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IT for Change Newsletter, March 2016

Our take on TRAI's historic decision

Following TRAI's historic ruling that prohibits the discriminatory tariffs for data services, our executive director, Parminder Jeet Singh, in this op-ed in the Deccan Herald, discusses how TRAI has asserted its regulatory control over the internet by ensuring data services are not discriminated based on content and are provided as regulated public utility. Going beyond rulings in the EU and the US, where they have left differential pricing for ex-ante consideration, TRAI held that banning differential pricing was especially important in the Indian context, with its huge unconnected population, to not allow telcos to shape the user's internet experience, either directly or indirectly.

Read the full article here.


Free Basics: A wrong turn on the road to women's empowerment?

The WWW Foundation, in partnership with Sida, conducted a 10-country research study across Asia, Africa and Latin America to explore the potential of the Internet for the empowerment of urban poor women. IT for Change was the country partner for the India component of the project. In early 2015, we coordinated a survey in New Delhi to understand patterns of Internet use of 770 women and 265 men in the urban poor neighborhoods. The research shows how market mechanisms are enabling new generation users, particularly women, to become 'connected' through smart phones and the mobile Internet. However, the ostensible narrowing of the gender gap does not mean that accessing the Internet is necessarily 'empowering' for women.

The entirety of the access experience needs to be understood to address the gender gap. The study found that nearly all women who had accessed the Internet were using Face Book.  But 51% of women FB users have never followed a link outside. Based on these observations, it seems that the Internet experience, for many women users, is largely the social media platform's walled garden. While Facebook and similar sites functioned as spaces to connect with friends and family, this did not lead to increased networks of support – only 3% of male and 1% of female users reported that social media was helpful in forging such networks. The Internet experience also remains a passive one for most users, with only 17% of female and 28% male Internet users reporting that they actively seek information online. The access experience here is not reflective of the Internet’s full transformative potential. Unless the Internet is embedded in opportunities that can bring real choice to the marginalised, especially poor women, it cannot succeed as a tool for empowerment.

To read the report, click here.


Teachers' Professional Learning Communities being established in Telangana and Assam


The 'Subject Teacher Forum' program of Karnataka education department has  created 'professional learning communities' of Government High School teachers, who are using digital technologies for collaborative learning and creation of open educational resources (OERs) in mathematics, science and social science. The OERs created are available on 'Karnataka Open Educational resources' (KOER) web portal.

Thanks to the success of the 'Subject Teacher Forum' program, the Telangana and Assam education departments invited ITfC to partner with them to create professional learning communities in their states. During February, IT for Change designed and conducted workshops for Assam mathematics teachers. Though most of the teachers had no prior computer experience, in the second workshop, many mathematics teachers came to the workshop with their own laptops, some newly purchased! The Assamese teachers are also keen to create OERs in Assamese language, similar to KOER.

In Telangana, the mathematics and science teachers trained by ITfC are now preparing to conduct trainings of their colleagues in all ten districts of the state, this will create a community of around 10,000 mathematics and science government school teachers in the state. The Telangana teachers have also created OERs in mathematics, science and social science which the department plans to host on-line.

Assam, 3rd February '16: Mr. Bilal Hussain working on his new laptop. He had never used a computer before this training. He purchased a new laptop for Rs. 25,500.

What Free Basics did not intend to do (Jan 14, The Hindu)

Bright ideas at science expo for govt. school students (Feb 10, Deccan Herald)

Easier to learn from fellow students (Feb 11, The Hindu)

Govt. school installs IVRS for parents to keep tabs on children (Feb 23, The Hindu)

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