For projects initiated, sponsored and/or implemented by individuals.
The children accessibility to the new means of knowledge and the comprehension of future technology.
The Winning Project:
The Committee for Democracy in Information Technology (CDI)
(Selected winner from 17 projects) www.cdi.org.br
Mr. Rodrigo Baggio.
The Universidad National de Colombia.
The Committee for Democracy in Information Technology — CDI — is a non profit, non-governmental organization aiming to foster the social inclusion of low-income communities, using Information and Communication Technologies as tools to create awareness of citizens’ rights Since 1995, CDI has been carrying out a pioneer initiative to promote social inclusion, by using Information and Communication Technology as tool to create awareness of citizens’ rights and carry out community development projects.
CDI implements educational programs in Brazil and abroad through its Information Technology and Citizens Rights’ Schools, mobilizing excluded segments of society and helping them to bring about positive changes in their lives. It works in partnership with low-income community organizations and associations representing individuals with special needs, such as psychiatric patients, prisoners, street children, the visually impaired, and indigenous populations.
Gaining skills in the use of new technologies should not only make students better equipped to take advantage of employment and income generation opportunities, but also to create access to new information sources and social spheres.
In 1993 Rodrigo Baggio, a businessman and Information Technology teacher from Rio de Jarieiro, devised the idea of using the Internet as a communication channel for young people belonging to different social groups. This idea resulted in the creation of a BBS (Bulletin Board System) called “Jovemlink” and was the first step towards the establishment of CDI: a pioneer attempt to use Information and Communication Technology as a digital bridge to promote social integration. The idea was to use the BBS to help encourage dialogue between people living in “favelas” and in the rest of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
The service reached hundreds of users, but soon a new concern arose: almost all the users came from middle class and upper class families. Thus, the new challenge became to provide low-income communities with access to this technology. The campaign “Information technology for all”, the first initiative of this kind in Brazil, was then created to raise computers for young people living in poor communities.
In July 1994, the impact of the campaign was evaluated: computers were being used properly by the communities, but not to their full potential, as the communities were not used to this kind of technology. Then came the idea of creating the Information Technology and Citizens’ Rights Schools (ITCRS), a pioneer initiative in Brazil and indeed in Latin America, combining technology with the promotion of citizens’ rights, creating a new focus within the social sector.
The project reflects an innovative model of the usage of information technology to suit local needs for employment and rehabilitation. Information technology is not merely used as a tool for computer literacy, which is a step-forward towards a more rational use of information technology to suit human needs and as a tool for “social inclusion” through democratizing services for the impoverished segments of the population, whether for children, adults, prisoners, juvenile delinquents, psychiatric patients, or others. The project is also self-sustained and replicable as it is currently implemented in various countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The project’s tools are innovative in a sense that they include a thorough evaluation methodology, research, adaptability of curriculums to suit local and/or children with special needs, and the ability to disseminate information on a global scale.
Through the project, hundreds of schools were established across Brazil and abroad in partnership with other community organizations, benefiting thousands of children of the most vulnerable population.