Friday, May 19, 2006

Building community capacities in evaluating rural IT projects: Success strategies from the LEARNERS Project, by June Lennie, Greg hearn, Lyn Simpson & Megan Kimber, International Journal of Education and Development Using ICT, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2005).

The article describes outcomes of a project aimed at building evaluation capacities of two Australian rural communities involved in ICT initiatives. I guess living down under is as good an excuse as any for using the acronym C&IT, which stands for communication and information technologies rather than the more common -- at least in the US -- ICT, information and communication technology.

While the authors clearly espouse participatory action research, they are also quite open about limitations they encountered in trying to use PAR in rural Australian communities.

I particularly liked the focus on "community capacity building". Capacity building in ICT projects often starts with how to operate a computer, use basic software, send an email and browse the web. More often than not, that's also where the training ends. Those who pick up the skills and go on to more advanced training can hope to use these skills to get better paying jobs, often leaving the rural areas for better jobs in urban areas. In other words, the capacity that is built in rural areas through ICT projects is often not part of a "community" approach to capacity building. Individual training, in isolation of the needs of the community as a whole, and capacity building at the community level, isn't sufficient.

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