On May 11, 2012, the Ministry of Justice of Georgia launched the "Computer Knowledge Society Initiative" (კომპიუტერის ცოდნის გამავრცელებელი საზოგადოების, in Georgian, Google translate works nicely) to promote digital literacy and e-skills, with a focus on economic development. The Ministry is hip with social media; they even tweeted the launch.
The first stage of the project will establish computer centers in 300 villages, to later extend to 600 villages.
Managers as infomediaries
Staff will be selected though an open competition. People can apply individually or in pairs (each center will have two operators). Those selected will receive access to training and an internship, free equipment (three computers + peripherals), and a year of technical support.
Staff will act as infomediaries and provide support to community members, with a focus on:
Private sector partnerships & financial sustainability
The initiative is intended to be financially sustainable. There will access fees and center operators can provide complementary services to supplement income. Partnerships with the private sector (banks, insurance companies, parcel delivery companies, etc.) are expected to expand service offerings.
Gambling, gaming, and “entertainment network” will be prohibited.
How will Telecentre-Europe get involved?
As far as I understand, the Ministry is not aware of Telecentre.org. So, my lovely Telecentre-Europe folks, I suggest you get in touch with them and help make this a success. We're all aware of the pitfalls of big, top-down government projects.
I'm not sure if they intend to build new centers, or whether they will be housed within existing infrastructure.
In the interest of long-term sustainability it would be most awesome to see this initiative partner with LIBRARIES (yes, I'm screaming, see Beyond Access: Libraries Powering Development) and existing public access efforts.
Prior research on public access Georgia
Also because I'm an incurable knowledge-sharer I'm attaching three reports from the Technology & Social Change (TASCHA) Group's Public Access Landscape Study, which from 2007 to 2009 examined ICT access and use in 25 countries, including Georgia.
Likely also the results of TASCHA's Global Impact Study will also be of interest to the initiative (especially because it looks at whether prohibiting non-instrumental uses, such as gaming, is reall... — or not...).
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