27 August 2008

Brazil: digital inclusion, but how?

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Aprendiz
While hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on digital inclusion projects in Latin America, many of the programs start and end with the technology, writes CNET News (as part of its ongoing series exploring computing in Latin America).

[Cafe] Aprendiz [in Sao Paulo, Brazil] is not your typical digital inclusion center, but it does embrace most important characteristics of the successful ones. It has at least three key elements beyond the technology itself: a clear curriculum, community support, and a model of sustainability.

While these elements sound straightforward, they are often missing in programs that attempt to close the digital divide, whether here in Latin America or in the U.S. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on digital inclusion projects in Latin America, however critics say that too many of the programs start and end with the technology.

“The computer is just 10 percent of the cost of ensuring lower income people or schools use these tools and have access to the Internet” said Maria Eugenia Estenssoro, an Argentine senator from the country’s Coalicion Civica, an opposition party. […]

Among the most successful inclusion centers [in Brazil] are the ones that have a purpose–whether it is helping students with homework, providing job training for the unemployed, or helping the disabled to communicate.

The article includes some interesting insights on the emerging market strategies of Intel and Microsoft.

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