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‘Intel Outside’: Integrating Technology in Community Learning: An interview with Ashutosh Chadha, Director, Strategic Education Initiative, Intel Corporate Affairs, Asia Pacific Region

Dear Friends, all of you are aware of the famous Intel logo, 'Intel Inside'; actually who isn't! But now read what Intel is doing 'Outside' in the eLearning domain. It has some wonderful programmes to support telecentres or shared access spaces too. Read on an interview with Ashutosh Chadha, Director, Intel Corporate Affairs, Asia Pacific region in the April_June issue of the telecentre magazine. Some excerpts from the interview:

Q Intel's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities are geared towards achieving e-Inclusion for all through 'shared access centres'. As the Head of Intel's Strategic Education Initiatives in the Asia Pacific region, could you elaborate on the programmes that are channeled through these 'shared access centres' or telecentres and also support them.

Intel has actually been working in the shared access space and with telecentres for quite some time. For example, Intel's programmes have been running in the Akshaya centres in Kerala, India for the last five years. We also have engagements with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation Village Knowledge Centres in India for the past three years and a project with a Telecom supporting community centres across Malaysia.

Intel Education Initiative works primarily in three areas: the K-12 space, higher education, and community based learning. The objective of all our programmes is to help support the goals of local governments in driving education transformation by focusing on the effective integration of ICT into the teaching and learning processes and providing opportunities for students to develop 21st century skills.
In the community education space, we have a very strong programme called Intel Learn Programme. The objective of this programme is to provide under-served children in the 8-16 years age group with opportunities to develop 21st century skills and digital literacy by using examples that are relevant in the community and the work environment. Thus, we are enabling these learners to utilise the shared access centres or telecentres to develop skills, which are required for employability in the 21st century. Intel Learn Programme currently has two main offerings, "Technology at Work" and "Technology and Community". We are developing a new offering called "Technology for Entrepreneurship", which will provide training on how to use technological skills in managing a small business.

So while we build capacity in the content area, we also understand that a number of entrepreneurs require support in terms of effectively running their centres and marketing the programme. Thus, an additional area of intervention is providing guidance to the entrepreneurs about how to evangelise the programme to the target population and get people into the centre

At the same time, we also realised that it is extremely important to build the capacity of the organisations, and individuals who run these centres, to make them self sustainable. As a result, for the last four or five years, we have been carrying out these capacity building activities in the Kerala Akshaya Centres. Intel's efforts support the state government objectives, which in turn, empowers the local entrepreneurs, who are actually reaching out to the children and the local populace and building their skills. These local entrepreneurs, in some cases, charge a small fee from their end customers to ensure sustainability of their centres. So while we build capacity in the content area, we also understand that a number of entrepreneurs require support in terms of effectively running their centres and marketing the programme. Thus, an additional area of intervention is providing guidance to the entrepreneurs about how to evangelise the programme to the target population and get people into the centre. Intel believes that the important issue in the telecentre context is not just the creation of the infrastructure, but how we utilise the infrastructure, and also how we enable the owner/operator to build a sustainable business model that can scale to meet the needs of the community.

The implementation model for these programmes keeps a sharp focus on sustainability, scale and impact. We have entrepreneurs at the grassroots level, who deliver the services, partners who provide the finance and infrastructure facilities; and organisations, such as Intel, who provide the content and services. In addition to these programmes, we also look at technological solutions to help support the Shared Access opportunities including research, development and deployment of low cost, low power and highly efficient devices like the netbooks or Classmate PC's (CMPC), which are portable and rugged. At the same time we are exploring the usage of these devices using solar power and in different mobility scenarios like on cycles, boats etc. Another area that Intel is working on that is very relevant to the telecentre domain is how technology can be used in the area of health. For example, Intel is exploring how we can use technology for remote medical diagnostics, tele-medicine, or even for training the paramedical staff in villages and remote areas. This not only provides another usage model for the shared access centres, but also addresses a very key social need.

In addition to these programmes, we also look at technological solutions to help support the Shared Access opportunities including research, development and deployment of low cost, low power and highly efficient devices, like the netbooks or Classmate PC's (CMPC), which are portable and rugged

We have recently done a preliminary study on the issue of sustainability in shared access centres based on the experience gained in the Akshaya centres across Kerala, India. The objective of the study was to help us understand the issues which contribute to the sustainability of the centre. Initial findings show that it is not just financial viability, which needs to be measured. In addition to the finances, there are other important criteria to be considered including availability of localised services, value added services and social acceptance, which also contribute to sustainability. We anticipate that this study will illustrate other important areas for us to consider with respect to sustainability.
Read the full interview at: ‘Intel Outside’: Integrating Technology in Community Learning

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Tags: Akshaya Centres, ICT, Intel, Intel Education Initiative, telecentre

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