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Community Multimedia Centres Workshop in India: Yet Another Learning Experience

24-08-2004 (New Delhi)
Representatives from UNESCO supported Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) in South Asian countries including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka attended a workshop that UNESCO’s Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Communication and Information in New Delhi organized recently in Bangalore and Budikote.
“I had walked continuously for 2 days to cross 35 km mountainous terrain to reach the airport as all other roads were damaged due to heavy land-slide. I knew I had to join the CMC workshop in Bangalore. It was so important for me”, says Dorji Tshewang, a 32 years old FM Radio Networker from Trashigang in Eastern Bhutan, who was among the 35 participants who joined the workshop.

The workshop was designed in two sessions. The first part of the programme was held in Bangalore from the 8th-11th August 2004. It was focused to bring about the experiences on: local content creation (from Radio Namma Dhawani in Budikote), developing content CDs (from Datamation Seelampur site in New Delhi), producing weekly TV/Video programmes (from Tansen, Nepal), creating local information network and engaging women (from Nabanna, West Bengal), working with youth (from YPSA in Sitakund, Bangladesh), working with self-help women groups (from Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu), interacting with radio listeners groups (from Radio Lumbini, Nepal), developing knowledge societies and arranging community partnership (from UVA community radio, Sri Lanka), experiencing E-commerce (from Seelampur Mart in New Delhi) and discussing sustainability (from Darjeeling Himalayan Railway site, West Bengal). The objective of this session was to promote sharing, to learn what others are doing and to replicate if something is found to be relevant.

“It has been a great learning experience for me. I also found lots of potential of Community Radio in Seelampur area since not all the women are able to reach ICT center. Video and Radio cable casting was very fascinating since this was the first time I was exposed to live video and audio cable casting”, says Sarita Sharma from the Datamation Foundation site in Seelampur, Delhi.

In addition to that there were parallel sessions on setting up indicators to ethnographic research model that UNESCO has pioneered, writing news pieces for publications and testing eNRICH - a community support software that was developed by National Informatics Center (NIC) and supported by UNESCO. These parallel sessions continued until the end of the week and drew feedback and contribution from all the research participants.

The second half of the workshop was hosted by Radio Namma Dhwani in Budikote, a village 100 KM away from Bangalore that is known for cable casting programmes through its village network. The ambience and the reception were rousing and the participants were happy to be divided into two groups to use the limited space and resources of the centre. Lawrence English – an audio expert from Australia ran the special session on local audio content creation that ended in editing a live show at the centre. On the other hand, the NIC team worked to demonstrate the current version of eNRICH and sought feedback on the next version that is planned to be developed around open source tools.

By the end of the week, the participants looked confident and the faces still full with freshness. Many even questioned- when do we meet next? Probably they are going back with expectation to come back again with a basket of experiences, resources and the energy that they have generated among themselves and are ready to pass through their respective communities.

“In the future, I look forward to more sharing and exchange of information and research experiences. I would like to meet people who have done interesting, innovative things with technology in social context- more imaginative and not run off the mill practices”, says Ruchika Negi of Himalya Trust, a partner in Uttaranchal, India.

Time beckons, so sometime soon…..

(Material contributed by Partha Pratim Sarker, UNESCO Office in New Delhi)
Related themes/countries

      · Bhutan
      · News Archives - 2004
      · Bangladesh: News Archive 2004
      · India: News Archive 2004
      · Nepal: News Archive 2004
      · Sri Lanka: News Archive 2004
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