Getting better all the time
March 26, 2006 § Leave a comment
Paris, France – March 23 + 24, 2006
Half dreaming and half reflecting on my recent meetings at UNESCO, the refrain from a Beatles song pops into my head: I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, getting better all the time.
It was clear from the beginning that collaboration between telecentre.org and UNESCO’s community multimedia centre program could benefit telecentres. UNESCO is focusing on front line community media access. telecentre.org is working on back stopping, support and training issues. And, the two programs are often working in the same countries (e.g. Mozambique and Mali). Despite these synergies, early conversations with UNESCO were slow.
Things sped up dramatically this week during meetings with Ian Pringle, who is now guiding the CMC program on a consulting basis. Ian has spent the past four years doing hands on work with a variety of UNESCO telecentre programs in South Asia. In this work, he demonstrated a broad and creative approach – he and his colleagues focused on the ‘telecentre as local info production hub’ without being confined by the specifics of the CMC model. This shows in the early thinking on his new gig in Paris, which includes work with all UNESCO community access centre projects, and not just the CMC program.
I also met with UNESCO Communications Division Director Wijayananda Jayaweera, UNESCO program officer Ilda Mara and Microsoft MEA community affairs manager Heba Ramzy. Jaya set the tone, coming up with idea after idea that showed a keen interest in building collaboration. Heba also played a key role, showing us all the links between work that Microsoft and UNESCO are already doing together, and possible UNESCO / telecentre.org links (e.g. e-government).
Leaving our meeting, we all had a long list of concrete ideas on for early stage collaboration. A few of these ideas included:
- Closer collaboration on the development of wide reaching telecentre networks and training programs in Mali and Mozambique
- Cooperation around developing, improving and distributing curriculum for telecentres, including the Microsoft’s UP and the iTrainOnline Multimedia Toolkit.
- Offering existing UNESCO training materials like the ’10 steps to telecentre sustainability’ guide as inputs for processes like the Mission 2007 training commons.
- Creating an inventory of existing ‘services’ offered in telecentres, and then feeding this into a process of documenting services so others can replicate.
Of course, we left with more than just ideas. We also left the meeting with a sense of common cause and direction. I knew this when Jayaweera opened the recently published From the ground up book, pointing to the wikipedia definition of a telecentre and saying to his colleagues: “See, it includes community multimedia centres.” Indeed it does.