Computer skills lift vulnerable out of poverty

16:00 | 21/08/2013
Hoa is a young girl born in a poor village in the mountainous district of Thanh Hoa province. In order to bring extra money to their families, young people in the village looks for farm jobs across the border. Hoa left her village in a morning in 2007, to earn a living.

But due to young age and innocence, she found it difficult to find a job and was sold into prostitution.

After receiving help from the Centre for Women and Development Hoa was able to escape her predicament and began to interact and regain trust in other people. The centre also recommended Hoa to join a computer training course at the APEC Digital Opportunity Centre (ADOC). The road to a better life may have cost Hoa her innocence, but her determination finally paid off. Hoa now can cover her living expenses and provide some extra money to help her parents.

Hoa’s story isn’t rare. Thousands of Vietnamese people who live in difficult circumstances have been helped by the ADOC, a project established in 2004 to help people in APEC member economies to develop their computer skills.

ADOC is a self-funded multi-year Economic and Technical Co-operation initiative. It was first proposed by Taiwan at the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in 2003. Its aim is to assist all the partner member economies in APEC community by transforming the digital divide into digital opportunities.

At the ninth ADOC Workshop held on August 15-16 in Taipei, participants shared practical experiences on digital policy development and discussed case studies in order to identify the challenges, potential opportunities and the economic growth driven by developing an IT society.

According to Laura Breede, programme director for Public Computing and Sustainable Broadband Adoption under the National Telecommunications and Informative Administration of the United States Department of Commerce, demand remains huge.

“We have provided 12 million training hours and served more than three million people. But, how and where opportunities to learn are presented is essential to success,” Breede said at the workshop.

Barriers to learning are not what we might have expected, Breed added, and fear embarrassment and lack of relevance were as important as cost or availability.

Meanwhile professor doctor Toshio Obi from the Japanese APEC e-government Research Centre said information technology had continuously improved living standards.

“In developing countries, IT plays a critical role in the first steps up from poverty,” Obi stated.

Madam Cao Thi Hong Van, director of the Centre for Women and Development, an arm of the Vietnamese Women’s Union, said computer skills were one of the three most important factors to finding a job in Vietnam.

“With the support from ADOC, we have helped women in difficult circumstances to gain access to the internet, improve their living standards, and provide computer skills training,” Van said. 

The first phase of the ADOC project was launched in August 2004 and concluded at the end of 2008 in collaboration with 7 APEC partner member economies including Chile, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

To continue reducing the digital divide in the APEC region, the second phase of the ADOC project (ADOC 2.0) was proposed at the 2007 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and launched in 2009 by Taiwan.

ADOC 2.0 has brought the public and private sectors to together. With three partners Malaysia, Mexico, and Russia, there are now 10 countries co-operating under the ADOC 2.0 project.

The major goal is to enhance capacity building primarily by assisting women, children, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), groups with special needs, and those living in remote areas.

Between 2005 and 2012, 17 ADOC centres were established in Vietnam with more than 78,000 people, mainly women and children receiving training, including local small and medium e-commerce abilities.

Half a million people had received training by June 2013 at 101 ADOC centres established globally.

By By Bich Ngoc

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