Towards a Framework for Planning and Designing of Rural Knowledge Centres

Dileepkumar, Guntuku
Holz-Clause, Mary
Sai, Kuna A
Chaudhary, Sanjay
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Exponential growth in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) [1] and establishment of telecentres have been fast spreading across the globe [2]. Telecentres equipped with ICTs have become new ways of reaching the people and delivering services in the developing countries [3]. In the continuous process, these centres have been acknowledged as new institutions in the global rural milieu, to empower the rural communities by bringing the benefits of contemporary ICTs in their reach such as e-governance, telemedicine, digital literacy, e-agriculture. The last decade many organizations have launched such initiatives, known as ICT for Development (ICT4D) projects, in the rural areas of developing countries, with an aim to bridge the digital divide by providing access to information and technologies; and also for poverty alleviation, policy advocacy, local governance, and education development [4]. Today there are tens of thousands of telecentres throughout the world [5]. These are the places or centres that provide shared public access to information and communication technologies for meeting the educational, social, personal, economic, and entertainment needs of the community [3], [6], [7], [8]. // As most of these initiatives are relatively new, there are mixed opinions available from the literature on their social and economic impacts in the communities where they are situated. For instance, the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development (UNCSTD) reported, there are many instances where ICTs are making no difference to the lives of people in developing countries (or) even having harmful effects" [9]. Furthermore, emerging studies have shown many of the claims being made about the potential of ICTs for development are not supported, and point to possible counter-productive effects [3]. There is also lack of good understanding about a sound conceptual and theoretical framework for planning and designing telecentres. This study seeks to fill this information gap by assessing selected telecentres project sites in rural India, to understand various dimensions and dynamics involved in planning and designing telecentres.
Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Rural Communities, Community Development