Best European Telecentre Manager 2011: Irina Kotkina, Russia

Telecentre-Europe and its partner Microsoft are pleased to announce that Irina Kotkina from Russia is the winner of the Telecentre-Europe Award 2011 in the category of "Best European Telecentre Manager" and wins the prize of an Xbox 360/Kinect Bundle donated by Microsoft.


Congratulations to Irina for her outstanding digital inclusion efforts, achievements and best practices!


Irina Kotkina's Award application:

Demonstrated attitude, performance level and innovative approach towards the digital inclusion at grassroots level:

Irina Kotkina has been the director of the library at Nenets boarding school in the town of Naryan Mar, the capital of Nenets Autonomous Area, for over twenty years.

Nenets Autonomous Area (Okrug) is located in the arctic North-West at a considerable distance from central Russia, and its vast territory of 68,000 square miles has only 42,000 permanent residents. Extreme weather conditions coupled with poor transportation and communications infrastructure make this region one of the least developed in terms of ICTs and digital equality.

Irina Kotkina is a highly qualified ICT specialist, having successfully completed a number of computer training courses both in Naryan-Mar and Moscow. In 2003 she visited the United States as part of an Open World exchange, and it proved to be an important step in her professional development. She successfully implemented the best practices of her American colleagues in a small school library, proving that “her little province is the center of the whole universe”.

Thanks to Mrs. Kotkina’s efforts the library has developed into a modern information, research, training and recreation center not only for the school but for the entire Nenets Area.

Over the last few years the computer training center of Nenets boarding school has made a significant contribution to raising the local level of digital literacy. The school library is still the only place in Nenets Area where digital literacy training is offered free of charge. Since 2008, the library has participated in PH International’s E-Inclusion programs; and Irina Kotkina has been the trainer and coordinator who served 32,257 visitors and trained 1,600 people.

The Center owes a large part of its success to Irina’s efforts in establishing effective partnerships. Among its long-term partners are the Yasavei Association of the Nenets People, the Nenets Area Retraining Institute, the Russian School Library Association, Lawyers for Civil Society, the NA Department of Education and Youth Policy, and the NA Department of the Indigenous Peoples of the North. Partners help to print and copy educational and promotional materials, purchase new media collections, finance work-related trips, sponsor seminars, expert consultations, and media campaigns.

Irina Kotkina has developed an excellent venue for attracting users to self-education in the area of ICTs, by creating her own CHUMoteka blog where she regularly posts news about the Center’s  work.

The CHUMoteka Blog won the first prize of the all-Russian contest “Wise Owl 2010”, and an award of the all-Russian contest “Positive Content 2010”, becoming the winner of the Nenets Area Golden Pen Award 2010.

For her E-Inclusion work in Nenets Autonomous Area Irina Kotkina was recognized with the Woman of the Year 2010 award. On 12 July 2011 she was appointed assistant to the governor of the Nenets Autonomous Area.

Irina Kotkina believes that the main outcomes of her work with the Tvoy Kurs Center are success stories of Tvoy Kurs alumni, who use their newly acquired skills to find employment, learn together as whole families, get in touch with their children, and help co-workers get online.


Contribution to the development of the managed telecentre:

The library at the Nenets boarding school, hosting the center, is fully fitted out with all the necessary equipment and furniture due to Mrs. Kotkina’s participation in international and Russian grant contests, including those administered by the International Barents Secretariat Barents Euro-Arctic Council (Norway, 2001), the Center for the Development of the Russian Language and Mikhail Potanin Foundation (Moscow, 2003, 2006), and the Russian School Library Association (Moscow, 2008).

As the project’s coordinator, Irina Kotkina organizes and holds Tvoy Kurs presentations for various population groups (rural teachers, senior citizens), courses and seminars customized for users’ needs, and special events and campaigns (Get Online Week). The Tvoy Kurs Center has grown in popularity even more since Nenets Area launched its E-Area Program, which requires all local residents to have elementary computer and Internet skills.

The center pays special attention to the boarding school’s young residents (orphaned and neglected children and kids from remote tundra settlements), for whom digital literacy means a ticket to successful social adaptation and an important competitive edge on the labor market. The Tvoy Kurs Center targets educators, librarians and NGO workers, senior citizens and job seekers, providing them with assistance and heartfelt support. Seeking to bridge the social and digital gap, the Center also focuses on rural residents. Irina Kotkina has facilitated training seminars for specific target groups from remote rural areas and traveled to local villages holding on-site training events.

Fully aware of the urgent need to provide ICT training for rural populations, Irina started a trainer training program with student volunteers, who went on to train their fellow-villagers in basic digital literacy during their summer vacation. Such mini-Centers, headed up by eleven volunteers (ten of them girl....

Irina Kotkina always seeks to raise public awareness of the Center’s work and mission (a visit to Russia Today, a meeting with RF deputy minister of education and science Yuri Sentyurin etc.) She regularly participates in radio and TV broadcasts on issues of developing information society in Russia (live broadcast of “Topical Issues”), she has published several papers in professional publications (“A Model of a Volunteer Training Center”) and made presentations at a number of national and International conferences (RЕLARN-2010). The work of the Center was covered in thirty-six media publications, and in 2010 it was acknowledged as one of the top twelve Tvoy Kurs Centers in Russia. 

She believes that bridging the digital gap remains one of her primary tasks, and plans to launch another Tvoy Kurs Center in Naryan Mar, since the number of local residents wishing to take digital literacy courses far exceeds the training capacity of the Tvoy Kurs Center at A.P. Pyrerka Nenets boarding school.

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Comment by Teodora Borghoff on October 27, 2011 at 16:51

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