Broadband in Brazil: A Multipronged Public Sector Approach to Digital Inclusion

With 35 million fixed and mobile broadband subscribers, Brazil ranks among the top ten countries worldwide by total number of broadband users. Its large population, however, places the country’s broadband penetration outside the top-50 worldwide. This report explores the challenges, opportunities and successes that define Brazil’s Information and Communication Technology experience.

Regionally, Brazil is slightly above the Latin American average in terms of penetration, but behind Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. Speed of access follows a similar pattern – Brazil is better than the regional average, but below US or European levels. Likewise, Brazil has relatively good international fiber connectivity, although it is not as well connected as some of its neighbors. Similarly, prices for telecommunication and broadband access are lower than other countries in the region yet still relatively high compared to North America and Europe, especially outside the major cities. Phones, computer and telecommunication equipment are also significantly higher in cost, partly due to import duties on IT equipment, further reducing affordability of access among the lower-income groups.

In an effort to help to improve coverage and reduce the cost of broadband access, the government has begun a major broadband infrastructure development initiative which has set ambitious targets to triple broadband uptake by 2014. The largest ICT infrastructure project ever carried out in Brazil, called the National Broadband Plan (PNBL), it aims to ensure that broadband access is available to low-income households, especially in areas that have so far been poorly served.

Read the report (pdf): http://www.infodev.org/en/Document.1128.pdf

Read more: http://www.infodev.org/en/Publication.1128.html

CodeNow Teaches Students How to Code

CodeNow (a non-profit organization) focuses on developing the next pioneers in technology by teaching underserved youth foundational skills in computer science and programming with the objective of narrowing the current digital divide. The organization teaches high school students the basics of computer programming and computer science in free, extra-curricular, off-campus trainings and boot camps. Each student who completes their program receives a netbook, mentoring and assistance finding internships.

Working with numerous partners, the organization successfully launched its pilot program in DC in August.  In 2012 CodeNow will expand to four cities.

As founder Ryan Seashore says, “coding is the new literacy, it gives youth the ability to create and innovate.” This fantastic program gives high school students the tools to Win the Future.

To learn more about their program, go to CodeNow.org or follow them on twitter @CodeNowOrg.

Read more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/10/28/codenow-champion-non-profit

Public-Private Partnerships to Bridge Africa’s Digital Divide

Innovative partnerships involving governments, software giants and telcoms will accelerate connectivity and bridge Africa’s gaping digital divide.

Experts who met at a just concluded third edition of the Africa Public-Private Partnership Conference in Nairobi hailed the potential of structured collaboration between the public and private sectors to transform Africa into an ICT hub. Zaki Khoury, the Regional Manager, Global Strategic Accounts, Middle East, North, West, and Central Africa as well as Pakistan and Turkey at Microsoft, underscored the potential of public-private partnerships to promote universal access to ICT services in Africa.

Khoury noted that Africa is a frontier market that has attracted investments in ICT sector as the GDP of many countries expand. “We have ICT hubs in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. This calls for a revaluation of our business model to engage more with governments and private companies and leverage these partnerships to accelerate connectivity,” says Khoury.

He continued “Microsoft adopts public-private partnerships to maximize on the resources, leverage our technology and scale up our execution together with governments and other companies.” Khoury stressed that structured public private partnerships are critical in addressing social challenges such as provision of quality education and health services.

“These partnerships have boosted quality and competitiveness of the education system. They have increased collaboration among students alongside connectivity with teachers to create greater knowledge forums”, remarked Khoury.  Mainstreaming ICT in the education sector in Africa will boost skills and competitiveness of the youth in the job market.

Khoury vouched for digital learning in schools to prepare students for a knowledge based economy. Microsoft has partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of education under a “Partnership in Learning” project to develop digital curriculum for schools.

“We will in the next three years help Kenya progress towards digital literacy,” says Khoury. He cited the “Microsoft Digital Literacy” initiative that has helped streamline technology enhanced learning in schools.

Read more: http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php/technology/45-hitech/245-public-private-partnerships-to-bridge-africas-digital-divide-says-microsoft

JobScout Teaches Job Skills Using Online Game

JobScout is like many of the start-ups launching on a daily basis in Silicon Valley, except for the fact that many of its users do not even know how to use the Internet yet. A project that has been supported and seed funded by the California State Library, JobScout is a platform that provides an interactive online environment that uses game design to teach job-hunting skills and the digital literacy basics that are necessary for finding employment. Users will be able to get support in the pilot phase at nearly 140 pilot sites at library branches in California, including locations in Los Angeles County and San Jose. The libraries, a place of resources and community for many potential users, will provide entry points and guidance for new users.

Users earn badges for lessons completed and can track success and progress. Characters greet users as they enter and complete lessons. A job aggregator lets users know of the latest jobs available in their area that meet their interests. A resume builder function enables users to create a resume and print it to submit. A variety of resources for job hunting are contained in one database, streamlining the job seeking process.

The basics of the Internet that are second nature to some are thoroughly covered: Opening and using email, submitting a query on a search engine and using Facebook and LinkedIn to create profiles and find job opportunities. While the content is geared towards users finding, applying to and acquiring jobs, the lessons teach skills that reach far beyond their immediate goal.

The system’s do-it-yourself methodology and technology that learns with the users as they use it will provide an educational experience parallel to other platforms that have proven successful online. A variety of online initiatives, whether Khan Academy for math and sciences or Code Academy for the advanced Internet user who wants to pick up programming skills, have proven that self-paced and enjoyable online learning experiences are the future of education, regardless of the subject.

True access includes the appropriate infrastructure, access points, hardware and digital literacy skills to be a participant in our online community. In an era of development and companies focusing on “social,” inclusion is critical.

The platform launches this Wednesday with a live demonstration online and can be found at jobscout.caltrail.com.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-gagnier/digital-literacy-internet-access_b_1129884.html

Grandchildren and Grandparents Team up to Increase Digital Literacy in Serbia

In Belgrade, Serbia, there was an unusual event which took place for grandparents and their grandchildren. The event was organized by local NGO IAN (International Aid Network).  Teams were formed, and consisted of a grandparent who was older than 55, together with their grandchild who was younger than 13.

Teams who had previously passed the qualifications had the task to efficiently and as accurately as possible provide numerous / various answers to interesting questions in an online quiz whilst using the internet to search for necessary information.

The contestants showed that grandchildren can play an important role in bridging the digital divide which exists between generations, by teaching their grandparents about the computers as well as the internet.

The most competitive team, winners of the final round, were Darinka Despotovic and her granddaughter Marija Simeunovic, who, for their efforts, won a laptop computer. “We are thrilled to have participated in an event such as this. It means a lot to me to know how to use a computer as one can find a wide spectrum of useful and interesting information on the internet thus extending their knowledge base and broadening their horizons. Even now that I am retired, I am able to participate, while my granddaughter comes to my aid whenever it is required.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.ian.org.rs/events/clicktoeurope/dreamteam.htm