ICT training for disadvantaged populations: The importance of tailoring to the local context
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This study describes the efforts of NGOs around the world to bring the benefits of new technologies to disadvantaged communities through their ICT training programs. It asks how NGOs design ICT training programs to meet diverse populations and socio-economic conditions. Researchers interviewed 25 NGO representatives and instructors from Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the United States; conducted field visits to 30 sites in Mexico and Vietnam; and analyzed training materials, teaching guides, student assessment tools. Based on this, three primary approaches were identified: (1) project-based training that is embedded within a locally relevant purpose and in the context of social issues; (2) industry-specific training where ICT skills are tailored to specific sectors (tourism, legal services, health, etc.); and (3) skills-based, stand-alone training on ICT applications with no social purpose. Researchers found that most organizations work hard to make ICT skills training learner-centered, knowledge-rich, and deeply connected to community needs. Providing access to freely available ICT training materials is an important first step, but what comes next is key — tailoring training programs so that they foster civic participation, critical thinking, economic mobility, and social integration. This process requires a clear understanding of the context and a significant investment of time and resources — to an extent that is likely underestimated by the donors and organizations that support training programs.
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