Massive "Computer Knowledge Society" Initiative in Georgia to Launch 300 Centers


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:

  • Education — Basic computer, Internet, search, and programming skills
  • Economic development — Using and creating e-commerce sites (such as mymarket.ge and myauto.ge), sharing via social media (YouTube, Facebook)
  • Access — Use of ICTs for access to education, government services, and social service agencies/organizations (for example Georgia's Civil Development Agency is a project partner)

 

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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Comment by Katie Gomelauri on June 15, 2012 at 11:01

Dear Loreta! thank you for sharing this information! Hi dear Friends, I am Katie Gomelauri, on of the representatives of the Ministry of Jutstice who visited Langas i ateiti last week. We would much appreciate further contact with all intersted side and your suggestions for further possible actions to perform. Thank you!

Comment by Christine Prefontaine on June 14, 2012 at 17:14

Hi Loreta,

Great news! Thanks for sharing. Exchanges like this will help them succeed — I hope there will be more to come. And it would be wonderful if the connecting continues at the Telecentre-Europe meeting in October. Please 

keep me posted.

Comment by Loreta Krizinauskiene on June 13, 2012 at 15:28

Last Friday guests from from Georgia visited  Langas i ateiti here in Vilnius.Representatives from Min of Justice + Georgian parliament member were interested in Public Internet access and ICT training activities in Lithuania. We shared our experience and decided to be in touch re. Georgian big ICT project with 300 new access points. I thought it could be useful to get them know about Telecentre-Europe and provided the info. Guests  will consider the possibility to join TC annual meeting in October

Comment by Christine Prefontaine on June 12, 2012 at 17:34

That is great news. Please keep us posted. Be really great to have a success story come out of this. Georgia rocks :)

Comment by Laurentiu Bunescu on June 12, 2012 at 11:15

Many thanks Christine for providing such a well documented blogpost on the initiative in Georgia. We have already established a connection with the Ministry of Justice, through one of our member organizations, and we will follow up with more details about the developments. 

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