February 2007

Communities of Practice in Telecentres

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Telecentres or village knowledge centres are taking the centre-stage, thanks to the Government of India's project-Community Service Centres, ably backed by the momentum set off by the Alliance partners of Mission 2007. The project is significant for its humungous reach, ensuring ubiquitous access to the entire country while building up the much needed infrastructure, all across the country. Not only are national level telecentre networks creating, coalescing and growing in strength, but also are sharing knowledge and experiences across countries, building a regional momentum.

Case studies from many different countries provide a panoramic view of the developments in the region. In preparing for the recently held eAsia2007 conference, we have had the opportunity of reflecting on the strength of well planned and interactive telecentre networks, academics, researchers, and policy makers, as well as to learn about the scenario in Asia, largely focussed on South Asia and South East Asia.

A close examination of the aspirations, up-scaling plans and the challenges that continue to confront the telecentre movement indicates not only the need to keep a development perspective in the forefront, but also to balance it with economic and social sustainability questions. Other key challenges that requires addressing include development and collation of local need based content, addressing the diverse language issues (both technical and cultural), coping with cultural and social diversities, dealing with the special needs of people with different abilities and responding to the needs of sustaining the programmes emerges.

In our current issue of i4d magazine, the fundamental role of learning and knowledge sharing for content, capacity building and sustainability of telecentres have been addressed through our various features that have been presented.

We are pleased to share with our readers that the Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies, in partnership with telecentre.org and lead partners Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, International Development Research Centre and Microsoft have committed to bring out a magazine dedicated to this subject, in line with our commitment to provide a forum for learning, sharing and collaborative knowledge development.  We would like to hear from our readers their interest to be part of the telecentre community. Please do not hesitate to write to us with any inputs, ideas and stories that can be shared.

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