ICT4D Regional Consultation Workshop, Kathmandu, Nepal
- A three-day South Asian regional consultation workshop on information technology for development entitled Facilitating Networking, Knowledge Sharing and Learning on I-C-T-4-D in South Asia ended yesterday in Kathmandu. Around 35 participants from Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the workshop.The participants are representing various media organizations, government agencies, civil society organizations, I-NGOs, and NGOs. The objective of the workshop was to facilitate information communications technology driven empowerment of the marginalized people at the local level in development in South Asian countries to mainstream their local perspectives and voices to facilitate networking, knowledge sharing, and learning on information communication technology for development at the national, regional and global levels.Inaugurating the workshop, Dr. Saroj Devkota, Vice Chairman, High Level Commission on Information Technology - Nepal, emphasised that the information technology sector has to play a major role in making the collective vision of a new Nepal possible and overcoming the current historic political change. He also said it is high time one has to move away from business-as-usual to a more people demand plan and the innovations of information technology is making thing much simpler in reaching just that.Dr. Devkota added that Nepal is currently making some progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (M-D-G) by the year 2015 and that Nepal was also working to link the M-D-G with the three-year development plan as well as the 10th Plan.Welcoming all the participants, A. S. Panneerselvan, Executive Director of Panos South Asia, said that the technology has indeed brought down the prices of information communications but it still has to reach much of the poor and the marginalized. He added that the term Information Communication for Development (ICT4D) is a policy concern to any social administrator and hoped that the workshop would result in concrete deliberations in meeting all that.In his keynote address, Kunda Dixit, Editor-in-Chief of Nepali Times, said the key challenges of information communications technology today are speed and content quality. Though knowledge has always been valued by societies, realizing that information is power, he said the peripheries of the South Asian countries were too far beyond the reach of information technology. Even in places where the reach is high, information technology has been plagued by information overload and is keeping people wider apart rather than bringing them together. However, the internet technology still does have a dynamic content and has become like a tiger that will eat one up if one does not ride it. Mr. Dixit added that journalism today is no longer in the control of journalists and has gone beyond to citizens who are developing totally new content and can openly express their opinions on news via web portals or blog sites.Kishor Pradhan, Country Representative Panos South Asia Kathmandu Regional Office, said Panos has learnt from its experiences that there was need for the media to work more with civil society organizations. He added the N-G-Os also need to be harnessed with the knowledge to use the media to bring out the voices of the poor and the marginalized and the current workshop has tried to collaborate the media and civil society organizations to use information communications technology to bring about positive change.He added Panos South Asia organized at least four regional training workshops each on Online Journalism and T-V and Digital Technology between 2004-2006 that promoted in building opportunities and development communication. He also said Panos has supported online initiatives like voices of the south, Unnayan News, and Grassroots Options to enhance online development news content.The event is being organized by Panos South Asia with support from the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC).Panos South Asia with its regional headquarters in Kathmandu is a part of the family of Panos Institute worldwide that encourages and facilitates public discourse on a wide range of issues particularly those that have direct impact on least privileged and most marginalized sections of the society. Panos works though media to bring neglected subjects to the fore in development debate, so as to give a platform for voices and perspective, which are often rendered voiceless in the public sphere.
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