At IT for Change, individuals from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, professional expertise and skill sets work with a shared commitment towards progressive social change. Working across a multitude of settings whether in schools, institutions of governance, or the field, our team is constantly pushing the envelope with innovative ideas, leaving no stone unturned in our field projects, coalition building, consulting, research and advocacy projects.
IT for Change's sub-project in the 'Research for Open Educational Resources for Development (ROER4D)' project has made a valuable contribution in demonstrating the power of participatory processes for addressing teacher development. IT for Change action research provides a model for how professional learning communities can be leveraged to empower teachers, transform traditional pedagogical approaches and boost the OER agenda.
Prof Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams, University of Cape Town, South Africa
The focus of our work in education continues to be on demonstrating models of technology integration in teacher and school education and using this experience to provide inputs for curriculum design and development. During 2016-17, we were able to contribute towards building teacher networks, curriculum design and content development and also published our insights from our research and field projects.
|Students peer support in GHS Jayanagar 9th block|
IT for Change’s intensive pilot with 16 government high schools (GHS) in one block of the Bengaluru Urban district, with support from Cognizant Foundation, completed its third and final year in 2016-17. The work has been able to impact the content and pedagogical practices and processes, directly in the 6 schools that we worked in, and indirectly in other schools, through the 'block wide teachers community of learning' in Mathematics and Kannada.
During the year, we worked with GHS Domlur, GHS Ejipura and GHS Jayanagar 9th block on integrating ICT in mathematics teaching and with GHS Domlur, GHS Ejipura and GUHS Tank Garden for Kannada teaching. In GUHS Tank Garden Urdu medium school, our language program adopted a multi lingual work for language learning, using Urdu language spoken by students as a bridge to learn Kannada and English. We focused on digital literacy and language learning in GHS Yediyur and GHS Ejipura.
In Mathematics, the program expanded to include formative assessment of students, by recording the work of students, creating Geogebra materials in the ICT. We facilitated teachers to design assessments using Geogebra. Observing the processes followed by the students gives a more detailed picture of their understanding and learning, which is difficult in the traditional text based examination system.
A Kannada 'Nudi Sampada' (Literary festival) was organized in GHS Domlur, to celebrate language learning through prose and poetry recitations, quizzes, creative writing events. The aim was to strengthen the interest in language learning amongst students and provide space for broader language learning possibilities, beyond the text book.
The Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) for enabling easier school-parent communication, implemented in GHS Domlur during 2015-16, was a hit with the TCOL schools and many of them installed and used it to regularly broadcast message to parents on various school related events during the year.
|Ms. Gulzar Dambal receiving National ICT Award 2016|
The Government High School Thyamagondlu was part of the TCOL phase 1 (2011-13), and not Part of Phase 2 (2014-17), but its mathematics and science teachers have been part of the TCOL virtual community of teachers, sharing experiences, ideas and resources regularly to be part of the learning community. Ms Gulzar Dambal, Science teacher of Government High School Thyamagondlu, received the National Best Teacher Award for ICT integration, 2015-16, for her enormous contributions to integrating ICT in her teaching learning as well as in the professional development of her peers across the state, by sharing her creations on the state-wide forums.
The experiences over the 3 years of TCOL have been valuable to the teachers and to document the highlights of these experiences and learnings, a short video film was produced, consisting of footage of school and classroom processes, interviews with the teachers and students. The aim is to help other teachers and schools imagine possibilities of ICT integration in their work, and to support the ideas and learnings from TCOL to scale and sustain.
Even after the end of the TCOL project, the teachers are continuing their learning and peer support through the mobile phone communities, complementing their face to face interactions. The schools are expected to get new computers from the education department, under its 'Technology Assisted Learning Program' (TALP), in a phased manner, this would facilitate the continuity of the transaction using digital pedagogies.
