'İnternetle Hayat Kolay' projesi lansmanı basın toplantısı


Opening Remarks

Kamal Malhotra
United Nations Resident Coordinator, Turkey
Resident Representative, UNDP Turkey

Mr. Orkun Kaya, CEO of TTNET,
Mr. Sezai Hazir, the President of Habitat Association,
Distinguished representatives of media,
Distinguished Volunteers,
Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Information and communication technologies (ICT) are transforming the global economy and creating new networks that cross cultures as well as great distances. But access to and the use of these technologies remains extremely uneven.

This disparity — the so-called “digital divide” — is, in large part, a reflection of deeper social and economic inequalities both between and within countries.

While aiming at facilitating universal access to ICTs for all citizens, there is a need for us to focus on developing human capacities. This is needed to respond in an effective manner to rapid technological progress.

Technology is practically worthless unless people are equipped with the know-how, and the willingness, to use it. Those who cannot use it confidently will become increasingly marginalized in the modern world.

However this development challenge should not be perceived as the challenge for developing countries only. It is evident that most industrialized countries are also struggling with a widening gap between groups at different educational and income levels.

This raises fears that entire segments of society may be excluded because of their inability to use ICT.

The dramatic increase in Internet access in the world unfortunately also simultaneously increases the digital disparity between the richest and the poorest and the most vulnerable segments of society.

Below the surface of the apparent widening and narrowing of ICT divides lies the underlying trend that privileged groups are consistently able to acquire and use technology more effectively.

Because this technology benefits them in an exponential way, they become even more privileged and the divide becomes exponentially larger and harder to bridge.

Digital literacy is worthwhile not only for its own sake; it can also contribute to overcoming severe structural weaknesses within society.

The flexibility and versatility of ICT learning may transform the situation of unskilled and not so well educated citizens by offering them new tools and opportunities. ICT has a multiplier effect on all sectors of the economy and society.

Familiarity and competence with ICT will provide an entry into digital life for those who were previously excluded. It may draw more of the population into the decision-making of the democratic process, thereby making for a more inclusive society which is more at ease with itself.

For many, ICT becomes the key to lifelong learning. And, once the habits of lifelong learning are in place in most segments of society, a learning society emerges and learning becomes the key to capitalizing on the huge potential benefits of ICT.

Even though the technology is increasingly available in Turkey, many people do not use it effectively because, they do not know how to use it, they are uncomfortable using it, they cannot afford it, or they cannot see its utility.

The existence of tools and equipment, the availability of affordable Internet cafes all around the country or information content do not necessarily result in effective use of ICTs. 

I am reliably informed that there are only a few successful examples in Turkey where the Internet and advanced communication technologies have been effectively utilized for advocacy and public action.

The main reason for this is the lack of opportunities for disadvantaged citizens to enhance or build their IT skills. This deficiency results in limited opportunities for citizens to: participate in decision making, network with each other and build skills for better access to job opportunities.

Citizens over 35 years old are more vulnerable in the digital world with even more limited opportunities.

Due to this urgent need, it is incumbent on all of us today to support an environment in Turkey that will allow for ICT to positively support both Turkey’s development and democratization agendas.

This will be necessary in the context of an open, inclusive information society that gives the excluded an unprecedented opportunity to become active participants in economic and political life.

With this project, we are aiming to both supplement and complement existing efforts to bridge the digital divide by strengthening the ICT use capacities of citizens over 35 years of age.

The project is based on voluntary training model where trained young voluntary trainers provide training to thousands of people in their cities.

We are focusing on the 20 least developed cities of Turkey.

We are emphasizing training of women.

Already in the initiation phase more than 1.000 people benefited from such voluntary trainings and with the launch of the larger project today many more thousands of people should benefit from this opportunity.

Let me convey my thanks to the Habitat Association for Development and Governance and TTNET for their close partnership with us at UNDP in successfully completing the initiation phase as well as for their commitment to the larger project we are here to launch today.

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