The Strategic Roadmap of the Philippine Community eCenter Program for 2008-2010
“Engaging communities in knowledge-based development”
Because of the diversified efforts in the Philippine Community eCenter landscape, all of which are geared towards a common goal of bridging the digital divide, it was deemed necessary to have a unified direction that will orchestrate such efforts and align them with the development goals of the government.
As such, through the support made available by telecentre.org, a social investment program of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Microsoft, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the project on formulating the CeC roadmap was undertaken by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (the lead agency in the Philippine CeC Program) with technical assistance from the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).
The phased implementation of the project included a mapping of current CeC activities, experienced and anticipated issues and concerns and proposed strategies to address these issues, the products and services to be offered by CeCs, major players and their respective roles in the CeC program and support systems to CeCs. The series of consultation workshops conducted in Manila, Baguio, Cebu, Tacloban, Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro and Zamboanga involved 265 participants representing CeC stakeholder groups.
The ICT4D Framework, with specific focus on the goals of Access, Network and Voice, was used as the reference point for the focus group discussions. As defined in the framework,
•Access means “to promote exchange of relevant knowledge and information for equal opportunities.”
•Networking means “to facilitate effective communication and cooperation among people and across organizations.”
•Voice means “to facilitate broad participation in democratic processes, good governance, cultural diversity and local content.”
Most of current CeC activities are on providing access to the communities they serve through Internet access. This is not surprising since the hardware and software that was assigned to the CeCs facilitated access to the Internet. Opportunities for collaboration happen through product promotion in ecommerce, linking overseas workers and their families, marketing of CeCs in schools and communities and in farmer communities. The activities clustered under the provision of voice are so far limited to those that capacitate the people to use the CeC facility.
Connectivity and power were identified as the most common concerns with regard to infrastructure. Another concern is CeC sustainability which includes political, manpower/human resource, financial, technical, and policy perspectives.
A content-related issue with implications on access is information discrepancy and accuracy. Moreover, other circumstances obtaining in the CeC environment were perceived as deterrents to provision of infrastructure, such as the peace and order situation in some CeC sites.
The need for inter-operability of the systems across CeCs as well as content sources was pointed out as a network issue. Other issues were on lack of integration and coordination and lack of social acceptance of CeCs as indicated by current low utilization.
The lack of mechanism for strengthening the voice of the community was considered a deterrent to meaningful participation of the community in decisions that affect their lives. Other issues were the inadequate level of literacy of target users and unpopularity of some CeCs compared to Internet cafes in the same area.
Other important issues raised were on the distinction between CeCs and Internet cafes and on CeC governance and management structure.
It is in the light of this reality that the Strategic Roadmap of the Philippine CeC Program was formulated.
:: Legal Bases
The Right to Information
The Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution guarantees the right of citizens to information on matters of public concern. This right is basic and inviolable and CeC efforts represent one potent option to provide everyone a means of access to information. This is to facilitate collaboration among individuals, groups and communities and to promote informed and intensive participation in governance, economic as well as social development.
The Millennium Development Goals
The first MDG on poverty reduction and the second on universal primary education are appropriately supported by the Philippine CeC program.
For the former, the CeCs provide unlimited opportunities for poverty reduction through ease of access to information on business, livelihood and employment opportunities in the country and abroad and provision of capability for on-line placement.
Educational benefits from the CeCs come from its capacity for electronic delivery of updated information which otherwise would remain unavailable due to limited library holdings and references. Undoubtedly, this significantly improves the quality and delivery of knowledge resources.
The 2003 WSIS Geneva Plan of Action of which the Philippines is a signatory states:
“Governments and other stakeholders, should establish multipurpose community public access points, providing affordable or free-of-charge access for their citizens to the various communication resources, notably the Internet. These access points, should to the extent possible, have sufficient capacity to provide assistance to users, in libraries, educational institutions, public administrations, post offices or other public places, with special emphasis on rural and
The place of CeCs as tools for development has been enshrined in The Medium Term Philippine Development Plan 2004 – 2010.
“The digital divide within the country will be reduced by establishing more public access points such as Community e-Centers for delivery of e-government and other services to provide universal access to information and communication services in unserved areas, link communities, facilitate trade and commerce, and empower rural communities socially, economically and politically.” Chapter 6, Item 5
The Philippine Strategic Roadmap for ICT Sector 2006-2010 emphasized:
“At the heart of the government’s effort to bridge the digital divide is the Community e-Center Program.
“Government will take all steps necessary to ensure that all citizens have access to ICT goods and services, and will, principally through Community e-Centers, provide the last mile bridge to these unserved areas.”