Encouraging and enabling teachers to participate in academic conferences and presenting papers is an important part of their professional development journey. IT for Change collaborated with TCOL teachers to write papers for the National ICT Conference organized by the Regional Institute of Mysuru, which is the South India branch of NCERT, in February 2017. Ms. Radha Narve (GHS Begur) and Ranjani Ranganathan, IT for Change, presented a paper on “Learnings from using Geogebra to support mathematics teaching in government high schools”, based on the TCOL experiences. Mr. Rajesha Y.N. GHS Mallupura presented a paper on ICT and Assessment, Ms. Sucheta SS. and Gulzar Dambal, both GHS Thyamagondlu made poster presentations on ICT integration in Mathematics and Science education respectively.
|Telangana Maths MRP Workshop|
Over five years (2011-2016), the professional learning community approach for sustained teacher development was successfully implemented in Karnataka through the Subject Teacher Forum (STF) program, creating a network of over 20,000 teachers, across all core subject areas, for teacher professional development, supporting self learning, peer learning as well as sustainable creation of contextual Open Educational Resources. The Karnataka education department has taken forward the program of ICT integration in school education through the 'Technology Assisted Learning Program' (TALP), to extend technology literacy and technology enabled learning to all teachers of the state, following similar principles as the STF program - free and open technologies, participatory processes of resource creation and sharing as well as implementing the program with internal resources / teams. This is a testimony to the sustainability of the STF model of ICT Integration in school education.
During the year, the STF program in Telangana continued, with development of Mathematics and Science teachers as Master Resource Persons, who will conduct teacher capacity building programs across the state, to build their Subject Teacher Forums, with support from Kotak Mahindra Bank CSR. The department has created in-house ICT lab infrastructure in all its DIETs (District Institutes of Education and Training) and IASE (Institute of Advanced Studies in Education) and our training programs were conducted in the IASE lab. This was one of our strong recommendations to the department, and its implementation will lead to ability to conduct teacher capacity building programs throughout the year in a planned and sustainable manner.
IT for Change was invited by RMSA Assam to design and conduct a workshop for Mathematics teachers from Assam high schools to develop Master Resource Persons, during June. Since the technical capacities of the teachers and the department officials is quite low, ITfC also conducted a workshop of computer teachers, to develop the 'District Technology Support Groups' in the state, who can provide technological support to the mathematics teachers at the school level and for district training.
IT for Change collaborated with the Andhra Pradesh Department of School Education to design and conduct a training program for mathematics and science teachers in Vijayawada during October to develop Master Resource Persons for a Subject Teacher Forum kind of program. We also persuaded the department to change the copyright on its OER platform from the 'All rights reserved' to Creative Commons license, which allows for free re-use, sharing and modifications.
One of the important requirements of teachers is contextual teaching learning materials. Our experience in the Karnataka Open Educational Resources (KOER) program has suggested that the professional learning communities of teachers developed through the STF program can collaborate to access, create, revise, share and publish open educational resources (OER). Based on this experience, ITfC team supported the Telangana department to develop the TROER (Telangana Repository of Open Educational Resources) OER platform, using the MediaWiki free and open source content management system. ITfC also conducted two workshops to build capacities in a group of teachers and teacher educators, to publish OER on the TROER portal, the design of the portal was also collaboratively done in these workshops.
|Workshop with DIET Principals at RIE Mysuru|
ITfC facilitated a Brainstorming workshop on “ICT Integrated Teacher Education” for the Directors from the SCERTs of South India, which was organized by Commonwealth Educational Media Centre for Asia (CEMCA), along with Regional Institute of Education (RIE), Mysuru during April.
With the support of CEMCA, ITfC also designed and conducted a workshop for Karnataka DIET principals to help them understand ICT integration in their work for better planning and monitoring the programs of district level at RIE Mysuru. The DIET Principals learnt basic ICT skills related to their regular work, including an understanding of the importance of ICT for systematic management of DIET institution process, tour plans, annual plan preparations and academic supervision to develop teacher training plans effectively. Since the principals are the heads of the DIET institutions, developing their understanding of the benefits of ICT integration in education, can help elicit their support to schools and teachers.
IT for Change had the rare privilege of being invited by the education department of Telangana to help them develop the ICT student text book and teacher hand book for their higher primary and high schools. With support from CEMCA and Central Institute of Education and Technology (CIET), IT for Change conducted three workshops where we worked with a core group of teachers and teacher educators to develop the text book for higher primary section. This effort had a few ‘firsts’ - the first ICT text book that is developed on the NCERT ICT Curriculum, the first text book developed as ‘Open Educational Resource’ and the first text book where an NGO was given a primary role in developing an entire text book. The OER was consciously developed using available OER, especially images from the WikiCommons image OER repository.
IT for Change team members worked on the student source book and teacher hand book for the ‘ICT Mediation in teaching-learning’ paper of the new Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed.) program of the Directorate of Educational Research and Training (DSERT), which is aligned with the NCTE curriculum. The team developed the source and hand books for both the years of the program.
