA Labs will also be holding the Learn@Labs Day from 27 to 29 May. Students from different schools will have the opportunity to learn about and tinker with various technologies such as Arduino, Robotics and 3D Printing.

More than 150 guests attended the official opening and had the opportunity to view showcases and experiment with technologies brought together by IDA and IDA Labs' partners. Some of the showcases include the accreditation testing tools, Internet of Things (IoT) platforms and innovative tech hardware developed by students.

(Source: IDA)

Friday, May 16, 2014 9:35:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Infocomm Investments Pte Ltd (IIPL) builds and invests in Singapore and global infocomm technology start-ups. Managing more than S$200 million, we accelerate the development of start-ups in their formative phase, and invest further as they move towards growth and expansion. IIPL plays a central role in building a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem in Singapore for start-ups to flourish through our investments, partnerships across sectors and global reach.

We are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore.

What we do

Accelerator

In order to further stimulate the growth of home-grown, innovation driven tech start-ups, Infocomm Investments is working with corporations, universities and professional accelerators to cultivate promising tech start-ups at the seed and early stages. We bring promising tech start-ups to the accelerator programmes that are tailored to suit start-ups at different stages of maturity and/or industry verticals. We aim to build 500 Singapore-based high growth tech start-ups through such acceleration programmes over the next 5 years.

Potential partners and entrepreneurs who are keen to explore our accelerator programmes are welcome to contact us at info@infocomminvestments.com

Investment
Infocomm Investments invest alongside leading VCs to take companies to their next stage of growth. We target Singapore companies that are building a strong international presence or overseas companies expanding to new markets in Asia (from a base in Singapore.) Our investments cover various segments including Consumer Web, Mobile applications and Infrastructure, SaaS and Cloud Infrastructure, Games and Enterprise IT.
Equity-financing aside, we seek to add value to our portfolio companies through our wide network. We’ve helped companies recruit talent, connect with potential customers or partners, and bring advisors on board through strong relationships we’ve built over the past decade.

JTC LaunchPad @One-North
We are a significant participant in this initiative. Building on the success of Block 71, JTC LaunchPad @One-North is an initiative to further develop the area as Singapore’s start-up cluster. The space will provide start-ups with affordable and quality spaces which will help to seed their growth, catalyst networking and collaboration opportunities as well as build an even stronger start-up community in Singapore.

Community & Outreach
Singapore has become a strategic hub for many tech entrepreneurs to locate their business operations. At Infocomm Investments, we are committed to be an active member of the tech community, contributing in various ways to help build a strong pipeline of tech start-ups that have the potential to scale globally.

Sponsorship Support
At Infocomm Investments, we advocate and support appropriate events and activities that can benefit the innovation-driven, tech start-up ecosystem in Singapore. We would like these activities to have positive impact, in a quantifiable sustained manner, in one or more ways:

  • Building and growing start-ups into disruptive, significant businesses
  • Establishing and leveraging on relationships with the investor, accelerator, customer (or user), and media communities to propel start-ups
  • Identifying and channelling tech talent to the tech start-up ecoystem
  • Benefitting start-ups, entrepreneurs, technologists, incubators, accelerators, start-up mentors, investors, tech companies, user organisations, relevant agencies, entrepreneurship educators and students
This is a constructive way for us to work with partners across private and public sectors, in Singapore and globally, helping us to play a central role in building a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem in Singapore for tech start-ups to flourish.

You can contact our Marketing and Outreach Team at info@infocominvestments.com

  (Source: Infocomm Investment)

Friday, May 16, 2014 9:27:41 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Grey Group Singapore (“Grey”) announced that the agency has developed two innovative mobile applications (“apps”) aimed at improving the quality of life of people with hearing disabilities. Developed with inputs and full support from the Singapore Association for the Deaf (SADeaf), the proprietary apps transform smart phones into intelligent devices that help the lives of people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing easier and safer.

Say it With Signs
Although smart phones are fast becoming ubiquitous devices in the hearing world, people with hearing disabilities has limited use of them as a communications tool, relying more on text messages and over the top (OTT) applications that deliver visual content.

This poses a challenge when there is difficulty for a caller to key in a text message, such as when the caller is driving or if the caller is a pre-school child. Say it With Signs helps address this challenge by processing audio messages during a phone call into digital hand signs displayed on the receiver’s mobile phone. The receiver of the call, who is a deaf person, can easily view this sign language on their mobile phones and reply to the caller via a text message.

Hearing Aide
Hearing Aide provides people with hearing disabilities with support during emergencies by processing ambient sounds and transmitting visual and kinetic notifications to the user. Upon recognizing a specific audio signature, the app will process this and notify the users of the impending danger via a 20 second vibration and a visual message displayed on the mobile phone screens.

