The telecentre movement in Africa and South Asian countries is a movement to empower communities through Information Communication Technologies. It is a movement to strengthen communities to use the computer and the internet to do their daily work, for example paying bills, so that they do not have to travel distances. This movement through community participation and literacy has become very successful in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the African countries.
It is a poor oriented target group or a rural one, where access to information and communication technologies will not only be a literacy measure but an educational model to use the computer in a work and learning oriented manner.
This implies one or two things.
First there must be a Community Centre, where the village or rural community may come to. This will be the focal or rallying point for the community.
Secondly, there should be a teacher or instructor to guide members of the community which will straddle across cross sections: men and women, young and old in the manner of Continuing Education, inclusive of Adults.
The Community Centre should be equipped with at least 3 – 4 computers and the people may use them in batches. For sustainability some nominal fees can be charged from individuals, but it should not be an exclusively business model. The emphasis shuld be on education and livelihoods as well as literacy.
The IGNOU Institute for Vocational Education and Training, where I work is collaborating with BASIX India a leading social entrepreneurship group in India to impart computer literacy in the Common Service Centres of Meghalaya to impart computer literacy in all the districts of the state, in about 60 Common Service Centres. The Meghalaya Government has instituted these Common Service Centres, and has handed them to BASIX India for community multi-purpose projets. We in turn have made an intervention, by suggesting to BASIX India, that collaboratively we can impart computer literacy through short term courses of three months duration leading to certification.
This experiment started in July 2010 and is continuing. The components taught are: MS Word, Excel, Power Point, typing and browsing the internet. Altogether more than 500 people have been trained and at the end of the third month, they appear for practical examinations as a skill test. Experience has shown that 10 – 15% trainees opt out. This entire experiment has been based on the telecentre model of human adaptibility, skills and literacy in areas beyond the block levels, so that education, in good measure can reach the unreached.