Philippine CeC Roadmap 2008-2010
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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.