In our recent revision of our text books in line with National Curricular Framework 2005, we have been fortunate to get the support of the best individuals and institutions in our country, including Ekalavya, Vidya Bhawan Society apart from NCERT and other government institutions. When we decided to develop a text book on ICT, we requested the help of IT for Change, given its commendable work in integrating ICT to improve quality of education, adopting pedagogical perspectives.
Prof N. Upender, Pedagogy Coordinator SCERT Andhra Pradesh (retired)
IT for Change developed a toolkit to help teachers learn to use Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) authoring tools for OER creation, with support from the Commonwealth of Learning, Canada. The toolkit aims to fulfill a need to promote the creation, revision, publishing and adoption of OER across the world, by making available more freely available digital tools for people to use, to create, revise and publish OER.
Commonwealth of Learning (COL) works with strong and credible partners like IT for Change to promote open content and open educational practices
Dr. Ishan Abeywardena, Commonwealth of Learning
During the first phase of sub-project 5 of ROER4D research, we sought to study - “whether and how, a bottom-up approach, where Collaborative OER Adoption (COA) participants, 'embedded' in a 'professional learning community' (PLC) of teachers, collaboratively and actively co-create contextual resources, can support effective OER models.”
The second phase of the ROER4D project, “Scaling Open Education Resource Based Teacher Professional Development in India” explores research ideas, which emerged from the first phase research - studying the interactions of the PLC teachers to deepen understanding about OER adoption and the PLC-OER model, study the use of OER by these teachers and generalize and abstract elements of the PLC-OER model, through up-scaling the model in two other states in India to develop a tool-kit that can be used by other state governments.
We conducted a structured and unstructured analysis of the data from the mailing-lists, to derive some useful inputs to deepen our understanding of the PLC - COA interactions. These inputs will inform the tool-kit. An abstract of a paper on this analysis has been submitted to the National Conference on ICT in school education to be organized by the Regional Institute of Ajmer during November 2017.
Ranjani Ranganathan presented the findings from the first phase of the ROER4D research at the Open Education Global Conference in Cape Town during March. She also presented the key insights from this research at the UK-India Partnerships Forum program on Teaching and Technology in London.
During 2016-17, we made a conscious attempt to document our experiences and learnings from our field projects, curriculum development and research work, to write and present papers in different conferences on ICT and Education. Apart from the papers discussed earlier, these included:
The TCOL program has been able to demonstrate the strengthening of the ‘public institution’ identity among schools through collectivizing the teachers and head masters. Interacting through mobile based groups and email groups, the head masters and teachers are sharing information about their schools, celebrating best practices amongst schools, discussing their challenges and exploring new learning and teaching possibilities using ICTs. This sharing and learning is continuing beyond the project period. The TCOL program has developed a deep body of knowledge on how technology integration can be attempted in secondary education in a public education system encompassing various dimensions including classroom learning, teacher development, school information management as well as parent communication. While the TCOL program has demonstrated institutional capacity building at the school level. The larger teacher networks at the state level and the various local teacher collectives continue to be spaces where teachers are participating and engaging with new learning possibilities. IT for Change has taken the experiences and learnings from the STF and KOER programs to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Assam.
From our study of actual OER adoption processes by teachers, and up-scaling of the STF program to Telangana and other states, we are developing a ‘tool-kit for other states to plan similar programs. We will continue our work in Telangana to deepen and strengthen the Subject Teacher Forums and the TROER portal.
We also plan to deepen our school level demonstration project by extending it to the elementary school level as well as to government aided high schools in Bengaluru South district.
Offering certificate courses for teachers and teacher educators, can complement the 'workshop' model of the STF program, to support teacher professional development by building their technological-pedagogical-content knowledge. IT for Change plans to offer courses based on National ICT Curriculum of CIET, NCERT, for student teachers and teacher educators of the Bachelors in Education program offered by teacher’s colleges in Bengaluru.
Go back to Thematic Areas
I feel it is important for girls to be able to move around and travel freely. In a recent Kishori Gram Sabha meeting, I raised issues regarding safe mobility for girls and the need for improvement in public infrastructure. After the sabha (meeting) all the elders questioned whether how I could be so vocal in the meeting, and I told them that the sessions conducted by the Prakriye team have been very informative. After attending the trainings, I know that I have the freedom to express and the right to demand basic necessities
Shweta, Participant, Dhwanigalu Learning Dialogues.
