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Beyond the Net

Empowering Education for the Next Generation In Paraguay

Colegio Técnico National (CTN) of Asunción is one of the top schools in Paraguay offering the technical baccalaureate. It was created by the country’s Ministry of Education and Science in 1980. The school is attended by more than 1,500 students from the capital city and from nearby towns like Luque, Fernando de la Mora, San Lorenzo, Lambaré, and Capiatá.

As with most of Paraguayan state schools, the CTN does not have the right infrastructure for an appropriate development of modern education. The little equipment owned by the CTN, donated more than 25 years ago by private or charitable institutions, are today too obsolete. Classes do not have any type of interactive material due to the lack of an Internet connection, equipped laboratories, and modern computers. A new project lead by the Paraguay Chapter and supported by the Internet Society Beyond the Net Funding Programme will provide the school with Internet access and set up a high-tech electronics lab to ensure a quality environment for the development of innovative solutions based on robotics, automation, e-learning systems, and the Internet of Things250 students will be trained in the use of online tools. ReVa , a virtual library, will be available to students and used as a primary reference tool. “Thanks to the Internet we have the opportunity to access information as well as seek help in forums and also learn “C” programming” say some pupils from the school, effusively.

CTN students:  Tomas Aquina, Alana Segovia and Juan Velazquez

The project’s aim is to have 450 students in electronics participating with their innovative solutions to national and international competitions. Alana, a young girl wearing a cyber-circuit head t-shirt, explains: “I think that we’ll have more opportunities thanks to the new laboratory. There will be more space for curiosity and inventiveness. It will be very exciting to develop the projects that we present every year to Expotecnia, a fair where each student can showcase their own technological solutions.”

The installation of a network based on IPv6 will facilitate the adoption of new protocols, in addition to teaching administration and Internet infrastructure. 30 teachers will be trained to educate with technological resources. “Teachers are still reporting activities manually, but soon we’ll have a School Management System online”, says Informatics Professor Martha Mojoli, “This project will facilitate us to generate greater interest and higher expectation in students while we are guiding them towards innovative learning objectives.”

Once the project is closed the costs of ISP, computer maintenance, and payment of salaries to technicians and teachers will be paid by the CTN. In addition, the CTN is committed to receive ISOCpy members from universities to work as facilitators and students coaches.

“We believe that the empowerment of our ICT learning will help us to enrich the digital economy in the future. We hope to be snapped up and working as soon as we finish our studies,” one student says, smiling.

Do you have a great idea to make your community better via the Internet? Apply for a Beyond the Net grant, which funds projects up to $30,000 USD.

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Technology

Connecting “Los Nevados” on the Roof of the Andes

Beyond the Net Journal: Venezuela Chapter

Have you ever been to Los Nevados?

Reaching this tiny village, located in the Sierra Nevada National Park at 2,711 m. above sea level, can be a real adrenaline adventure. The scary and dangerous cliff road leading to the town is one of the world’s most spectacular and dangerous. The rough terrain can get very muddy and slippery after rain, making it challenging to get through.

As you can guess, not less challenging was bringing Internet access to 2,000 inhabitants living in this remote area.

The idea to develop a wireless architecture to provide Los Nevados with Internet services and reduce their isolation came to Paola Perez, a computer systems engineer and Internet Society member. At that time she was based in Merida, the capital city, 69 km away.

Paola remembers: “Initially my dream was to bring connectivity to the Canaima National Park, the UNESCO World Heritage site, but I changed my mind when I recalled my friend Yeiny, who lives in Los Nevados. She attended university in Merida, but she couldn’t return to her village on weekends because she had no Internet connection to download the contents of the exams.”

Gabriela Muñoz (left), Paola Pérez (right)

Empowering “Los Nevados” through ICTs usage for social benefit” was funded in 2016 by the Internet Society in collaboration with the Venezuela Chapter. Although it seemed impossible to overcome the technical difficulties, the project team never lost sight of their dream to connect that remote place to the rest of the world. At the end, the talented and devoted team succeeded and also won the Chapterthon – a marathon open to all LAC Chapters to achieve a common goal for the development of their region.

