5.6 Awareness raising of targeted population and capacity building

One key to realizing the optimal benefits of Internet-connected schools is educating not only the administrators, teachers and students who use the technology, but also reaching out to those who do not. The education of target populations should go beyond instruction in how to operate and interact with Internet-enabled resources. There should also be a more general effort to raise awareness of the educational and societal benefits of ICTs.

In particular, policymakers and educators should implement measures to increase awareness and adoption among the “offline” population by demonstrating the ways broadband applications and services can be applied to their particular needs. These might include e-government services, research to improve agricultural production, or improved and less-expensive communication with distant relatives. In much the way that teachers and students can incorporate broadband-enabled applications and services into their curricula, the community at large can apply online information and resources to their own needs once they understand the available opportunities.

In addition, the target populations can be engaged to learn the skills that enable them to maintain and repair computers and network equipment. Beyond the microeconomic impact of training individuals who could obtain paid positions providing technical support, a local base of support staff enables communities to be less-reliant on outside expertise, whether from a government, operator, vendor or NGO. Local solutions enable community broadband access points to be self-sustaining, reducing the likelihood that equipment and connectivity will be lost if a key component fails.

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