A field resource center supporting grassroots organizations and local governance institutions in Mysuru, India. Using ICT-enabled strategies, Prakriye seeks to build insights on a radically new development praxis that brings power to the peripheries.
In the year 2016-17, Prakriye continued to focus on consolidating its decade-old information centers strategy. Prakriye’s seven ICT-enabled information centers in Hunsur and H.D.Kote blocks of Mysore, set up in partnership with grassroots women’s collectives, focus on addressing women’s marginalization from public information architectures and exclusion from social safety nets – using participatory video and mobile-based voice messaging for information outreach and supporting women in entitlement-applications. They have enabled collectives to build linkages with local institutions, catalyzing dialogues with elected women representatives, and integrating gender in local governance agenda. The day-to-day work at each center is carried out by a young woman infomediary from the community trained and mentored by the Prakriye team, and overall strategic direction is provided by a Managing Committee comprising members of women’s collectives, and in some cases, local ASHA and anganwadi workers, and elected women representatives from local government institutions.
We also initiated a new line of work – ICT-enabled learning dialogues for strengthening adolescent girls’ agency, leadership and empowerment.
With support from the South Asia Women’s Fund, we initiated learning dialogues with 85 marginalized adolescent girls at our information centers in Mullur and Attiguppe. As part of this project, we used photo voice and critical analysis of media artifacts to trigger a series of conversations with the 85 adolescent girl participants, on a range of topics – understanding gender roles; breaking gender stereotypes; and unpacking girls’ rights to mobility, participation in public life, and self-determination.
|Adolescent girls at the children's gram sabha|
We also entered into a partnership with the SRISHTI School of Art, Design and Technology, for exploring the development of creative learning resources such as story books on ‘choice and responsibility’ and a ‘rights-based perspective on menstruation’; a board game on decision-making; a card game on negotiating tricky situations at home and in the community; a simulation exercise on women in leadership and so on. In addition to training sessions, exposure visits to local public institutions and a seminar on women’s legal rights was organized for the girls. A children’s assembly was organized to provide a forum for girls to interact with their elected local government representatives, and express their needs and priorities using the language of citizenship. At the end of the project, a community exhibition was organized to showcase the digital stories and photo essays that the girls created through the course of the project, to articulate their perspectives on gender and governance issues, and their own dreams and aspirations.
The project participants acquired the self-confidence to articulate their perspectives and critical needs and concerns at the household and community level. The girls were even able to question the failure of the elected local government body in provisioning public infrastructure and basic amenities. This, predictably, resulted in a backlash and elected members expressed their displeasure at being challenged by the girls – but the Prakriye team was able to step in and effectively deal with the situation, and arguing the self confidence and civic leadership that the girls were demonstrating through their actions.
Further, girls have been able to negotiate gender social norms and assert their right to self-determination. Some girls have managed to postpone their marriage, and acquire the consent of family members to pursue their college education. Others have been able to question menstruation-related taboos. Most importantly, girls have gained the critical self-reflexivity to question oppressive gender and caste ideologies, and apply a rights-and-empowerment lens in analyzing community issues. The project has equipped the girls in taking the initial steps in their ‘education-for-empowerment’ journeys. More details of the impacts of the project can be accessed here.
The seven information centers have processed 359 entitlement applications, of which 272 have been successfully realized. Over 1400 community members were covered through the information outreach strategies of the centers, including village visits by the infomediaries and mobile-based voice messaging on public information updates, health and nutrition, gender and governance, sensitization about gender-based violence and so on. The monthly video newsletter Nodu Sakhi that features content for, and by, women, on community issues, was viewed by over 7500 community members in 40 villages in the operational area, through the community screenings organized by the Prakriye team.
|Nodu Sakhi video newsletter|
The centers closely collaborated with local government officials in implementing the Total Sanitation Campaign in both Hunsur and H.D.Kote blocks, and supporting local Primary Health Centres in running periodic health camps at the village level. Two centers were involved in participatory mapping of village level infrastructure for their local Gram Panchayat/ village self-government body, and in partnering with Primary Health Centres in organizing periodic health camps. Three Mahila Gram Sabhas/women-only village assemblies to provide a space for women to share their needs and priorities with local government authorities were conducted in Kattemalvadi, Attiguppe and Thondalu villages of Hunsur block.