The fruits of persistence are now providing endless benefits to Los Nevados, who are overcoming their physical and cultural isolation.

New educational opportunities are offered to the local students through access to relevant content and remote learning. Parents with children studying away at university are now using live chat and email services to get in touch.

Farmers, who represents the majority of the population, are exchanging seeds and marketing their products. Artisans are promoting their crafts online.

Not only los Nevaderos are now enjoying the Internet connection with unlimited services but also the visitors.” Paola explains: “It’s hard to imagine because it’s a place so difficult to reach, but about 500 people per month are visiting the village. Hikers use it as a base for climbing Pico Bolivar, the highest mountain in Venezuela (4,978 m). When there was no Internet connection all payments were only in cash, and people were not aware of it until they arrived at the site. Now tourists are able to book accommodations and make online payments.”

The Civil Registry of the village can finally provide inhabitants with any digital document downloadable from public websites. It is also possible to keep records of births and deaths in digital format, sharing the data with institutions. The “Village Radio Station” is using streaming technology to share in real time the news from the world. Los Nevados also take pride of publishing stories and photos about the community to preserve their traditions. The Internet has become an essential tool for information and citizen participation.

These are only few examples of how this project is empowering the life of Los Nevados and helping to achieve SDG goals 3,4,8,9.

Do you feel like renting a burro for three hours trek to Los Nevados, getting lost in the magnificent tropical zone of the Andes? Now you can book online.

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights

How the Internet changed the Nyirarukobwa Primary School

Sarah is 11 years old and goes to school in the Nyirarukobwa Primary School, together with about 1400 other kids.

She tells me that she joined this school this year because it has a very high success rate for the National Exam. Sarah said to me, “I want to go to boarding School,” which is what will happen when she passes the exam and goes to secondary school.

She is one of the 700 plus children who joined the Nyirarukobwa School over the last 3 years (yes the number of kids just doubled!!) because of its high exam success rate.

Wonder why?

Apart from a very dynamic and forward thinking school principal and very passionate teachers, the school received a grant through the Internet Society Grants programme in 2013 to get the school connected to the Internet and to get some computers and printers to train the teachers and teach computer classes to the children.

Robert Birushyabagabo (right), a member of the teaching staff, addressing an Internet Society delegation at Nyirarukobwa Primary School in the Eastern Provice of Rwanda on 11 May 2017. Birushyabagabo teaches ICT and maintains the school’s computers, which were donated by the Internet Society.

For three years the school managed to not only give computer classes to the students but the teachers also actively used the computers to prepare their classes, the exams, assignments, revisions etc.

Without printed assignments and tests the main knowledge transfer happens through the use of a massive blackboard and a lot of memorising and repeating.

Joyce Dogniez, Senior Director for Global Engagement at the Internet Society, with a teacher during a visit by an Internet Society delegation to Nyirarukobwa Primary School in the Eastern Provice of Rwanda on 11 May 2017.

The school says it helped.

But with success comes challenges.  Now there is not enough space for all the children, so they split the classes in morning classes and afternoon classes and move the computers into the principals office (they needed the computer class to accommodate for classrooms).

Robert Birushyabagabo, pictured on on 11 May 2017, teaches ICT and maintains the computers at Nyirarukobwa Primary School in the Eastern Provice of Rwanda. Overcrowding at the school resulted in the computer lab having to be converted to the classroom, and the computers are now in a cramped space that was formerly the headmaster’s office. The room is too small to use for teaching, so ICT lessons had to be stopped.

And sadly, as the grant funding ran out, they ran out of funding for the Internet connectivity.

Our local Chapter, the Rwanda Chapter is working with the school to identify options to restore the connectivity and plan for a sustainable long term solution.

This story of one school really shows the impact ICTs have on the quality of education, it shows that if we want to achieve the goals we set ourselves through the UN Sustainable Development Goals to ensure Inclusive and Quality Education (SDG4) we need to push for the use of ICTs and more particularly the use of the Internet.

This is also why broader Internet and Education policy plans are necessary.

