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Flavor of the Month of February: "Youth Empowerment and Telecentres"

Many young people in most developing countries are marred by poverty, inadequate education and skills, inadequate work/employment opportunities, exploitation, diseases, civil unrest, and gender discrimination among others.

In my home country (Uganda) for example, 78% of youth between the ages of 18 – 30 years suffer from un-employment. Could this be because some opportunities like telecentres have not been utilized?

Numerous studies have shown that ICTs for Development have changed and continue to change the world. However, ICT is not always used for the benefit of all.

Young people for instance get addicted to the questionable aspects of ICT: violent computer games, online gambling, pornography, social networking, etc instead of using to it empower them-selves so they can address the challenges that they face day in, day out.

And for those willing to effectively utilize it, there is the apparent digital divide that secludes them for accessing ICT for their own benefit.

Consequently, we are interested in hearing from Telecentre.org’s Online Community about how we can:

  • Inspire and motivate young people to embrace ICT for Development, as a means to equip and empower them-selves?
  • Increase their access/ participation in telecentres?
  • Transform young people into leaders of change as they facilitate technology, business, and entrepreneurial learning experiences to people in their own communities?

Looking forward to prompt and positive responses from you all.

Kind regards

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Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

Hi Sandra! I'm so glad to see the topic of youth as our FOTM because just last week, I gave a brief talk at a wonderful event for young girls and I've been wanting to tell more people about it. The event was a Bootcamp for Tech Age Girls (TAG) in the Philippines. And although it was my first time to speak at a TAG Bootcamp, it was not the first time I've heard of TAG, which was first brought to my attention by Ari Katz from IREX. TAG is a program, currently being implemented in several countries across the globe, that aims to provide mentoring to young girls by training them to achieve skills in ICT, community engagement, leadership, etc. The way the program works in the Philippines is each girl is given basic training, first through the Bootcamp, and then they are partnered with the telecentres (or community e-centers) so they can continue their training and work with the telecentres to help the community while continuing to build their skills.

You can find out more about TAG from the IREX website: http://www.irex.org/project/tech-age-girls-tag. Or visit the Tech Age Girls Philippines page in Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAGPhils.

Dear Vida, i looked in to what you just shared and what struck me was TAG's ability to promote public debate, and civic participation by using ICT as an enabler.

Young men and women need such opportunities as TAG to create solutions meant to build their workforce readiness and technology skills so they can appreciate and utilize the resources and opportunities around them.

In the long run, they are empowered and thus are in position to improve their livelihoods and those of their communities.

Thanks for sharing our initiative Vida!
Tech Age Girls is a program done in partnership with the the Philippine Community eCenter Network, IREX and the US State Department. We encourage and develop skills of promising young female leaders, from high schools all over the country by providing them with specialized information technology (IT) training and opportunities to engage in critical public discussion. We have worked closely with our Community eCenters for the past year to identify and train high school girls with leadership and ICT skills potentials. From a preliminary selection of more than 300 girls from different regions and provinces, 28 finalists were sent to Manila for a 10-day "TAG Bootcamp". During this time, they developed the knowledge and skills in three areas - leadership, community service and ICTs.

We are thankful that various partners from the private sector (telecoms, IT companies), IT government agencies, and other partners, including telecentre.org, for their support in this Program. Indeed, PhilCeCNet is looking at the TAG Program as a continuing initiative, as part or the country's response to telecentre.org's Telecentre Women Campaign, which we are calling the iPinay Program in the the Philippines.

We plan to have yearly, summer Bootcamps, to give opportunities to more promising young women from the provinces, in ICTs. It would also be great if this initiative can also be done in other countries, and eventually, we can all hold a regional Tech Age Girls bootcamp, which will bring together the best girls from each country.

So, what do you guys think? This would be a great initiative for other countries to do, and PhilCeCNet will be more than glad to help out!

You can find out more about TAG from the IREX website: http://www.irex.org/project/tech-age-girls-tag. Or visit the Tech Age Girls Philippines page in Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAGPhils.

Thank you Sandra for focusing on youth empowerment and telecentres.
We have to ensure the positive use of ICT for development.
We should also be proactive to prevent and discourage the negative use
of ICT.The use of ICT in pornography,sexual harassment, eve teasing,exploitation,forgery,
fraudulence has reached an alarming scale.
I hope both positive and negative aspects of ICT in relation to youth and development will be reflected in this important discussion.Effective measures should also be considered to curb the negative use of ICT and telecentres.

