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Transforming the Digital Divide into Digital Opportunities for Rural Populations

26-10-2004 (Beijing)
Transforming the Digital Divide into Digital Opportunities for Rural Populations
Participants of the Conference
ICT are powerful tools to give voice to marginalized groups in rural areas when used appropriately. This was the main finding of the discussions of the more than 70 international experts who participated in a UNESCO sponsored conference on “Transforming the digital divide into digital opportunities for rural populations” in Baoding, China from 17 to 19 October 2004.
Looking in particular at the role of innovation and partnership building in rural education, the Conference provided a forum for critically investigating consequences of the digital divide on rural populations around the world Drawing on lessons and experiences learned from best practices, pilot projects and case studies of government strategies and policies, it explored possibilities of networking and the sharing of experiences among various agencies, universities, and research institutes

While income, gender, and educational level have been identified as important bases of the digital divide – mostly referred to as inequitable access to ICT both within and between nations - the participants of this conference were particularly concerned by the rural/urban divide. Rural people have systematically less access to ICT than do their urban counterparts. This gap may aggravate existing inequalities in education, income, and food security between rural and urban citizens.

This Conference was jointly organized by the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, the International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education (INRULED), the Food and Agriculture Organization and UNESCO. It was co-organized and co-sponsored by the Basic Education Department of Ministry of Education, China, and Information Center and Central Agricultural Broadcasting and Television School of Ministry of Agriculture, China.

The some 70 conference participants from more than 20 countries raised the following points as key issues to which governments, regional and international agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders should pay attention:

  • Rural education plays a crucial role in rural development

  • Rural primary education in developing countries must be universalized

  • Institutions for agricultural education must be supported

  • ICT must be carefully explored for their contributions to rural development

  • ICT offer many opportunities for rural development


  • Participants concluded that, when used appropriately, ICT are powerful tools to give voice to marginalized groups in rural areas including women, girls, youth, ethnic minorities, to increase access to formal, non-formal, informal education, whilst improving its quality and to help rural development through transferring agricultural technology and knowledge .
    Transforming the Digital Divide into Digital Opportunities for Rural Populations Participants of the Conference
    Related themes/countries

          · China: News Archives 2004
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