The Internet Society launched a paper on Internet for Education in Africa last week in Kigali during the first African Regional Internet and Development Dialogue providing an overview of the impact of the Internet on education in Africa but also providing a score card for policy makers.

Together, let’s make sure that all the Sarah’s of the world get access to quality education by 2030!

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter 

Share this story
If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project
We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Find out more about the programme 

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights Improving Technical Security Internet Governance Privacy Women in Tech

Internet Chalao, Patriarchy Dabao. Leveling up Pakistani women.

Beyond the Net Journal: Pakistan Chapter #2 Episode

In the absence of any laws to tackle cyber harassment, Nighat Dad, digital rights advocate, created Hamara Internet (Our Internet), a pioneer project to raise the awareness of digital violence against women. The project, funded by Internet Society’s Beyond the Netis now completed and opened a new chapter in the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan.

Hamara Internet is all about WOMEN and their right to use the Internet free from harassment. Under the slogan “Internet Chalao, Patriarchy Dabao” (Use the Internet, Destroy Patriarchy), Hamara Internet provided women with skills to create safe online spaces and advocate for gender-inclusive Internet governance processes at a national level.

“The project has been successful in many ways.” says Nighad Dad “The main target of the campaign was to train about 300 students, but the program ended up training more than 460. Our efforts to involve women in large numbers were rewarded with an enthusiastic response. The more seminars we held the more we were asked by other colleges and universities to hold similar trainings in their institutes as well. The Internet Society mission had been introduced in every seminar we conducted by Mr. Faisal Shahzad, vice president of Pakistan Chapter. At the end of the campaign, the national conference we held in Islamabad attracted more than 100 young women from Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar.”

Informative brochures about privacy and online safety have been created in both English and Urdu languages and distributed in the form of ten flip cards during seminars and conferences. The website hamarainternet.org was built to give legal and security advice, providing with the first digital harassment Crisis Center in Pakistan.

Hamara Internet success is providing key evidence that the Open Internet is an essential tool in facilitating the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, leveraging collaboration and partnerships needed to make them a reality. This is how the project is relevant for the following SDG’s goals:

1. No Poverty
In Pakistan poverty has a “woman’s face”. Women’s lives are affected by economic deprivation. They have been deprived of adequate education and forced to live in the tight bind of the patriarchal tradition. Hamara Internet is teaching women to take control of their lives and to catch online opportunities to reduce poverty.

3. Good health and well-being
One Pakistani woman dies every 37 minutes from complications during childbirth indicating poor maternal healthcare in the country. Domestic violence is still a main cause of complications related to pregnancy. Women safe access to the Internet allows to find information for a healthier life and to discuss about reproductive issues and domestic violence.

4. Quality education
We are talking about a country that has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world. Where women are forced to just bear children and stay within their houses. Where separate schools for girls are not available in several regions. In this scenario, offering access to appropriate technology allows all female students to get in contact with a world of opportunities, opening up access to education and training in a very cost-effective way. Women empowered through education will be able to improve their own living conditions, as well as the conditions of their society.

5. Gender equality
Pakistan has been ranked the second worst country in the world for gender equality (first is Yemen). The gender gap is dramatically widening and today is larger than 10 years ago. Hamara Internet is spreading awareness about the imbalances between women’s and men’s access and participation in ICTs and is fighting to ensure that women equally share the benefits arising from the global digital economy.

8. Decent work and economic growth
The main factors contributing to poor employment trends include low literacy rates, social taboos and regulations preventing the active participation of women in the economic growth. They are forced into low-paid jobs where their abilities remain unused. The project showed women that the possibilities to improve their lives going online are endless. Some are starting to use the Internet to run their own business, others are using it to manage entire projects or to create presentations for their colleges.

10. Reduced inequalities
There is a growing evidence of multiple inequalities in Pakistan: race, gender, geography and economy. The project is aiming to increase the capacity building of women and set a new paradigm of Internet governance in Pakistan by engaging women in political discussions.

