The youth work for e-transformation

01 Aug 2010

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Living in the southeastern city of Şırnak where terror, inequality and poverty is abound, 22 year old Sibel has given computer classes to over 50 people, most of whom are women during the past 3 years.

New Horizons - As if being a woman in the southeast isn’t hard enough Sibel says, her biggest challenge as a volunteer computer instructor at the Şırnak General Directorate of Culture and Tourism is the lack of support from local authorities.

Following a 29 hour trip, Sibel said she was lucky enough that her parents gave her permission to attend the Instructor Coordination Meeting in Ankara on 14-16 July 2010 held within the scope of the Empowerment of Youth for the E-Transformation of Turkey project. At the three-day meeting, Sibel not only soaked up the new developments in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) but also got the chance to share her experiences with 160 instructors who also attended the meeting from 63 cities across Turkey.

Volunteering to provide computer education to over 100 thousand people in 71 cities in Turkey, hundreds of young women and men like Sibel are taking a leading role in the transformation of Turkey into an information society. The Information Society Department under the State Planning Organization is coordinating this project and is a partner in the project. Department Head Emin Sadık Aydın stressed that information technologies, which make life easier in many ways, must not only become a key factor in the country’s economic and social development but also that finding ways to make ICT an efficient tool in the delivery of services in both the public and private sectors are crucial for Turkey’s e-transformation. Aydın also mentioned that the SPO will adopt an innovative approach in developing the new Information Society Strategy.

Cemal Akyel, the Vice President of Microsoft Turkey, said that “transformation” must take precedence over the “e” with regards to the many dimension of the concept of e-transformation. With information technologies, institutions and companies can increase their efficiency and transparency as well as personal awareness to contribute to e-transformation. Akyel also expressed a need for current legislations and regulations to adapt to the e-transformation process and contribute to participatory governance.

During the meeting, a protocol was signed with the Ankara Chamber of Internet Cafés to ensure that computer literacy classes can reach more young people. The protocol supported by the SPO, Microsoft, and UNDP and run by the Habitat for Youth Association, will expand the scope of Empowerment for Youth for the E-transformation project will be implemented in İstanbul, Ankara, İzmir and Sivas. Indicating that the newly signed protocol is the beginning of an important opening, the President of the Ankara Chamber of Internet Cafés Önder Kaplan said “Internet cafés, which provide the benefits of the Internet to consumers through desirable conditions, are among important venues where people and especially the youth find the opportunity to socialize. Though over 15 thousand Internet Cafés across Turkey have a significant potential in shaping the society’s future, as the Turkish community, we do not know how to use the internet or computer applications appropriately. The main reason I see behind this is the lack of education”. With the Empowerment of Youth for the E-transformation project, internet cafés will become classes for technology and provide people - even in the most remote areas of Turkey - with access to the Internet and technology by creating an enabling environment for everyone to come together, socialize and learn.

With 813 volunteers, the Empowerment of Youth for the E-Transformation of Turkey project has contributed to making over 87 thousand young women and men computer literate and has partnered with local administrations in establishing Habitat IT Academies in 12 cities. The project which aims to make young women and men more active in e-governance in Turkey is run jointly by UNDP, the State Planning Organization, Youth for Habitat Association and Microsoft. Other ICT cooperation projects in Turkey include the Youth Movement in Informatics project run by UNDP, Youth for Habitat Association, CISCO, Istanbul Technical University and Turkey Informatics Foundation (TBV) and Bridging the Digital Divide project, again run by UNDP, Youth for Habitat Association and Vodafone Turkey foundation which aims to teach computers to 1 million people.