Launched back in 2001, World Computer Literacy Day which falls each year on December 2nd aims to curb the digital divide that exists in the world today. The Day aims to increase awareness of this ‘divide’ and increase access to information technology for disadvantaged communities.
From the Internet and mobile phones to TV and broadcast radio, the rise of information and communications technologies (ICTs) is often said to be creating a ‘global village’. But as yet, this is a lopsided community. ICTs, in particular broadband Internet access, are still heavily concentrated in the North despite fast-growing use in rural Africa and in some emergent economies, such as Brazil and China.
The North-South gap in access to, and the capability to use, modern information technology is a major barrier to the development of these countries. By gaining a foothold in affordable ICTs, the poor can access the knowledge and services they need to boost their livelihoods.
When we look at internet usage, 70% of Ireland’s population are regular internet users, versus only 1% for Ethiopia. There has been somewhat of a digital boom in Kenya with the number of internet users increased to 26% of population in December 2010, up from 10% in the previous year. Looking at the number of computers in the home, 76% in Ireland have access to a computer at home, versus 3% in Tanzania and 2% in Zambia.
The benefits and impact of ICT are well-documented. In education, outcomes include an ‘increased knowledge of school subjects, improved attitudes about learning, and the acquisition of new skills needed for a developing economy’. It is also suggested that ICT helps to ‘close the gender gap’, and aid students with special needs. Poor ICT capacity constrains national development at all levels, with the lack of ICT access hampering the opportunities of the next generation and undermining their employment potential.
To mark World Computer Literacy Day this Sunday, Camara, who have delivered digital literacy to nearly 500,000 disadvantaged children around the world, are asking people to give up technology for the day and highlight the digital divide that still exists in the 21st century.
Join us and help to highlight the importance of digital literacy for all in the 21st century. Challenge others to do the same by going to camara.org/techfast.