Organized by UNESCO, the Ministry of Information and the Media of the Government of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation in association with the Kothmale Internet Project of Kothmale Community Radio.
This meeting presents a unique opportunity for the first international pooling of project experience in an innovative area which many believe offers the "missing link" in efforts to eradicate poverty: the harnessing of new information and communication technologies together with community media (especially radio) for community development and empowerment. On this occasion, UNESCO will launch its new programme for Community Multimedia Centres, which combine community broadcasting with NICTs.
This two-part meeting is organized as follows:
- In a four-day workshop from 22-25 January, some 20 managers and project co-ordinators from community radios and telecentres in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean will discuss case studies and models, exchange experiences, views, strategies and techniques for the successful integration of the full spectrum of communication and information technologies at community level.
- At the two-day round-table meeting on 26-27 January, international partners including national development agencies and international governmental and non-governmental organizations, will engage the project managers in discussions on models of best practice, partnership strategies and programme development. From this process will be drawn a set of project models and guidelines for ensuring full community appropriation of NICTs, offering strategies for sustainability, networking and technical support systems that development workers in this field can draw on and apply in project development.
This meeting comes within the framework of the Global Knowledge Partnership's Action Plan, for which UNESCO was asked to take the "champion" role for Action Item 1.3. The GKP approach emphasises coalitions for development and many GKP partners will be present in Kotmale.
The Kothmale meeting is particularly timely, as the GKP is to undertake the consultative process on the information and communication issues under consideration by the G-8's Digital Opportunities Taskforce (DOT.force). The meeting will contribute to the global dialogue on 'bridging the digital divide', as emphasised in the Okinawa Charter, through its efforts to:
"Actively facilitate discussions with developing countries, international organizations and other stakeholders to promote international co-operation with a view to fostering policy, regulatory and network readiness; improving connectivity, increasing access and lowering cost; building human capacity; and encouraging participation in global e-commerce networks"
This meeting aims to encourage public authorities and the international community to harness their efforts to bridge the digital divide at community level through solidarity and cooperation which supports:
- the development and use of the full range of ICTs appropriate for grass-roots use, especially linking community radio and the Internet
- the production, translation and sharing of content and development-oriented applications
- the implementation of pilot projects corresponding to different cultural and development situations
- the inventorying, evaluation and exchange of experience at the national and international levels
- appropriate national policies and environments to encourage community action and cooperation, on the basis of successful models.
Due to the strong interest shown world-wide in Radio Kothmale's use of the Internet with community broadcasting, its pioneering "radio-browsing" programmes and its multimedia community database for development, this event is being held within a development project environment, at a conference facility near the village of Kothmale itself.