|Ensuring a Democratic Internet||
Gendering Information Society Realities
|IT for Change in the Media|
Ensuring a Democratic Internet
In response to an invitation by South Centre, a Geneva-based inter-governmental think-tank, IT for Change submitted a background paper and made a presentation to address developing country diplomats on global Internet-related policies and the appropriate institutional mechanisms for this purpose. The agenda of the meeting alongwith our contribution to the forum were focussed upon the one day special open meeting on 'Enhanced Cooperation on Public Policy Issues Pertaining to the Internet' being organised by the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development.
IT for Change participated at a discussion on 'enhanced cooperation' at the substantive session of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) held on 22 May 2012. Our standpoint at the forum, expressed through a speech suggested some conceptual clarifications and practical steps to move forward on the vexed issue of 'enhanced cooperation'. Along the same lines, in a previous special meeting, IT for Change gave another speech which dealt with the need to openly and throughly discuss the issue and implications of multistakeholderism in global Internet governance, focusing on what roles different stakeholders should play in this regard.
A remote video presentation was made by IT for Change at the annual conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in its 'Special session on Internet governance: Negotiating profit & politics with Internet freedom' that was held in Durban on 19th July, 2012. Our presentation focused upon the need for civil society groups to claim their legitimate space in the Internet governance domain.
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the global authority dealing with domain names, is hastening the threat of monopolisation on the Internet through its new scheme to sell generic words (like .beauty, .books, .search). Parminder Jeet Singh, Executive Director, IT for Change wrote an opinion piece in The Hindu, a leading Indian English newspaper daily about how ICANN is getting away with the problematic plan of putting up parts of our language up for privatisation. A day later, the daily published an editorial piece endorsing the same, which can be read here.
With support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), IT for Change made a film titled 'Transforming Teacher Education with Public Software' which discusses our approach to integrating ICTs into teacher education, focusing on building 'Teachers Communities of Learning' to create digital learning resources and network with one another for sharing and learning. The film consists of workshop footage and interviews with teachers and key actors of the programme and can be accessed here.
The Department of Technical Education, Government of Karnataka and the Public Software Centre, IT for Change organised a one day seminar on 'Public Software in Technical Education - Opportunities and Challenges' in Bengaluru on 30th October 2012. The seminar supported by the the Spoken Tutorial Project of the National Mission on Education through ICT (NMEICT), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India succeeded in bringing senior policy markers, government, researchers, and practitioners from technical education field and the industry to raise awareness about public software and its various positive applications. The seminar report can be accessed here.
The final research validation meeting of Gender and Citizenship in the Information Society – CITIGEN programme organised by IT for Change and supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) took place between 15-17 February 2012. The meeting culminated into an occasion for the network members – a loose group of researcher-activists and activist-researchers interested in examining the relationship between gender and the information society, of the CITIGEN project to take stock of the work done and to reflect upon the questions and concerns framing the research endeavour from the vantage point of women's participation and citizenship.
'The big deal about the network age' a think piece written by Anita Gurumurthy, Executive Director, IT for Change builds on the insights from the work of CITIGEN. It brings together the conversations among the network of involved feminists through July 2010 to February 2012, to posit some key points of departure in feminist analyses, which could form tentative steps towards a feminist theory of change.
Titled 'Making local governance work for women – Exploring new institutional possibilities', women-gov is a new feminist action-research project undertaken by IT for Change with support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The project aims at enhancing marginalised women's active citizenship and their engagement with local governance, across three sites in India, Brazil and South Africa. The project focuses on developing contextual models that harness the potential of digital technologies, for gendering local governance structures and bringing gender politics into local public spheres.
IT for Change's research study on 'Exploring an institutional model for Samudaya Jnana Kendras (Community Knowledge Centres)' explored the possibility of setting up state-initiated, community knowledge centres (Samudaya Jnana Kendras) in various rural locations across the state of Karnataka. The report ascertained that a crucial design element for effective community knowledge centres is to ensure local autonomy in their functioning, with resource support and guidance from a dedicated state agency, along with clear local as well as upward accountability mechanisms. The report was accepted by the Commission and was soon recommended to the Karnataka state government to set up Samudaya Jnana Kendras (community knowledge centres) in the state, identifying the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj as the nodal agency for the project.
Subject teacher forum is an in-service teacher training programme undertaken by IT for Change for high school teachers in ICT Phase I and Phase II schools with the vision of STF-trained teachers being better prepared to integrate ICTs into the classroom thereby enabling them to engage in a more constructive teaching-learning processes. In its second year, STF has successfully managed to begin district level training in 19 districts in Karnataka from September 25th 2012, a positive extention to the 15 districts that were covered in 2011-2012. STF endeavours to begin training for english teachers as well alongwith the existing training for mathematics, science and social sciences. The program has been extended to cover english teachers and a similar programme with higher primary school mathematics teachers has begun under the CAL programme of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
ICT tools, when used effectively in schools, gives opportunities for the teachers to self-learn and build on their subject knowledge. Eventually it provides the students a new context for engaging with each of these subjects. Bindu Thirumalai, Programme Associate, IT for Change, in her piece in The Hindu, explains how innovations in technology have helped educators explore possibilities of using simulations for science and graphic calculators for mathematics, to bring alive and animate certain phenomenon or concepts.
Digital platforms and tools can support widespread construction of learning resources. Since digital resources are ‘non-rivalrous', meaning sharing does not reduce their availability, teachers at a systemic level can locally create learning resources and share them across the country to create a resource-rich learning environment. However, Apple's proprietary apps control knowledge creation, sharing. Gurumurthy Kasinathan, Director, IT for Change, wrote an opinion piece for The Hindu, stating that it is essential that the curriculum and teaching-learning processes are guided by public interest and priorities and not locked into the commercial ambitions of private technology companies.
In the run up to the UN CSTD meeting in Geneva in May 2012, IT for Change ran a campaign for 'democratising global Internet governance', supported by over 67 civil society organisations and many more individuals, from across the world. To this effect, Parminder Jeet Singh, Executive Director, IT for Change, wrote an opinion article in The Hindu, before the important meeting in Geneva. The article talks of the various issues and misconceptions around the India proposal for the meeting while simultaneously addressing the manner in which these economic and political powers are coming together in a new digital-political complex, presenting itself as a principal global challenge in the near future.
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