:: Guiding Principles
Participation. It is solely the participation of all CeC stakeholder groups that will ensure relevance, validity and credibility of the program. That being the case, stakeholder participation has been ensured in the planning process and should continue to be ensured
throughout the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the program.
The initial phase of the planning process starts with Sensing which includes a review of CeC experiences of other Asian countries.
With special attention given to experiential learning, these were inputted to a series of regional consultation workshops which advanced the following objectives: to map current CeC and CeCrelated activities undertaken by the consultation participants; to list experienced and anticipated issues and concerns and proposed strategies to address them; to solicit participant ideas on critical CeC support systems; and to identify major players in the CeC program and their ascribed roles.
The Formulating phase of the planning process starts with the strategic planning workshop and continues with the conduct of consultation meetings on the draft of the CeC Roadmap.
Inclusion. All stakeholder groups were engaged and will continue their engagement in the various phases of the crafting and implementation of the CeC Roadmap.
The participants represent the public and private sectors, civil society, interest groups and non-government organizations, the academe, local chief executives, CeC managers and representatives of the CeC management teams in the local government units, CeC
operations and management groups of the CICT–NCC FOO and the Telecommunications Office of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC), content providers and developers, capacity building providers, representatives of CeC-like ventures in other government agencies and in the private sector, as well as infrastructure and technology providers and CeC customers.
Focus on the unserved, underserved and vulnerable groups specially children, women, and senior citizens. The priorities for additional targeted CeC sites are the unserved and underserved municipalities.
On the ground, this will allow students in these areas, who otherwise are constrained by limited library resources, access to the unlimited and updated information in the World Wide Web.
Special attention in the advocacy towards social acceptability of CeCs will be addressed towards women and senior citizens. Relevant content, inclusive of user generated subject, will be developed having in mind its potential use for wealth creation and productivity,
enhancement of community spirit and engagement in development of otherwise marginalized individuals and groups.
Global perspective; Filipino in spirit. The Philippine CeC Program promotes openness to global knowledge, technology and networks to assure their adoption and use for optimum development of the country and the Filipino.
Respect and promotion of socio-cultural values and cultural diversity. CeCs will develop culturally-appropriate interventions in response to community information needs. This will require culturally sensitive attitude, skills and behaviors on the part of CeC knowledge workers.
“A Community eCenter in every municipality”
The Community eCenter is a self sustaining shared facility providing affordable access to ICT-enabled services and relevant content. It serves as a conduit for efficient delivery of government and other services and a potent tool for empowerment and participation of unserved and underserved communities in development.
To promote the development and to enhance productivity of unserved and underserved communities in the Philippines thereby improving quality of life through the provision of access, network and a stronger voice through use of affordable, appropriate, and critical ICT-enabled services.
In pursuit of the VISION and delivery of the MISSION, the goals of the Philippine CeC Program for 2008-2010 are:
:: Components of the Philippine CeC Program
In order to carry out the identified goals, four component areas of the Philippine CeC Program have been identified. These are: Infrastructure, Content Development, Capability Building and CeC Development and Management.
1 - Infrastructure
The Infrastructure component of the Philippine CeC Program will deliver the requisite connectivity to CeC sites. This includes both power and internet access for all municipalities. This component addresses the first goal-- to provide affordable and reliable Internet connectivity to all CeCs.
The strategies are:
1. “Quick wins” for Year One by identifying prospective CeC sites and matching telecommunications infrastructure up to the last mile and submission of match list to CICT for prioritization and guidance on CeC rollout;
2. Coordination with Department of Energy (DOE) electrification program to provide connectivity to remote CeCs and with TELCO expansion programs in consideration of the evolution of new technologies; and
3. Public-Private Sector Partnership in the provision of adequate infrastructure to the CeC program.
2 – Content Development
The Content Development component takes care of the second goal — to ensure the delivery of relevant content to CeCs.
This requires a three-tiered perspective: 1) mapping of and linking with existing content; 2) development of “new” content per content needs of target communities; and 3) building capability of CeCs to develop local content and uploading this in the Philippine CeC portal.
This perspective will produce three critical results: 1) access to existing knowledge and services; 2) provide collaboration opportunities across public and private sectors, local and global content providers; and 2) transform CeCs into knowledge-based enterprises through the generation, organization, facilitation of access to information that the community can leverage on in enhancing individual and community productivity.
