The digital breach: illiteracy of the 21st Century

"The new technologies should not become an added exclusion factor. Children of the most vulnerable areas deserve the access to internet with all its implications" explains Carolina Moreno, responsible for Technological Initiatives at Entreculturas.

On September 8, the World Literacy Day, Entreculturas demands the need to support the New Technologies among the less favoured populations. Entreculturas believes that all people have the same right to have an education which will allow them to develop and integrate in society and works so that in the 21st century, the digital illiteracy may not be yet another obstacle to reach social justice.

According to the International Telecommunications Union, currently around 8000.000 villages around the world do not have access even to the basic telephone services. This represents almost 30& of the total number of villages. These people do not benefit from the advantages of the ICT.

Whilst in Europe and the US there are 500 million internet users( out of the almost 1.000 million users in the planet), there are only 4 million in the African continent and these differences exist also between men and women, cities and rural areas, ages, social status etc. and are similar to the traditional "breaches": the access to health aid, education, infant mortality, hunger, poverty.

Internet Odyssey

As a member of the Education Movement, Fe y Alegría, Entreculturas is promoting an Information Technology Programme for the less favoured populations in Latin America. This programme tries to improve education for more than 1.200.000 students and 25.000 teachers in 16 countries by setting up info technology classrooms and a school portal (Mundo Escolar) to favour the exchange of education experiences, teaching methods, projects, questions and answers in order to enrich themselves regardless of distances or cultural differences.

But the reality of these communities is not easy. Jannet Sanchez, coordinator for the Danubio Azul Centre in Bogotá, Colombia, speaks of the difficulties of her students." Currently, students of 9th grade are carrying out a small project called "Today's World", which in the education portal "Mundo Escolar" tries to be a place in the web for thinking and discussion on how to achieve a fairer society. This has been and is an odyssey considering the access difficulties of the students to internet. To begin with, our school is not connected, therefore the students either go walking to the school La Paz( where the 10th and 11th grade study) every morning , where there are only 17 computers or they either go in the afternoons, if they have money to the cyber café. Either of these two options is complicated since there are 109 students in 9th grade. However, achievements can be seen. In Fe y Alegría we know how necessary training in ICT for the students to have a dignified future". The students of the Danubio Azul School come from a very deprived area.

Mundo Escolar is in the framework of an ambitious programme, supported by Entreculturas that also considers setting up info technology classrooms and an e-learning platform (inter active learning) in http://aulavirtual.feyalegria.org/. "At present we have designed our On Line Training Model for Popular Educators so that participants may learn, enjoy the learning process and set up a network of professionals with common interests; the improvement of our Latin America's teachers has been a priority of work and dedication for the last 50 years; the e-learning will help with space limitations, time and financing" says Mª José Trejo, e-learning coordinator at International Fe y Alegría Federation.