A case study from the Attiguppe information center: Challenging cultural norms on gender
Nagamma, a daily wage laborer from Attiguppe village, lost her husband Jayarama Gowda to liver damage. The family was heavily in debt because of the loans they had taken for their daughter’s marriage. Before his death, Jayarama Gowda had joined the life insurance scheme of the government. Nagamma was thus eligible to receive an amount of 2,00,000 INR when her husband passed away. But she was extremely hesitant to process the insurance claim, despite the family’s dire financial need – because of a local cultural taboo that prevents a woman from going out in public within three months after the death of her husband. The infomediary was able to intervene and support Nagamma to claim her entitlement.
The relevance of the information centers of Prakriye demonstrates the role of public access ICT models that are designed and implemented to privilege the rights of the marginalised. The mainstream discourses and approaches on connectivity and access seem to discount institutional strengthening through local technology adoption processes, endorsing a simplistic narrative of mobile telephony. Today, the dominant informational and communicative environment poses many contradictions for democracy and people's rights. Also, the wider environment of livelihoods crisis, a regressive social context that inhibits the full participation of women and institutional capture by the political elite pose serious threats for progressive change. It is in this context that our role, in the vanguard of alternative techno-social models needs to be seen.
Go back to Thematic Areas
IT for Change is clearly a thought leader on women's digital rights, evidenced by their commitment to promoting meaningful digital access cultures that strengthen women’s active citizenship. We commend IT for Change's commitment to rigorous research and policy dialogue to strengthen the legal-institutional response to technology-mediated violence against women in India and in Bangladesh, and to promote online freedom for all. We look forward to our continued partnership through the Women’s Rights Online Network.
Nanjira Sambuli, Digital Equality Advocacy Manager, Web Foundation
In this era where the term 'technology' is often used loosely, and occasionally subjected to an uninformed understanding in research, academia, activism, and policy, the work of IT for Change has valuably improved the public discourse by building and disseminating a holistic understanding of the myriad faces of what goes into, and comes out of, technological change for development. I have gained significantly in my associations with ITfC both in my classroom as well as my research.
Dr. Anant Kamath, Assistant Professor, School of Development, Azim Premji University
Through our research, advocacy and network-building efforts on gender and ICTs, we offer a critical perspective on technology and gender relations.
With support from UNESCAP and UNPOG, we worked on developing an online toolkit on e-government for women’s empowerment and gender equality, for policymakers in the Asia Pacific. The toolkit comprises a set of 5 training modules that introduce the idea of e-government as a strategic public policy instrument for promoting gender equality, and a trainers’ handbook that explains how these modules can be adapted in capacity-building programs for officials from different sectors of government. The modules lay down critical design guidelines for building gender-inclusive e-service delivery, citizen uptake and connectivity architectures, and introduce monitoring and evaluation frameworks that can assess gender-based outcomes of e-government. The content of these modules and key learning messages are based on evidence from multi-country research study on gender and e-government in the Asia-Pacific that we carried out in partnership with UNESCAP, between 2015-16.
|Nirantar national digital literacy consultation|
The outline of the training modules was developed by IT for Change in early 2016, and finalized in consultation with policymakers, research scholars,and representatives from civil society organizations and multilateral institutions with in-depth expertise in the domain and familiarity with the regional context. An Expert Group Meeting was convened by UNESCAP and UNPOG in October 2016 to facilitate this detailed review of the structure, design and content of the training modules.
Currently, the first draft of the modules and the trainers’ handbook are under external review. The online toolkit will be launched in late 2017.
In January 2017, with support from the Web Foundation, IT for Change launched a policy research initiative on strengthening legal-institutional responses to technology-mediated violence against women in India and Bangladesh. The starting point of the project is that for women's full and free participation in online spaces, an equality-and-dignity based policy and legislative framework is an urgent imperative. Legal change is one important part of the various efforts for social change to make digital spaces a catalyst for women's well being.
At the start of the project, a policy roundtable was convened by IT for Change with leading feminist scholars, practitioners and women’s rights lawyers in India to collectively brainstorm on critical issues/challenges for addressing newly emerging forms of online violence against women, and identifying what it would take to hone a creative legal-institutional response to e-VAW that is grounded in a recognition of women’s right to informational privacy, bodily integrity and personal autonomy. The policy round table identified critical areas where our understanding needs to be sharpened – such as evolving a rights-based approach to intermediary liability and content regulation and the need for scoping the opportunities and challenges in using technology for content filtering / blocking / regulation.