This app is pre-loaded with 5 standard “alarms” or “alert sounds” such as, ambulance, fire brigade, police sirens, fire alarm and smoke detector. Users have the ability to customise the app according to their needs by adding sounds between 90 – 120dB into the databank of alert sounds and renaming labels of the notifications to warning messages they prefer or are familiar with.

SADeaf President, Dr Christopher Low Wong Kein shares, “These applications are breakthroughs for the Deaf community. At SADeaf, we are always on the lookout for innovations that can better the lives of our clients. Say it With Signs and Hearing Aide are certainly two applications that will fast become integral to our clients in their everyday lives. I have no doubt that our clients will be looking forward to have the apps installed on their phones. It was indeed a pleasure working with the highly creative and attentive team at Grey Singapore. We are glad that they have thought of the needs of people with hearing disabilities”.

(Source: GAATES)

Friday, May 16, 2014 9:18:32 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


ECWT and E-SCN are pleased to announce a strategic partnership based on their mutual focus of equality and opportunities for youth within the ICT sector. This is specifically in line with the promotion of STEM and in particular CS education to girls, as well as increasing female representation in the ICT workplace.

E-SCN’s project and advocacy activities range from Digital Inclusion initiatives all the way up to workforce development projects, with an overall interest in reducing skills gaps, and youth unemployment. The Danish based network organization also has a strong focus on the recognition and use of the e-Competence Framework, which is a reference framework of competences applied within the ICT sector, that can be used by the individual ICT user, private sector, public sector, academia etc.

In recognition of the launch of this strategic partnership, E-SCN and their existing partners Carnegie Mellon University spin-off company, PROXCER, and Telecentre-Europe are making a donation to provide girls across Europe the opportunity to gain credentials and proof of skills within different areas of ICT.

PROXCER, based in Dublin, Ireland, is the only company in the world to deliver Authentic Examinations. Authentic Examinations are the heart of PROXCER’s method for evaluating the capability of an individual to write software accurately, by measuring the test-takers ability to program realistic problems in a professional environment, using a real programmer’s toolkit. The concept was developed and is used at world renowned Carnegie Mellon University, and spinoff company PROXCER is now bringing this opportunity to academia and private sector globally.

Through collaboration with E-SCN, PROXCER will be donating batches of SDE (Software Developer Examination) vouchers and preparation material to all National Point of Contacts of ECWT, so that a set of girls already engaged in ICT in many countries will have the chance to measure their skills.

Telecentre- Europa collaborating with ECWT already in connection with e-skills events, under mutual understanding of the benefits deriving from collaboration between two different but equal level strong EU umbrella networks, represents the European digital inclusion and digital literacy sector in Europe. Their members are focused on helping individuals get online, teach them basic and advanced digital skills and help individuals benefit from opportunities that the ICT sector can offer.

Telecentre-Europe, Microsoft, and E-SCN are currently engaged in a project which gives young people in formal and informal education, as well as unemployed youth, the opportunity to prepare for and take Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and/or Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certifications. This project is now being extended to ECWT, where 400 girls will now have the opportunity to become certified in either MOS or MTA throughout Europe.


(Source: ECWT)

Friday, May 16, 2014 9:06:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Commission is looking for Europe's best startups in this year's Tech All Stars competition. The lucky winners will have exclusive access to Europe's most prestigious startup events and will pitch to the likes of Sir Richard Branson and Chad Hurley.

European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU said "Part of businesses success is making the right connections and the European Commission can help open doors. Finalists will get connected to EU funding sources, successful entrepreneurs and other influential people".

The competition is open to EU registered startups younger than 3 years, which have raised less than €1 million in external funding. Applications are open until May 22nd 2014.

Tech All Stars Competition
  • 10th-11th June 2014. Over two days, 12 finalists get to know London's vibrant startup scene, connect, learn and get inspired by successful entrepreneurs. Finalists will be trained and challenged in an eliminatory pitch battle and a distinguished selection panel will chose the top three.
  • June 12th Founders Forum London. Top three finalists pitch their startup to a world-class audience of tech leaders and investors. The best European startup will be elected, and the winner will be announced by Neelie Kroes
  • Summer 2014. The Grand Tech All Stars Winner will be panellist at the European Commission's Digital Agenda Assembly again rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers of the tech world.

Previous Tech All Star Winners include Irish company Trustev which offers real time, online verification using social fingerprinting technology (see MEMO/13/557) and Cognicor a Spanish start-up offering an automated complaint resolution service (see MEMO/12/472).

Background
StatupEurope is the European Commission action plan to strengthen the business environment for web and ICT entrepreneurs in Europe and contributing to innovation, growth and jobs. It is a Digital Agenda initiative supported by @NeelieKroesEU to help innovative tech companies start in Europe and stay in Europe.

