Gates Foundation: Vietnam’s Public Libraries Offer Improved Access to Information and Technology
From the Gates Foundation Web Site:
On November 11, 2011, Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) launches an expanded project focused on the “Improvement of computer usage and public Internet access in Vietnam”, following approval by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Funded by a US$30m grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the project builds on the success of the earlier pilot, to implement the project across 40 provinces across the country over five years (2011 to 2016), reaching around 760,000 new users. In early August, the pilot project was awarded Best International Award for the “Best Rural Administration Initiative” at the Eworld Award Ceremony 2011.
The project will also benefit from US$17m support from the Vietnamese Government and related agencies, as well as a software contribution from Microsoft.
This project aims to close the “digital divide” between urban and rural populations, equipping public libraries and Community Post Offices (CPOs) with the technologies and skills needed to change lives and strengthen communities through information access. Founded on the belief that “computers and the Internet will enrich our lives”, the program will respond to the increasing information and technology needs of Vietnam’s rural communities; contribute to poverty reduction by promoting job and vocational training opportunities; and expand access to e-government services at the local level.
Over the course of the five year project, computers with broadband Internet access will be installed across nearly 2000 public libraries (65% of the country’s total) and CPOs. Training courses for staff across these institutions will be provided, to enable them to support users in meeting their information needs. The project will also focus on impact assessment and advocacy activities to increase awareness of the benefits of Internet and information technologies. The selection process will prioritize public libraries and CPOs in communes that are involved in the National Target Program “Building New Rural Areas,” to ensure the sustainability of the program’s impact beyond its five-year term.
“Through the pilot project, we have seen how access to information and technology can make a powerful difference to the lives of people across Vietnam,” said Deborah Jacobs, Director of the Global Libraries Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “As we expand the project, our success will depend upon our collective engagement, as we invest and learn together. It is only with the continued commitment of the Vietnamese Government and other partners that we can bring about sustainable change.”
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.