The strategies are:
1. Content development and provision of access through the Philippine CeC Portal;
2. Partnership mechanism with content developers and providers in government and private sector, local and global; and
3. Development of templates for content development in interoperable platforms.
3 – Capability Building
The Capability Building component is imperative to the success of the Philippine CeC program. To a large extent, success in the delivery of goals and targets are due to the competence of the human resource who are currently involved in and who will eventually sustain the program. The component will guarantee delivery of the third goal – to ensure availability of competent CeC knowledge workers in the Philippines.
The identified strategies are:
1. Standardize capacity building programs for CeC knowledge workers through the institutionalization of the Philippine Community eCenter Academy (PCeCA);
2. Partnership strategies to institutionalize CeC plantilla positions; and
3. Development and adoption of competency standards for CeC workers.
4 – CeC Development and Management
The CeC Development and Management component supervises, coordinates and harmonizes the various players in the implementation of the Philippine CeC Program. The functions of managing the CeC program and developing CeCs along the strategic directions set are the accountability of a Program Management Office to be organized by the CICT. The component takes care of the fourth goal – to ensure effective and efficient management of the Philippine CeC Program.
The strategies it has to implement are:
1. Resource generation for the CeC Financing Program Network
2. Adoption of national standards in the management of CeCs;
3. Installation of support systems such as legal framework, national and local policies in support of the CeC program;
4. Promotion of the “CeC fever” for social acceptability for CeCs;
5. Application of economies of scale for efficiency in CeC operations;
6. Strengthening and activation of the Philippine CeC Network; and
7. Scaling CeCs in unserved and underserved municipalities including tapping Internet Cafes’ potential to transform into CeCs (Internet Café++).
:: Programmed Activities
The following are the programmed activities by component for the period 2008 to 2010:
1 - Infrastructure
|1. Identification of prospective CeC sites with available last mile connectivity||2008|
|2. Coordination with electrification program and with TELCOs for CeC rollout||2008-2010|
|3. Public-Private partnership||2008-2010|
2 - Content Development
|1. Collaboration on content development (industry-academe-government)||2008|
|2. Inventory of existing content||2008-2009|
|3. Development of content management system||2008-2009|
|4. Development of relevant content||2008-2010|
|5. Completion of PhilCeC Portal||2008|
3 - Capability Building
|1. Operationalization of the PhilCeC Academy||2008|
|2. Development of national competency standards for CeC personnel||2008|
|3. Development of courses||2008|
|4. Rollout of courses for CeC personnel||2009-2010|
|5. Adoption of CeC plantilla positions in local government units||2008-2010|
4 - CeC Development and Management
|1. Institutionalization of CeC PMO structure and Program Implementation Plan||2008|
|2. Adoption of CeC financing program||2008|
|3. Implementation of National CeC Communication Plan||2008-2010|
|4. Operationalization of PhilCeCNet||2008|
|5. Approval of CeC Policies and Guidelines||2008|
|6. Formulation of CeC Manual of Operations||2008|
|7. Organization of new CeCs including Internet Café++||2008-2010|
|8. Enhancement of existing CeCs||2008-2010|
|9. Institutionalization of CeC Award System||2009|
:: Major Players and Roles
The CICT is the lead agency in the Philippine CeC Program. As such, it administers and manages the program, provides overall supervision, ensures financing and coordinates resource mobilization and builds public-private-civil society collaboration in national and local levels in pursuit of program goals.
The Executive and Legislature’s role is to promulgate laws towards successful CeC scaling and to allocate the resources needed. Line agencies, GOCCs, GFIs can provide content to the CeCs and use CeCs as delivery channels for information and services.
The Energy Companies and TELCOs are accountable for power and connectivity for existing and potential CeCs under the regulation of DOE and DOTC NTC.
The Local Chief Executives and Heads of Schools are the CeC champions in their respective communities. They provide direction to individual CeCs, sustained access to resources and inspiration to the CeC workers.
The Content Providers and Developers ensure availability and access to relevant, up-dated content.
The Funding Agencies and Development Institutions, both local and international, can supplement the financial and technical resources that are available for CeC development.
The telecenter.org.–Philippine Community e-Center Academy is a consortium of ICT capability building institutions members which will collaborate towards the timely delivery of relevant, useful and good capacity building programs.
The Philippine CeC Network (PhilCeCNet) is a multi-sectoral partner of CICT in the implementation of the Philippine CeC Program. Its purpose is to support the implementation of the Philippine CeC Program.
The CeC Managers are to design individual CeCs as tools for development, mechanisms for network and voice of the communities.
Communities nurture the CeC through their sustained engagement in CeC activities and patronage of CeC facilities and services.
Media contributes to the advocacy and collaboration that will help create successful CeCs.