Telecentres full of computers – but without customers ..? A common question in many parts of the world.
‘Just provision of equipment and building the skills of telecentre operators alone would not solve the problem. It may require attention into broader socio-cultural aspects beyond technology, management and entrepreneurship’. That is the finding of an action research carried out in Sri Lanka, studying Socio-anthropological and Technological reasons behind lack of community participation at telecentres.
Research was carried out by Sarvodaya, together with University of Colombo School of Computing, Centre for Women’s Research, University of Peradeniya and D.Net (of Bangladesh).
The project had set up telecentres at the heart of 2 rural villages, provided the most up to date technology packages and tested community interactions.
Socio-anthropological reasons constraining participation:
- Community leadership found as more intrinsically influential in addition to the Gender, Age, Occupation & Educational status.
For instance, locations such as Buddhist temple which were recognized as a place of common interest, in a predominantly Buddhist rural community, found to act as a barrier at the participation of women. In contrast, same telecente facility has become the reason for Muslim youth to visit a Buddhist temple for the first time in their life, fostering healthy ethnic relations.
Such findings provides new insights – that the challenge of filling the rural telecentres are beyond the management and entrepreneurship.