Thank you so much Dr. Syed for your prompt response. Nonetheless, I have a question for you, or any other community member that has insight on the topic at hand: what are some of those ways that we can encourage the positive use of ICTs and telecentres among youths in the developing world?

Looking forward to your reply.

Cheers

Sandra thanks for your article and the keen observation about the poor utilization of the ICT facilities in Telecentres by the youth. However, this your Article was too generic and to some extent you might be right because I've seen some Telecentre with no Computers! they only have the mane tag and I wonder why especially in this Digital era?

We also have to blame our leaders and some of our developing partners for not supporting the expansion of Telecentre to reach every Sub-County/Council. this would be a very good opportunity for the youth to tap the ICT knowledge and compete favorably in the Job market/Job creation.

Also the inadequacy of computers in Telecentres is also another contributing factor as some Telecentre may not afford New band computers. In Nakaseke for example in this vacation we have had a total of 25 learners being trained on only 6 computers. How long do you think it will take the youth to master the courses?
Affordability and willingness; in your article you have not looked at the side of income levels of youth and their parents. you will find that some youth are much to come for ICT classes but they or their parent cannot afford training fees and yet we can't train them for free since we have to consider sustainability.

Dear Peter, many thx for your analytical response. I left out some gaps for the members to fill in :)

All the same, the pointers you have given highlighting poor leadership, low income levels and inadequate ICT facilities in telecentres are key and as activists for ICT4D, those are some of the things we need to put into consideration whilst doing advocacy work.

However you didnt point out how we can address the issue of misuse in instances where youth have access and all, but tend not to utilize the opportunity for their own empowerment and that of their community. Given your insight in this field, we would be glad to here your point of view on this one.

Looking forward to a prompt and positive response from you.

Cheers

Hello Sandra! I want to thank you for the article and mostly i want to thank you for focusing on the youth. As a youth leader (Delegate to the National Youth Council) and Chairman Mayuge district youth council I want to say that there is vacuum and the young people have not been helped and empowered to amicably access and use ICTs. And again those who have access have misused ICT. I want to suggest that let there be Youth centres at almost every sub-county and they should have Computers to allow young people access and utilize them. It is also very important to make sensitization, teach the young people the benefits of ICTs and how best to use them and denounce the negative side that may cause young people problems. lastly we should come up with an "all inclusive" campaign that will lead the youth get involved and be part of the new development.
I thank you

Thank you so much Mathias for your brilliant ideas/ suggestions. They are not only ideal, but are practical as well.

Thank you Sandra for starting a conversation on this topic. I am the founder of a development project called Data Innovation Centre in Rwanda. We are currently setting up telecentres in different districts of the country to provide communities with Access to a high speed Internet connection of about 4Mbps, free computer training and free internet access to students. We so far have 4 centres. My Input on this would be to say that the key thing is not to only provide the youth with access to ICT services, but also a guide through how these services can be used in a productive way. For example, instead of starting a class on how to use Microsoft word with a long intro, and too many details on inputs, formatting, etc..teach them how to prepare a well developed and formatted application letter & Curriculum Vitae using Microsoft word. This not only helps the participant to pick a lot more interest in the lesson, but also shows them how to use this tool in a much more practical way. All the training and programs at our centres are developed in this way, and we are seeing great results so far. But obviously, the first thing would be to get centres that are well equipped, & facilitate the youth to have easy access to them. I also think that for a telecentre to have a massive impact, it should primarily focus it's social activities on the youth.

Thanks Dominique for sharing your practical way of encouraging the youth to use Telecentres. There is only one Telecentre in Vanuatu which we are piloting again for the next 12 months. Already we see a high intake of youths coming to the Telecentre for different reasons. Computer trainings were provided and have different stages to it. The trainees are registered and monitored on how well they have utilized their skills and what is potential for them in the workforce or educational career. Overall training has to be well structured to meet their practical needs and well coordinated. Different activities are promoted at the Telecentre to encourage youth coming to the centre.

I am very happy to learn and share from different experiences from you all. The best solutions to keep the Telecentre sustainable is my issue at the moment.

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