Could you go tech-free for World Computer Literacy Day?

29 Nov 2012

Students from Holy Tree Academy, Mombasa, Kenya, experiencing Camara computers for the first time. Photo by Francis Curran

Irish-based charity and social enterprise Camara Education is challenging all us technophiles to go without technology for 24 hours to highlight the digital divide that still exists in the 21st century.

On World Computer Literacy Day this Sunday, 2 December, the Camara TechFast will see if people can give up tech for a day, reminding them to think of others that don’t have such easy access to modern technology.

While we live in an increasingly more connected world, it’s easy to forget the inequalities that exist on a global scale. The ‘global village’ is really more of a lopsided community, where information and communications technologies are heavily concentrated in the north.

“Seventy per cent of Ireland’s population are regular internet users, versus only 1pc for Ethiopia,” said Camara CEO John Fitzsimons, putting things into perspective.

Bridging the digital divide

World Computer Literacy Day was established in 2001 to help bridge this digital divide by promoting awareness and increasing access to IT for low-income communities.

“Look at the digital boom in Kenya,” said Fitzsimons. “Increasing access to technology in the home from 1pc to 4pc has resulted in the number of internet users increasing to 26pc in 2010 from 10pc in the previous year. As a result, an increasing number of Irish companies are doing business in the likes of Kenya.

“This is not just a development impact, it is having an economic boost for both countries,” he added.

Using refurbished donated equipment, Camara Education brings digital literacy to disadvantaged communities around the world. To date, it has supplied more than 35,000 computers to schools and other educational organisations, and trained more than 5,000 teachers in ICT in east Africa, Jamaica and Ireland, benefiting almost 500,000 children in the process.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.