Further Information

Friday, May 16, 2014 8:52:34 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Telecentre Academy (TCA), the capacity building arm of Telecentre.org Foundation, will soon be launching a new course entitled “Women, Entrepreneurship and ICTs”. Designed specifically for women with an enterprising spirit and an idea of what they want to start, the course seeks to equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills in entrepreneurship and encourage them to pursue entrepreneurial activities.

Recognizing the gap between training initiatives focused on the use of ICT tools in the enterprise world and those full blown business administration courses that take much longer to complete, TCA developed its latest course offering in an effort to bridge this particular gap.

The course, which will delve into the practical aspects of starting a business, will be made available in English and Spanish and is expected to kick off in June in Europe and Africa. It will run for a period of 8 weeks or a total of 40 work hours. A self-directed and collaborative learning approach will be employed where the participants themselves will set their learning goals and link them to their enterprising activities. A tutor will be on hand to facilitate the learning process and guide them through the training and exercises.

All participants who will successfully complete the course will obtain a corresponding certificate from TCA. Through this course which was developed in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), TCA also hopes to build a community of practice where people who have taken the course can exchange knowledge, experiences, resources and good practices.

TCA will be offering the course for a minimal fee, the rate of which may vary per country. Some scholarships and discounts may be awarded depending on local demand.
Interested in partnering with TCA and introducing this entrepreneurship course to your network? Don’t hesitate to contact the TCA team.

Further information

Friday, May 16, 2014 7:01:13 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


1,700 High School Students Compete for More than US$5M in Los Angeles.

The world's largest high school science research competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, a program of Society for Science & the Public, comes to Los Angeles May 11-16. Approximately 1,700 high school students selected from 435 affiliate fairs in more than 70 countries, regions and territories will share ideas, showcase cutting edge research and inventions, and compete for more than US$5 million in awards. The full list of finalists is available in the event program (starting at page 47).

Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation, and Rick Bates, interim CEO and chief advancement officer of Society for Science & the Public, will be available for comment at the event. "Through the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, Intel aims to empower students to develop innovations that positively impact the way we work and live", said Wendy Hawkins, executive director of the Intel Foundation. "We hope the competition will not only shine a spotlight on the finalists' achievements, but also encourage more youth to embrace science, technology, engineering and math".

"By earning the right to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, student finalists have proven they have the capability and desire to become the leading scientists and engineers of tomorrow", said Rick Bates, interim CEO and chief advancement officer of Society for Science & the Public. "Intel ISEF is not only a chance to compete for awards but an opportunity to learn, be inspired, and share their research with fellow top young students from around the world".

To learn more about Society for Science & the Public, visit www.societyforscience.org, and follow the organization on Facebook and Twitter.

Further details

Friday, May 16, 2014 6:54:44 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


Cisco is on a mission to make Kenyan girls embrace ICT careers and be part of the ever growing sector of the economy.

This comes amid reports by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that the number of school girls opting to study technology-related disciplines on the decline in most countries worldwide.

Cisco hopes to join ITU to champion the catalytic role a tech career can play in creating exciting, far-reaching opportunities for women and girls. The company recently hosted a ‘Girls in ICT Day’ for girls aged between 14-18 to hear about the vital role that ICT plays in employability today and how the Internet of Everything will create the jobs of tomorrow.

“Cisco has been involved in ‘Girls in ICT Day’ since it started four years ago. We understand the value of a diverse workforce, and believe that many more girls would pursue careers in ICT if they were better informed about the many different types of jobs available within the sector’, said Hital Muraj, Corporate Affairs Manager, East and Central Southern Africa.

The 26 girls from various institutions were mentored by representatives from from Global Peace Foundation, Safaricom and UNESCO, and encouraged to embrace ICT careers and reap from the male-dominated sector.

The Girls in ICT Day is an annual day of activities organized by the International Telecommunications Union aimed at improving the understanding of careers in ICT among girls.

To help inspire girls to consider a future in technology, ITU established the ‘Girls in ICT Day’ back in 2010 and supports the global organization of activities every year on the fourth Thursday in April. Currently in its 4th year, global momentum around Girls in ICT Day continues to grow with over 100 countries touted to hold events hosted by governments, private sector and NGOs in 2014.

This year Cisco will be hosting 2,500 girls at almost 80 of their offices worldwide and across 37 countries in EMEAR giving them the opportunity to network with each other and other role models to inspire them to consider an IT career.

During their visit to Cisco, students will be able to experience and engage with Cisco’s technologies for themselves, including collaboration platforms such as TelePresence and Jabber.

