In South Africa Multi-purpose Community Centres (MPCCs), community based, run and owned communication and information centres, are viewed as one of the main vehicle for proving universal access to the parts of the South African population living in remote and disadvantaged areas. The MPCC model was originally promoted by the Department of Communication, which laid considerable emphasis on developing a range of technical solutions that could be rolled out on a larger scale. The last couple of years have however seen other government agencies and civil society joining in and broaden the perspective of the MPCCs from an advanced telephone shop to a dynamic community centre.
South Africa’s Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS) resides within the office of the presidency and coordinates information from all South African ministries. The GCIS is today actively using and developing the MPCC model as a platform to serve needing communities with government information and services. The GCIS is coordinating a cross-sectoral group of government officials, researchers and MPCC practitioners that are seeking to develop the original MPCC concept into a 1-stop shop community communication and information.
This UNESCO project will, in close cooperation with the South African Government and civil society, contribute to the national aim of establishing a 1-Stop Shop for the community information and communication. However UNESCO project will apply a bottom-up approach that will empower the communities themselves to contribute to the 1-Stop Shop with their own content. The UNESCO project will initially address the area of lifelong learning for community development, which at present is not covered by the government’s initiatives.
The mobilization mission
An interdisciplinary team composed of Ushio Miura, Peter T. Schioeler, and Elke Zimprich Mazive, undertook the project mobilization mission to South Africa from 13 to 21 March 2002.
The mission aimed to create the conditions and acquire the insights required to refine the planning of the South African part of the project activities and launch the project in South Africa effectively. More specifically the goals were to:
establish cooperation with local counterparts;
identify and establish a local project team, with a well defined communication structure;
develop a common understanding, between the local team and the UNESCO team, on the project content and approach;
preliminarily assess the proposed community (i.e. Alexandra Township, near Johannesburg);