Introduction and Background
A draft framework for a workable model for community access and management is required in ______________. This should be strengthened based on good formative research and consultations (early recruitment of a Social Development Specialist could assist with this). There should be a clear and easy-to-understand framework on costs and benefits of establishing and maintaining learning centres for communicating to schools and communities.
Parameters for a Community Learning Center (CLC) Planning Process
SchoolNet can expect to focus on very specific outcomes -
- the continued development and integration of relevant online information content via SchoolNet's web portal;
- bursary-service exchange opportunities for young volunteers @ SchoolNet with information technology skills potential;
- the development of human resource capacity to support locally standardized (and hopefully Free and Open Source Software) operating system, applications and content management system;
- approved grassroots ICT technical training and international ICT competency certification (e.g. Ingots or Open-ICDL) for decision-makers, administrators, as well as unemployed out-of-school youth at such village facilities (and at other centres such as public and school libraries, and village community resource centres).
I believe that SchoolNet can also help create local Community Information Resource centers on the back of existing community infrastructure to provide customers and partners in education with a comprehensive set of information resourcing programs and services for local communities. The goal of these centers would be to foster innovation and growth in local ICT micro-economies. Through some kind of Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), SchoolNet can collaboratively focus on planning, developing and testing innovative energy conservation mechanisms such as hardware, software content and communication solutions with an ecosystem made up of civil society, industry, education, and government partners.
Founded on extant project planning and technical support experience, SchoolNet should be able to help others understand the social and educational contexts of technology, and help devise solutions for emerging and underserved markets, both in remote rural and urban environments.
In theory, free and open source software and content should have a direct appeal to anyone concerned with education, ethics and social issues. SchoolNet remains deeply concerned that ICT staffing shortages are keeping many schools and community learning centers from realizing the full potential of (any and all) technology in education, information resourcing and communication. Clearly, lack of funding is a key stumbling block to effective school ICT support, and so it will be for any community learning center.
A big obstacle is recruiting and retaining qualified ICT staff members; the salaries are usually not competitive enough. Under these circumstances I think it would be premature to ignore the potential of technical volunteer model which has proved highly effective in other countries with SchoolNets. Critically, irrespective of ICT platform, consistent technical support plays the key role in the success and sustainability of any ICT solution, and our software, hardware, content and energy choices should based upon the solution's ability to achieve the best overall return on technology investments.
Education for Sustainable Development
We should see the Community Access and Learning centre programme as an opportunity to redress is the uncomfortable absence of Education FOR Sustainable Development (ESD) resources and modular e-learning capacity by way of ICTs at school; this would work well to aid greater synergies between school and community as well. I suspect that our many community and denominational partners will be delighted with such an angle, where literacy, aesthetic Appreciation and Creativity, Communication and Collaboration, Information Management, Responsible Citizenship, Personal Life Skills, Values and Actions will hopefully translate into our learners and communities embracing the usefulness of the School and Community Learning centers:
Our students (from school and community alike) should acquire knowledge and skills in all areas of the curriculum including skills in questioning, investigating, critical thinking, problem-solving, and decisionmaking. They should be able to apply what they have learned to further studies, work, leisure, daily living and a lifetime of learning.
- Aesthetic Appreciation and Creativity
Our students should be sensitive to the aesthetic dimension of the natural and human world, develop flexible, imaginative ways of thinking, and participate in creative activity and expression.
- Communication and Collaboration
Our students should be able to express themselves clearly, listen to others responsively, and communicate effectively using a variety of technologies. They should work cooperatively with others to achieve mutual understanding of common goals.
- Information Management
Our students should be able to find meaning in our world’s vast information resources. They should be able to identify needs, conduct research and seek solutions using a variety of sources, strategies and technologies. They should be able to evaluate and apply their findings to make sound decisions and to take responsible actions (enter Wikis and other collaborative social networking tools and skills opportunities!)
- Responsible Citizenship
Our students should value the diversity of the world’s people, cultures, and ecosystems. They should understand and actively promote equity, justice, peace, the democratic process, and the protection of the environment in their own community, country, and the world.
- Personal Life Skills, Values and Actions
Our students should care about the physical, emotional and spiritual health of themselves and others. They will pursue healthy, hopeful, purposeful lives and meaningful relationships. They should possess basic skills and good work habits, deal effectively with stress and change, and make wise choices for a sustainable future (both personal and global).
- Community Learning centre (CLC) planning
The overall vision of a local Community Learning (Resource) center (CLC) plan must be to effect systemic transformation in the sectoral support system(s) for such CLCs. It must seek to change the way such sectoral support happens. The system should be productive, efficient and ultimately sustainable within a well-defined subsidy support framework, where and when needed.
The vision of such an initiative would be to ensure that locals participate actively in the global information society and knowledge economy. The focus of planning for CLCs should be based on ensuring that such centers are better equipped to prepare people socially and economically to become proactive, engaged citizens.
Technologies are tools that should be contributing towards achieving this vision, rather than becoming another logistical problem that needs to be ‘solved’. Thus a plan is expected to operate on an assumption that any proposed use of ICT needs to demonstrate its potential in achieving this vision cost-effectively before it can be justified.
In undertaking to achieve this vision, it is necessary to establish a planning framework that takes account of the reality that different participating line ministries and allied organisations are at different stages in their rollout of ICT and have prioritized different aspects of ICT integration in their sectors.
ICT must be harnessed to make information resourcing systems more efficient, affordable and more productive, and ensure that people have access to quality (and open) information resources.