Workshop on Rural Knowledge Centre, 22-24 February, Bangladesh

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For fostering the rural prosperity, all over the developing world a new concept of Rural Knowledge Centres (RKC) has been emerged through which villagers can proceed towards poverty alleviation by increasing their household income. To aid the implementation of this government initiative and bridging the acute digital divide that exists between rural and urban areas, Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication recently conducted a three days training workshop, from 22nd Feb to 24th Feb, 2006 at YPSA Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC), Sitakund, Chittagong, focusing on establishment and management policies of Rural Knowledge Centre under the title of ‘Rural Knowledge Centre: How to Get Started and Keep Going’.

Promoting Rural Knowledge Centres (RKC)
Mr. AHM Bazlur Rahman, Chief Executive Officer, BNNRC and Mr. Golam Nabi Jewel, Consultant, BNNRC and e-Activist played the roles of Training Coordinator and Focal Trainer respectively. Besides, Mr. Debobroto, Head, ICT4D unit, YPSA also conducted some sessions in the training.

The inauguration ceremony was graced by local elected body Al-hazz Abul Kalam Azad, Municipal Chairman, Sitakund upazila. Mr. Jalal Uddin Ahmed, Upazilla Nirbahi Officer (UNO), head of local civil servants attended the unadorned concluding session. A total of 19 participants from 10 development organisations of which nine are working in the coastal belt of Bangladesh attended the training. At the training workshop, Ms. Shipra Sharma, Research Officer, One World South Asia and Mr. Bibhusan Bista, Technical Officer, Bellanet South Asia (Nepal Office) were present as participant observer.

In a participatory way at the training workshop, the participating organisations tried to determine the information needs of their respective areas  in a prescribed framework provided by the organisers. Besides, they tried to distinguish probable activities administrable through RKC within their working periphery. Finally, an action plan under which the participating organisations will start the process of RKC establishment, was developed.

Targets and outputs
Being a network mandated to work for narrowing the digital divide, BNNRC took this initiative for addressing her obligation to strengthen the ICT movement in Bangladesh. This is the first course of this type introduced in Bangladesh. This course was designed and organised aiming to aid achieving the five following targets: (i) ICT matrix depicted in PRSP (within 2015 Bangladesh Government is determined to build telecentres in every village), (ii) WSIS action plan, (iii) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), (iv) Action plan prepared by Bangladesh Caucus in OWSA ARM-2006 (one Rural Knowledge Centre in every union by 2015) and (v) National ICT Policy, 2002.

One of the outputs of this training workshop will be a well structured, comprehensive and user friendly guide along with a national curriculum which will help in establishing, managing and organising further  Rural Knowledge Centre all over Bangladesh. Comparing to other parts of Bangladesh, situation is relatively worse in disaster prone and more vulnerable coastal region when we talk about initiatives facilitating access to information. In this context, currently the biggest challenge the country is facing is in shaping and determining the usage of ICT in these areas. It needs to develop a replicable course of actions that can assure success of this endeavour. So, almost all the participants selected for the first batch of this training workshop, came from organisations working in the coastal belt of Bangladesh.

This training workshop successfully instigated interest among the members from government offices, donor community, civil society and ICT practitioners.  The next training workshop on establishment and management policies of Rural Knowledge Centres will be arranged in the next June, 2006. For ensuring optimum use of recently launched fiber optic cable and positive advancement of the livelihood of rural populace, BNNRC expressed her optimism of conducting such training in every three months and thus aids the spreading of RKC through out the country. BNNRC feels RKC can play a significant role in empowering the target beneficiaries of all development initiatives. Standing on today’s ground, she no longer believes that ICT is a privilege only to the financially able or solvent populace, but wants to declare that it is one of the very basic rights for every human being irrespective of wealth, age, race, nationality or religion.n

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