These platforms will enable interaction on the day and beyond with other Girls participating across the globe and of the leading women working within Cisco and its partners and customers.

“By 2020 there will be approximately 50 billion objects connected to the Internet. At its essence, the Internet of Everything is the networked connection of people, process, data and things…and is set to create an unprecedented level of disruption across industries, globally”, said Muraj.

(Source: Biztech Africa)

Friday, May 16, 2014 6:45:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 


The latest ITU report, Digital Opportunities: Innovative ICT Solutions for Youth Employment, carries an important message for youth, the private sector, academia and government policy makers seeking to address youth unemployment: youth need digital skills if they want to get a job or start a business.

Digital literacy is effectively a prerequisite for employment and starting a business in all countries, and ICTs should be prioritized in all national youth employment and entrepreneurship strategies.

Firstly, how bad is youth unemployment?
According to the ILO Global Trends for Youth Unemployment 2013 report, 73 million young people were unemployed worldwide and three times as many are underemployed. A further 621 million youth are said to be “NEET” — not in education, employment or training. Youth make up 17 per cent of the world’s population and 40 per cent of the world’s unemployed.

High youth unemployment not only hampers economic growth, but for youth it can be a debilitating experience that affects their ability to lead productive and rewarding lives. Urgent attention is needed to address the plight of youth and provide them better opportunities for employment.

One of the causes of youth unemployment is a skills mismatch between what the market is seeking and what institutions of learning – both formal and informal – are providing. Many employers claim they cannot find people with the job skills they need. Youth without digital skills are being cut out of a growing number of job and business opportunities.

Policy makers reading this report could draw only one conclusion: To promote youth employment it is essential that youth in their countries obtain digital skills, including how to become ICT creators.

ICTs should be included in youth employment and entrepreneurship strategies for three key reasons:

1.More jobs and businesses require ICT skills
2.ICTs are transforming the way young digital entrepreneurs do business
3.There is an explosion of online learning opportunities and resources for job seekers and digital entrepreneurs

ICTs are transforming old market sectors including farming, manufacturing and the health sector, and creating new market sectors that didn’t exist even a few years ago, like social media management, gaming and the mobile apps economy. The demand for both basic and more advanced ICT skills cuts across all sectors, from agriculture and construction to education and service industries to ICT jobs themselves, in both developing and developed countries. Basic digital literacy is increasingly required just to find job listings and apply for a job.

What kinds of opportunities exist?
Youth with mid-level digital skills can earn wages through offshore services, such as information technology outsourcing (ITO) and business process outsourcing (BPO), crowdsourcing and microwork (task-oriented work opportunities for data entry, coding, tagging and other text-based tasks).  Mobile financial services like M-PESA are making it easier for young people to receive payment for services rendered. CrowdFlower is one example of crowdsourcing which hires people in more than 70 countries.

Youth trained as ICT creators are working developing apps, games and social network websites.  Since the iPhone was introduced in 2007, the app economy has generated roughly 752,000 app related jobs in the US and 530,000 jobs in the European Union as of 2013, according to Vision Mobile. While currently much of the apps development taking place in developing countries is for export to the US, Europe and Asia, it is expected that in a few years’ time, local demand in developing countries will reach the levels of demand in Europe and North America as smartphone penetration rises.  This will give rise to a need for apps development relevant to local languages and content.

New ways of working and learning
The report also highlights new ways digital entrepreneurs are working, such as tech hubs or app labs. These are business incubation spaces that provide solutions to young digital entrepreneurs: they provide Internet connectivity, support structures (including shared office space), mentorship and collaboration. Tech hubs and app labs are springing up throughout the developed and developing world including Applabs funded by the Grameen Foundation in Colombia, Ghana, Indonesia and Uganda.

Despite the fact that digital skills are not systematically being taught in all schools, the report recognizes that youth can obtain vital digital and business skills online. The report documents the explosion of new learning opportunities that can enable youth to get the right skills, including Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), open courseware and mobile learning as well as hackathons and mobile app competitions.  All of these opportunities point to the need to promote collaborative learning in digital skills development strategies.

The report includes a number of policy recommendations, including ensuring digital skills and collaborative learning is part of school curricula, hosting innovation and co-working spaces for entrepreneurs and funding app contests and competitions.

ITU’s Telecommunication Development Sector (BDT) has created a new Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Resources Database to assist young people to find and use these digital opportunities. This database contains resources for finding employment, becoming an entrepreneur, learning technical and soft skills, finding a mentor, searching for funding, networking, and many other valuable services.

Access the full report here and find out more about ITU’s work for Digital Inclusion and visit ITU’s Youth Employment Database.

(Source: ITU Blog)

Friday, May 16, 2014 5:41:20 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |