Closing the digital divide has become a major challenge in today’s internet world, especially as modern technology breaks down barriers of age and distance.
Laptops Galore, Argentina
Last year in Argentina the government distributed nearly 1.8 million netbooks to people in education – most of the recipients live in remote rural regions and never dreamed of becoming part of the modern digital world.
People who only received their netbooks three months ago are already using and exploring this new tool in class. Learning to use a computer is fun but also vital in the modern world. With this scheme, pupils who complete secondary school successfully, can keep their computers.
Surfing Senior Citizens, Portugal
One church in Porto, in Portugal, does not only look after the spiritual needs of its parishoners, it also aims to get senior citizens online.
Artur Santos, the teaching director of the ‘Universidade Sénior Contemporânea do Porto’, said: “Learning how to send emails, use Facebook and other platforms like Skype, means that distances between people are lessened, and especially the gap between grandparents and grandchildren is closed.”
The European Comission has designated 2012 the year of Active Ageing with learning new computer skills as part of the project.
Rainforest Online, Brazil
In the remote parts of Brazil, life has not changed for centuries, except for one thing — a new class in computer skills.
Kaluanà Tupinambá, who is learning how to use a computer, said: “All these buttons, all these words appear. I didn’t know where to start, where to finish, so it was a mess at the beginning. It still is! You can never learn everything, but I can turn it on, connect to the net, Google things, send a message. I can do that.”
The aim is to try and end isolation by using new technology, and it is working. The website Indios Online is used to communicate with the world and with other native tribes all across Brazil.
Thydewa Project director Sebastian Gerlic told euronews: “In Brazil, indiginous tribes are marginalised and ignored by the mainstream. They are invisible, forgotten, as if they belonged to a different social class. And technology allows them to show Brazil and the rest of the world who they are, how they live, and their daily reality.”
Potyra Te, who is also learning to use the internet, proudly proclaimed: “We’re showing the world who we are, we’re saying that we exist, that we use technology, that we’re learning and that we want to show the world that we can use technology as well as preserving our culture.”
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