To take forward these strands and generate a vibrant, interdisciplinary debate on this issue, we are convening a national seminar with the Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, in December 2017. The idea is to bring together academics and students from different disciplines, women’s rights organizations, feminist lawyers, activists working on gender and sexuality, disability, gender and media, and mental health professionals, for 2 days of intense discussions.
|Anita Gurumurthy at the Majlis Conference, Negotiating the Online|
We have also been working towards producing a body of knowledge on this issue. We have commissioned a set of think pieces to take forward the strands identified in the policy round table; and we have also been writing on different aspects of the issue. Our think pieces critically examine the evolving judicial discourse on content regulation, closely following the proceedings of the Prajwala PIL on the circulation of rape videos over Whatsapp, and the Sabu Mathew PIL on blocking pre-natal sex determination advertisements in search engines.
We have also entered into a partnership with Article 19, for the Bangladesh component of the project.
In February 2017, IT for Change and Azim Premji University (APU) organised a course titled The Gendered Digital in the Network Society, which was supported by the Genderlogues program of the India office of Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). Through a series of panels, lectures and activity based discussions, the course introduced participants to feminist perspectives on emerging debates at the intersections of digital technologies and development. The first day of the course started with a panel discussion on ‘A Feminist Lens on a Digital India’. The speakers were Bishakha Datta from Point of View, Usha Ramanathan, leading legal scholar, and Anita Gurumurthy from IT for Change.
The EGOV4WOMEN Online Toolkit testifes to our institutional capacity, not only to research cutting edge policy issues, but also produce resources to guide policies at a global level. The e-VAW study and the issue papers for the Association for Progressive Communications are important contributions to the debate foregrounding issues of gender and political economy, and deepening inquiry in directions that few organisations are working in. Our presence and participation in digital rights and traditional feminist forums and collaborations with academia indicate the place that we occupy as thought leaders in theoretical and policy work. Unpacking concepts such as Big Data, net neutrality, algorithmic decision making etc. from a feminist standpoint, we have been able to both demystify technical concepts and inform technological policy debates with critical feminist thinking.
Go back to Thematic Areas
This year we started working very closely with IT for Change on trade-related issues. It is great to have such a development-oriented expert group like IT for Change on our side to challenge corporate power and global neo-liberal trade agenda. IT for Change contributes a lot to be this debate in terms of expertise, vision and passion for development. We are looking forward to working with them and continue to challenge the global trade agenda.
Burcu Kilic, Legal Counsel, Public Citizen Global Access to Medicine Program
IT for Change has been at the forefront in demystifying the role of technology in a rapidly changing trade and investment landscape. This has helped social movements, labor unions and civil society organizations in better understanding the disruptive role of technology in the fight for economic, social and environmental justice.
Benny Kuruvilla, Researcher, Transnational Institute
In our engagement with Internet governance, we strive to democratize technologies and their control, and for this purpose, advocate appropriate global and national governance models. We are working to build a people’s movement in this area, for no serious shift of power can take place without a struggle by those who desire it.
IT for Change launched the project ‘Policy frameworks for digital platforms - Moving from openness to inclusion’ in early 2017. Through this two year, multi-country project with partners from the global South and North, we seek to build a strong empirical base of the state of play of the platform economy in the global South and analyze the institutional-legal context in this regard for informing policy debates. The project will develop frameworks to tackle inequality, promote inclusion and advance development justice. It is supported by International Development Research Centre, Canada.
Our paper Developing Countries in the Emerging Global Digital Order authored by Parminder Jeet Singh was presented to developing country delegates at the South Centre, an intergovernmental organization of developing countries located in Geneva. The paper unpacks the geo-economics of the digital age, examining the respective locations of developed and developing countries. Arguing that data and digital intelligence represent the center of new global value chains, it recommends that developing countries should seek new global institutions for Internet/ digital governance. It calls for South-South cooperation in the development of knowledge and policy analysis in this important area.
We then went on to publish an article based on this paper – “Digitalization and the gig economy: Implications for the developing world” – in Third World Resurgence, a magazine of the Third World Network.
As a civil society participant in the UN CSTD Working Group on Enhanced Cooperation, Parminder Jeet Singh made a submission elaborating upon the substantive meaning of “enhanced corporation” - a term introduced by the WSIS Outcome Document. The submission argues that enhanced cooperation is concerned with delineating the role of governments in developing international public policies pertaining to the Internet, based on the principle that all governments are on an equal footing. Thus, the enhanced cooperation agenda is not about the management of day-to-day technical operations of the Internet.