16. Peace, justice and strong istitutions
The annual report by the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded hundreds of rapes, kidnapping, acid attacks, amputations and burnings. Almost 800 women attempted suicide in 2016. Women are frequently too afraid to report the crimes or are forced to withdrawing complaints. The project team is working with institutions to integrate Hamara Internet workshops and training manuals in the educational programmes of schools and colleges to make the next generations more secure and well-informed.

This pioneer project had become a women’s movement contributing to make a better world, a world of more compassion and equality. The key to a better future of Pakistan lies in giving priority to the development of human capabilities for which the Internet role can make a difference.

Watch the video to hear from a cyber harassment victim

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog post and follow our stories on Twitter

Share this story
If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project
We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Find out more about the programme

Read more:

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Internet of Things (IoT)

A drone project to change humanitarian disaster response in Philippines.

Philippines is the 4th most disaster-prone country in the world. When a natural disasters hits we are completely wiped out. In remote and rural parts of the Philippines, telecommunications networks can be spotty most of the times. This scenario is willing to change thanks to the Internet Society’s Philippines Chapter new project supported by Beyond the Net Funding Programme.

The aim of the project is to send UAVs — or what most of us call drones — in disaster zones to act as wireless relays and data aggregators. The drones would set up a local MESH network to help people to get in touch with the loved ones. It would also help emergency workers to work safely and talk to one another. The project will also make possible that the drones will be able to work with Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) to find information about the situation on the ground.

In the recent years, interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has been evidenced by innovations in this emerging field. Hobbyists and scientists alike have leveled up the use of UAVs in many ways such as forestry surveys, remote sensing and disaster management. While much of the focus of drones to date has been on military applications and as toys, the future of drones as humanitarian tools is getting more promising by the day. Commercial industries view drones as the new logistics support mechanism for parcel delivery, they are also used by environmental bureaus for tracking river flow changes.

In a country prone to disasters like the Philippines, researchers saw the opportunity to implement drones in the field of disaster management. Over the years, the Ateneo de Manila University Innovation Center has been developing use cases for drone technology, mostly for mission-critical scenarios as decision-support platform. Dr. Nathaniel Joseph Libatique, a professor at Manila University said: “We can all do optimization on battery life, rotor design, and frame aerodynamics, but at the core of engineering for humanity is the UAV’s payload – this niche is a breeding space for innovation. Say for example, we can do a fly-by and detect victims in a collapsed building, or do cooperative flights with ground teams – we can cover the breadth of a situation while scaling up value-added systems such as location detection, risk profiling, and even internet connectivity!”

Using hybrid communications technologies and devices – Push-To-Talk (PTT) Radio, Android-based protocols, Raspberry Pi hubs, 915 MHz and 760 MHz transceivers and delay tolerant communications standards (RFC 5050) – the project team continues to demonstrate how critical information such as victim or survivor identities and needs can be robustly transmitted to command and control using bump communications, aggregation and store and forward techniques. Information analysis such as facial recognition and pre-stored information of survivor social networks, especially for the elderly and PWDs, enable an efficient and targeted response.

Flying over the municipality of San Juan, Batangas, a province 140 kilometers south of Metro Manila, the team did a series of experiments that demonstrated the role of UAVs integrating connectivity, highlighting cooperation and underscoring collaboration. In a disaster situation, responders use various radio communication media and this presents an opportunity to interface drones with these devices. Systems incorporating ground vehicles and UAVs provide the breadth and scale necessary to respond to disasters and undertake victim rescue apart from purely imagery missions. In this series of tests, the team did propagation measurements between “victims” and drones functioning as rescuer/alert vehicle. The UAV was flown above the antenna setup subject to the applicable civil aviation rules, utilizing the frequency (760 MHz) as approved for experimental use by the telecommunications regulator. Initial results reveal the potential of UAVs to complement ground teams in the performance of victim rescue support.

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

How to apply Beyond the Net

Find out more about the programme 

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Growing the Internet

Zenzeleni – Do it Yourself! – How a rural community in South Africa became a telecommunication operator.

