This past week in class, we have discussed the stark digital divide between developing and developed countries around the world, as individuals in many parts of the world are severely restricted in terms of access to, use of, or knowledge of information and communication technologies. In our reading, we learned that some countries in Africa such as Burundi, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Niger all have less than 1 Internet user per 100 people, according to Tim Unwin in, “ICT4D: Information and Communication Technologies for Developmen.” What we too often forget however is that this concept of digital divide is not addressing solely impoverished third world countries across the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans, but rather also within our own borders in even seemingly wealthy urban areas.
San Diego, city known for its lovely climate and extensive beaches also has roughly 29 percent of the population lacking access to Internet at home. The San Diego Office of Education has not however accepted this as an inevitable circumstance and has teamed up with local businesses and non-profits to launch its “Unlimited Access” Program. It provides families with a “broadband device and a refurbished, three-year-old desktop valued at $950” (http://goo.gl/9JxJW for the full article). This ambitious program aims to provide all households in the San Diego County with internet, which the county superintendent of schools deems as an absolutely necessary prerequisite to succeeding in one’s education. The program has provided computers to 1,500 families since 2010, including most recently to students from migrant worker families. At least within the United States, the Digital Economy Rankings 2010 claim that the global digital divide is narrowing seems to hold true.
This program seems to be establishing a model for cities all over the country to eradicate the ever-restricting digital divide. After working in several educational settings in the New Orleans region, I would argue that the city could potentially use a similar program. Would you all agree? Is providing computers to all these families productive in enhancing their quality our life or is it going to result in wasted resources that are not put to the intended use?
To help analyze this issues even further, one could check out Maine’s program which provides an IPAD to every kindergartner and laptop to every student from seventh-grade on up in the state. The state’s investment in technology seems to boast of a high success rate. To read article: http://goo.gl/oBtuf