The meeting of the Working Group was focused on the need for a new institutional mechanism for developing global Internet policies. We strategized with other members on the best way forward in this regard, and organized meetings of developing country delegates at the South Centre on the issue.
Anita Gurumurthy, was nominated to speak at the Opening Session of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF 2016). In her address, Anita highlighted the un-freedoms on the Internet and the capture of lives in the webs of the datafied world. She submitted that a new global digital compact is imperative to address the growing inequality and alienation in a networked world.
|Anita Gurumurthy at the opening session of IGF, 2016|
Anita was also a panelist at the IGF 2016 Main Session, Connecting Human Rights - Emphasizing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for the Internet. She spoke of the imperative to move beyond the binary of the online and offline in our imaginary of rights and the need to re-calibrate rights to suit the digital age.
i. IT for Change coauthored a statement by eight national civil society organizations and two key global networks asserting that the Internet’s core resources should be global public goods. The statement critiques the dis-proportionate influence the US wields over ICANN because of its location in the US and suggests some alternatives that can rid ICANN of US jurisdictional controls, such as, incorporation of ICANN under international law, fragmenting core Internet operators among multiple jurisdictions, or granting immunity for ICANN under the United States International Organizations Immunities Act.
ii. As a part of the Just Net Coalition, we responded to the questionnaire put out by the Cross Community Working Group on Enhancing ICANN Accountability (Jurisdiction sub-group) where America’s extraordinary influence over the critical Internet resources was evidenced using available case-law. This submission also highlights how sanctions by the Office For Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) impact ICANN’s actions.
The Internet Social Forum, of which IT for Change is a founding member, developed the statement ‘Why the Future of the Internet Needs Social Justice Movements’. The statement calls for a greater engagement by social justice organizations, activists, and people's movements in different areas with those working in the area of progressive Internet and digital policies. Working together, we believe, is really important to reclaim the Internet so that it can truly be used to further social justice.
|Parminder Jeet Singh at Vivekananda International Foundation's 'Seminar on Internet Governance'|
Earlier, at the 2016 Internet Governance Forum, we had organized a meeting of civil society groups to explain to them about the Internet Social Forum initiative, and solicit their participation.
COHERE Conference on e-learning: Anita Gurumurthy was invited to deliver the keynote at the COHERE conference on e-learning, Yukon, Canada, in October 2016. She spoke about the urgent imperative to rethink the digital equity agenda, moving beyond an ‘access for all’ approach, with a specific focus on emerging forms of exclusion in the network society context.
Digital Citizen Summit 2016: Anita Gurumurthy was invited to speak at the Digital Citizen Summit 2016 organized by Friedrich Naumann Stiftung and Digital Empowerment Foundation, at a panel discussion on 'Access'. She spoke about the multiple axes of exclusion from access that policy architectures need to address.
We attended the seminar organized by Vivekananda International Foundation and the National Security Council Secretariat on Internet governance in India, on 25-26 April, 2017, in New Delhi. We were a part of two panels during the seminar - one on “Technology, Trade and Economy”, and another on “Multistakeholderism in Action”. Consolidated recommendations from all panels were forwarded to the concerned ministries of Government of India, whose representatives were present at the seminar.
i. In May 2016, TRAI put out a consultation paper on ‘Free Data’ where it proposed alternate models of the provision of free data that was TSP agnostic. Our response to the TRAI consultation was critical of suggestions made by the regulatory authority on provision of ‘free Internet’, which we felt effectively negated the spirit of net neutrality that the landmark Prohibition on Differential Pricing for Data Services Regulation, 2016, had just affirmed. Our response expressed support for the basic data entitlement of citizens on both mobile and wired networks, making the case for a universal data allowance.
ii. We submitted a response to the TRAI’s Pre-Consultation Paper on Net Neutrality. The paper advocates a positive, rights based approach to net neutrality that promotes economic and social justice as well as the democratic governance of the Internet.
iii. In response to TRAI’s consultation paper on net neutrality in January 2017, we reiterated the vision of a neutral Internet that is built on the foundations of human rights, equity and social justice. The privatization of the enforcement of net neutrality was strongly opposed.
Our response to TRAI’s pre-consultation paper on cloud computing in August 2016 urged the regulatory authority to take heed of digital transformation of various sectors and the central role cloud computing will play in the paradigmatic shift. The paper also touched upon issues of data sovereignty and its implementation through data localization.
