Telecentres have been hailed as the solution to development problems in all the countries of the world because of their ability to provide desperately needed access to knowledge and information with the help of ICTs. The telecentres are of various types in terms of functions, infrastructural facilities, ownership and management patterns. In their most basic form, such centres may be no more than public call offices or telekiosks run by local shopkeepers to provide telephone and fax services. In their more advanced form, they aim to be multipurpose development agencies, offering info-exchange, tailored to suit government and community requirements for tele-education, tele-training, tele-medicine, tele-trading and tele-commerce.
The telecentre movement had its origin in the mid-1980s in Scandinavia. Later it spread to Australia and North America, and since 1990s, it is taking root in the other parts of the globe.
In 1983, in the United States, the first ‘community technical centre’ was established in Harlem. In 1980s, the telecentre initiative started spreading in the European countries; the first ‘telecentre’ was opened in the villages of Vemdalen and Harjedalen of North Sweden in 1985, aiming to provide the basic telecommunication services for the local, isolated population.
In next ten years, the number of the European telecentres grew to some hundred. At that time, the Anglo-Saxon model, which was different from the Scandinavian model aiming at social development, was taking shape on the European continent. The Anglo-Saxon model of the telecentres can be described as commercial/business telecentres, initiatives that provide long-term access to the ICT devices primarily aiming at profit production. In the nineties and mainly in the developing world, the Scandinavian model came to the forefront again.
Expansion of the networks
The Queensland Open Learning Network (QOLN) was established in 1989 by the Queensland State Government to expand the scope and range of educational opportunities through a statewide network of Open Learning Centres. The Western Australia Telecentre Network was established to explore ways for those wishing to pursue post-compulsory studies in remote and rural Western Australia.
The Warwickshire Rural Enterprise Network (WREN) in UK was established in 1991 by the National Rural Enterprise Centre (NREC). The Hungarian telecottage movement grew out of a community development programme in 1993 in Cs