1) National ICT Policy: Vive Digital
Colombia’s national ICT policy is outlined through El Plan Vive Digital, an initiative sponsored by the Ministry of Information and and Communications Technologies (MinTIC). This link includes a short introductory video, an outline of the plan, policy goals, Colombia’s demand for ICT etc. A pdf of the government publication outlining the plan is availble here
Data is from 2011
Content language: Spanish
2) The Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones is responsible for overseeing Vive Digital. Link to their website here (content is in Spanish)
3) Here is a link to a study (in English) conducted by the Center for Information & Society at the University of Washington and the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos that discussed the impact of ICT training programs in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico. The Colombian programs highlighted were through the Centro Juan Bosco Obrero, Teleton Colombia, and Cirec (site of the latter is currently under construction).
4) Additional Resources:
– Colombia Digital: information on Colombia’s policy (English)
– Pro-Ideal: Colombia ICT summary and policy overview (English)
– Latin Lawyer: Information on ICT legislation and rights (English)
5) Due to the popularity and relative success of Vive Digital, it is fairly easy to access information on Colombia’s ICT policy. That being said, the most up to date content is often only available in Spanish.
Governments live under constant pressure to meet the growing needs of their citizens with limited resources available. Countries around the world have addressed this issue by modernizing government management through the implementation of innovative e-government programs. Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama were recognized as e-government champions by the 2013 version of the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report. In Panama, thanks to PanamaEmprende, entrepreneurs can set-up a company in 15 minutes. Internet connections have more than tripled in Colombia in less than three years. In Uruguay technology exports have more than quadrupled in a decade thanks to the support the government has provided to small and mid-size tech enterprises.
Colombia’s political investment in ICTs initiated 14 years ago with the release of the National Council for Economic and Social Policy’s policy agenda for the 21st Century. The strategic document became a road map for the development of the Colombian Knowledge-based society. Colombia’s e-government success is the product of a.) Strong political support, b.) The use of ICT as a state policy, c.) Sufficient Financial Resources, d.) Addressing Citizens’ concerns, e.) International Cooperation, and f.) Institutional and workforce capacity. Uruguay also started investing in ICTs in the late 1990s and its ICT success can be attribute, among other things, to the nurturing of tis local ICT businesses. In the case of Panama, e-government success is the result of extraordinary political support from the president and cabinet members.
Despite the astonishing progress Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama have achieved in terms of e-government, many challenges still remain visible: a.) millions of people still can’t afford to access the internet and b.) funds to expand the digital infrastructure of these countries are limited.
For more information about e-government in Colombia, Uruguay, and Panama, please refer to Chapter 2.3 of the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report available here.
In class this week, we discussed many of the criticisms of the “One Laptop Per Child” program, which gives sturdy, affordable laptops to children in developing countries. Some of these criticisms include the fact that the model is entirely dependent on the computer itself, which could break, the fact that the teachers are almost completely left out of the equation, the financial instability of the project, and the fact that the local historical context is rarely considered in the implementation of OLPC. Studies have shown that the program has caused very little improvement in learning benchmarks or economic indicators in most cases.
However, there are other voices on the ground who argue that OLPC is making a big difference. For example, Maureen Orth, an award-winning journalist, Peace Corps volunteer, and founder of the Marina Orth school in Medellin, Colombia states that OLPC is “the most wonderful tool they could possibly have.” In an isolated region plagued by gang-related and drug violence, Orth says that One Laptop Per Child is making a big difference to children’s education. According to her, computer and English skills are essential to helping children compete in the global market. She also says that the laptop keeps children interested because they view activities as a game, and it teaches them responsibility because they take it home.
I think that maybe the key to OLPC’s success at Orth’s school in Colombia is that they design their own curriculum and put a lot of emphasis on teacher training. These are traits that make Orth’s school different from other places where OLPC has been implemented. Despite One Laptop Per Child’s many flaws, Orth’s on-the-ground perspectives shows that it can be successful in improving children’s education in developing countries if it is implemented in the right way, such as keeping the emphasis on teachers and being aware of the local context.
National ICT Policy:
1) FORESTA ICT Policy Analysis Report
Report Published by FORESTA in 2010, analysis of Colombia ICT policy starts on page 29. English.
2) Global Information Technology Report 2012
Published by World Economic Forum, English
3) Latin Lawyer Business Law Resource
Overview of telecommunications capabilities, English.
4) Difficult to find any official government portals regarding ICT policies, but the Foresta report was a very detailed analysis of the history of the policies and was an invaluable resource for research.
After reading the Warschauer & Ames article on One Laptop per Child, I was inspired to research Colombia, my country of choice for my paper, to see what kind of progress the program has made there. OLPC has had a presence in Colombia since 2008. I found an interesting video in which Nicholas Negroponte discusses bringing the project to Colombia:
The interesting thing about the way the program was initially implemented is that it was a partnership with the Colombian Ministry of Defense. A big object in the way of development in Colombia is the civil war that has been waged there almost constantly since 1964 between the government and various guerrilla groups. The government has been accused by many of committing human rights violations throughout the conflict. For this reason it is a good sign that the Ministry of Defense would attempt to fight its image problem by redeeming itself with participation in the OLPC program. However, it also raises skepticism at whether or not the Ministry is doing it for the right reasons or rather as a tool for propaganda or other hidden agenda.
Despite arguments on the program’s true impact, Colombia has had great success in terms of numbers of laptops distributed. The local governor in Caldas purchased 65,000 laptops to be distributed through the region. Native star Shakira’s foundation purchased 700 laptops for three schools in different Colombian cities. Most recently 11,000 laptops were distributed to public schoolchildren in the city of Itagüí. Colombia currently has 54 educational institutions across the country that implement the OLPC program independently. While we have learned about the detractions of the OLPC program, it is hard to argue that getting that many laptops in the hand of children and providing them with at least the opportunity to learn and experiment with technology is a bad thing. Education is a huge problem that is holding back development in Colombia and the country is desperate for progress of any kind. At the very least the country currently has a greater capacity for ICT4D than it did before the implementation of the OLPC project.