We contributed to the shaping of the Internet governance debates through various articles in newspapers and journals. The public debate on net neutrality in India and zero service exemptions was a key locus of our media engagement at the national level, during this period.
At the national level, our inputs to the regulator's consultation and other writings had a significant impact in shaping a new discourse on net neutrality, based on positive rights, beyond Western paradigms focused almost exclusively on negative and consumer rights. The need for data allowances and exclusion of essential and public services from net neutrality prohibitions were recognized.
At the global level, we continued to contribute centrally to an alternative Internet governance discourse through the Just Net Coalition and Internet Social Forum initiatives. The single most important impact over the reporting year has been our successful engagement with the area of global digital trade, where dominant countries have sought to develop new trade rules, largely to resist regulation in this area, now or in the future. We have been able to help trade justice actors move beyond just reacting negatively, in resisting such trade rules agenda, towards development of clear conceptions of the nature of the digital economy, and what is in the interest of developing countries and marginalized communities in this regard. We will build on this foundation in the coming years.
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As MAVC’s Research, Evidence and Learning Coordinator based at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, I’ve worked with IT for Change throughout the Voice or Chatter project. I’ve been really impressed by their professionalism and critical edge as researchers in this young but important field. Everyone wanting to fund or implement ICT-based initiatives with a view to making governance more responsive and accountable, should read their research report.
Rosemary McGee, Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex
We are located in a small city in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon, and working in a global research project was a big challenge for us. Resources were limited, time crunch was a constant, and there were language difficulties.But the IT for Change team stood by our side, providing effective support to our work, and adding value to our research findings and ideas. Their professionalism is only matched by their passion for their work.
Cristian Berrio Zapata, Associate Professor, Federal University of Pará and Research Partner, Voice or Chatter?
At IT for Change, we believe that the many opportunities afforded by the digital can be realized for the empowerment of marginalized people when evolved in frameworks of equity and social and economic justice. This vision is at the core of our approach to development and democracy. In times of techno-mediated governance and development, IT for Change seeks to further the agenda of deepening democracy and equitable development. Our research and advocacy work argues the need for bringing citizen rights and the standpoints of the marginalized into digitally enabled governance and development discourses.
In 2016-17, IT for Change undertook a multi-country research study titled, Voice or chatter? Towards a structuration framework for ICT-mediated citizen engagement. This eight country research study, supported by the Making All Voices Count (MAVC) research consortium, mapped ICT-mediated citizen-participation in a range of political contexts of the global South (Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, India, Philippines, South Africa) and the global North (Netherlands and Spain). Through in-depth state of the art reports, case studies and research briefs that examined openness and transparency initiatives, networked municipalities, crowd-sourcing for urban planning, citizen petitioning processes and web-based grievance redress systems, this year-long project explored the shifts in norms, meanings and power relations in the institutional and ICT structures of democratic governance. A final synthesis report, ‘Voice or chatter? Making ICTs work for transformative citizen engagement’ was authored by IT for Change and published by the Institute of Development Studies along with a report summary.
IT for Change also engaged with a range of academic, research and learning spaces during the year including both international and national conferences as well as practitioner led learning workshops.
At the national level, IT for Change made a sustained effort through our research and advocacy tracks over the year to engage with the new digitalized governance paradigm in India, and understand its implications for inclusive citizenship and citizen rights. As part of this, we initiated the following activities in 2016-17;
In 2016-17, IT for Change continued to made important interventions in global policy spaces through consultative inputs and statements.These included;
Through its research and advocacy work in the Voice or Chatter project, IT for Change has made an important contribution to the body of knowledge on digital democracy and institutional/structures of change, generating widespread interest in the academic and practitioner community. At the national scale, we have made the first attempt to frame a comprehensive citizen centered policy framework on digital governance and democratic accountability through the charter. In 2017-18, we seek to take our progress with the charter on democratic accountability further, by taking it to a wider constituency of traditional development organizations, digital rights activists, academics and lawyers in the country and use it as a springboard for stepping up advocacy efforts to overcome new and emerging exclusions in Digital India. We will also further our engagement in domains of rising relevance including privacy and data protection through media articles and consultative interventions. In April 2017, IT for Change participated in several sessions at the People's Convention against FTAs and RCEP expressing concerns over the implications of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) for intellectual property rights, e-commerce liberalization, cross-border data flows and the rights of marginalized groups. In the coming year, IT for Change will escalate its advocacy against the free trade agreement through its digital justice project.
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