ICT — and especially broadband Internet connectivity — offers a uniquely powerful way to accelerate social and economic development.
Communities that lack ICT access and ICT know-how risk being left behind.
One very practical way to tackle this challenge: use existing facilities, such as schools and telecentres, to improve skills and expand opportunities. ITU is committed to supporting this effort.
In April 2011, ITU launched a partnership with telecentre.org in the Philippines. Over the next 18 months, it will train one million unskilled women to use computers and modern ICT applications.
By the end of next year, training courses will have been offered via telecentre.org in at least 20,000 telecentres around the world.
The new Women’s Digital Literacy Campaign will have an enormous impact on improving opportunities for women, and help greatly in achieving MDG 3 on gender equality.
ITU and telecentre.org are encouraging national governments, the private sector and international organizations to contribute training materials in local languages, as well as teachers and other resources.
At ITU we are providing our ITU Academy platform for distance learning, as well as free ITU toolkits and software.
We will also contribute materials created by our Telecommunication Development Bureau, BDT. These materials are designed to improve digital literacy among all groups in a population, including people with disabilities. They also show how ICT can be used to support economic activities such as handicrafts, tourism and agriculture.
Connect a School, Connect a Community is one of ITU’s flagship projects. It aims to provide Internet access to schools that can then also act as ICT hubs for the people who live around them, as well as for their students.
ITU’s most recent project under this banner was launched in May with the Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka. It will connect 25 rural schools in the province of Akuressa, which will be provided with ICT hardware and Internet connectivity.
The Sri Lanka project is an excellent example of what has been called a public-private-people’s partnership, or the ‘4 Ps. It includes local communities, as well as telecommunication operators, Internet service providers and NGOs, and is funded by the Asian Development Bank.
In addition, Intel plans to offer training for 62 teachers at 31 schools, focusing on how they can integrate ICT into their lessons and encourage students to use its potential.
Promoting school-based community ICT centres is an attractive, affordable, and sustainable step forward in providing digital opportunities in communities everywhere – especially those that are most at risk of being marginalized.