Digital Literacy in Asia Pacific: 1 Million and Counting

As we move full steam ahead into 2013, governments and businesses across Asia Pacific are becoming increasingly concerned about the level of digital literacy in their communities. According to Towers Watson’s ‘Global Talent 2021’ report, the rapidly developing digital economy is increasing the demand for highly skilled technical workers, and digital business skills are seen as most critical to economic growth especially in the Asia Pacific region.

We have been working throughout the last decade to improve education systems across the Asia Pacific Region and around the world in order to prepare the next generation for the 21st Century workplace. Digital literacy is an important component in the development of competitive, robust economies across the region. The spread of ICT and the expansion of educational opportunities have the power to transform societies.

In 2012, Intel joined with numerous organizations to improve digital literacy across the Asia Pacific. The Intel Easy Steps Program, a digital literacy program developed for learners with little or no prior computer experience, has been widely adopted across the region. We’ve worked with educational institutions, governments and non-government organizations in ten countries across the region, to deliver digital literacy skills to a wide variety of beneficiaries.

Since being established in 2010, the Intel Easy Steps digital literacy initiative has enriched the lives of more than 1 million people in 20 countries.

For example, in the Philippines, Intel Easy Steps has been incorporated across various professional development programs by TESDA , the government-run vocational education institution supporting adult learning. At the age of 40, Lorelyn Royales was one of the first to enrol at eLearningVille, a TESDA-accredited institution providing computer training using the Intel Easy Steps Program. After taking the classes, Lorelyn, who had been unable to complete college, said “I feel like I have accomplished more than completing a college education with what I have learned”. She is now one of the few employees at her work who is capable of using a computer and is proud of what she is achieving using her newfound skills.

Another success story is Simon Sikuan, whose life was changed through his participation in the Intel Easy Steps program offered at Pangasinan School of Arts & Trades, a TESDA-accredited institution. The resources and mentorship he received throughout each module of the program helped him establish a firm grasp of digital knowledge. The interactive, hands-on methods used by the teachers helped him overcome his fear and learn skills quickly.

As such, he not only developed computer skills but the course also gave him the opportunity to acquire mentorship skills through his volunteer role as an assistant facilitator in class. Simon utilized his knowledge to become a part-time tutor. He uses the Intel® Education Help Guide as a reference to help members of community acquire the computer literacy that they need to live in a digital world.

The Philippines has not only implemented the Easy Steps program with education institutions, but has also innovated, expanding the reach of the program by offering content online through a Filipino Facebook application. This application is being translated so it can be launched in other Asia Pacific countries in 2013. In Vietnam, the Easy Steps program has converted the course into a viewer-friendly television show that will air on the national VTC channel, reaching rural communities and other previously isolated groups.

In India, similar stories of success from digital literacy initiatives can found. Kali Prasad Samantaraya a tribal youth from the Manikpur village of Banpur, Odisha, India found limited employment opportunities in his rural town. In 2010, his passion for learning led him to seek a job with eKutir, a social enterprise that works on rural empowerment. In early 2011, Kali Prasad discussed the digital literacy needs of rural communities with the managing director of eKutir. Soon after, he was signed up to a two-day Intel® Easy Steps training program in New Delhi.

Kali Prasad is now the head of the Odisha digital literacy program for eKutir, “today, I help other people in my area become digitally literate”.

Programs such as Easy Steps are helping to bridge the ‘digital divide’ that restricts the opportunities for underprivileged and rural students in the Philippines and India.

In addition, Intel India worked with policy makers on the National Digital Literacy Mission , a digital literacy summit hosted by Hindustan Times and NASSCOM. Presenting at the event, the Honorable Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Sachin Pilot, reiterated the government’s goal of making at least one person in each household digitally literate by 2020. To achieve this objective, over 240 million Indians would need to become digitally literate.

The positive impact of Intel’s efforts to improve digital literacy are being felt across the region as people are gaining the skills required to improve their employability, access information, and utilize digital services. The next generation is entering the workforce with the skills necessary to compete effectively in the digital era.

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