Mankosi, in the Eastern Cape Province, is one of South Africa’s most economically disadvantaged communities. Most of the 3,500 residents live on less than $2 per day. In spite of this, residents spend an average of 22 percent of their income on the ability to connect and communicate. Unfortunately, less than a quarter of residents are online in any given month. Mankosi needed an alternative to expensive, spotty service. Zenzeleni Network was set up in 2012 to provide voice service to the community, using analog phones connected to WiFi routers and Voice over IP (VoIP) technology.

Now, the Internet Society’s South Africa Gauteng Chapter and the University of Western Cape, supported by ISOC’s Beyond the Net Funding Programme, are assisting Zenzeleni Networks to upgrade the system in order to create a powerful and stable network, helping to get more people online. The programme also will provide computer labs in Mankosi’s primary and secondary schools and computer literacy training for teachers. The goal is to get people online for a fraction of what it currently costs to connect, and turn Zenzeleni into a model for community-owned telecommunications companies. On March 2017, Zenzeleni Networks was selected as a semifinalist of the Mozilla’s Equal Rating competition, recognizing the potential of  this amazing “community network” as a viable alternate way to communicate.

Carlos Rey-Moreno, senior researcher at the University of the Western Cape and project manager, talks about his experience in this fascinating project:

“If I had to explain what I do, I would say that I’m a telecommunications activist. I try to bring forward the voice of those that are underserved by communications operators and communications ecosystems. I came to rural areas of South Africa about five years ago, and I tried to understand the way people here communicate and how they communicate. When I first got here, I did quite a lot research on how much money people spend on communications, and how they communicate. One of the things I found was that people here still spend a lot of money on telephone calls. In rural South Africa, families are very disrupted because people have to migrate, particularly the men in the family. They go off to work in the mines and the large farms near Cape Town, and their families want to be in touch. As a result, households are spending, on average, 22 percent of their disposable income on communications. Community networks like Zenzeleni are crucial to cut these costs.

Zenzeleni is a partnership between the University of the Western Cape, where I’m a post-doctoral fellow, and Mankosi, the community I work in. Everything we do is based on what the people in Mankosi want to do. We have a cooperative board that sets the agenda.

Initially, we were focused on VoIP calling. That seemed to be the most logical way to help bring down people’s communication costs. It didn’t require a lot of bandwidth, and it fit under the existing regulatory framework. So, we set up a MESH potato network (Steve Song is the creator of MESH potato and you can find a link here to Steve and MESH potato), that allowed analog phones to work via a VoIP network. We had the tribal local authorities select some people to be in charge of the phones. They had to select 10 houses that “see” at least three other houses, and that have people who were at home to help for security reasons.

That VoIP project got a little bit of momentum behind it, but it didn’t catch on like we’d hoped. The people in those houses used the phones and some neighbors used the phones, but mostly people kept using their mobile devices. Changing the consumer dynamics of people in rural areas is very difficult. Change takes time. They like to stick to what they know works.

What did catch people’s attention, though, was the fact that the MESH potatoes were solar powered, and that those solar panels were producing excess electricity. So, people asked if we could use that power for a mobile charging station, so it suddenly cost half as much money for people to charge their phones. This changed the way people used their phones, and how much money people had left over.

Now, we’re also looking at setting up our own local mobile network using unlicensed GSM spectrum, similar to what Rhizomatica has done in Mexico. The next project for Zenzeleni is setting up backhaul to a fibre network in the nearest city. We’re making that happen with a series of wireless relay towers. The elders and leadership here in Mankosi are really eager to get a proper, reliable, affordable Internet connection. The plan is to set up computer labs in the primary and secondary schools, to have a community WiFi network that people who have WiFi enabled phones can use for free, and we’re getting some old personal computers (PCs) donated to set up access points for people who don’t have smart phones. The people that are running the cooperative are very much interested in the education of the youngsters. They are doing this to open up opportunities for the next generation.

Zenzeleni is really a community network in the truest sense of the word. Our cooperative board set the priorities, they set the rates for things like mobile charging. We just try to help them make it happen. We’ve already done some cool things here, but once we get this fibre backhaul, I think there are amazing things that are going to happen. It’s all about giving opportunities. When you give people opportunities to explore, with a little bit of money, or a little bit of bandwidth, or a little bit of spare electric energy generated by the solar systems, people do amazing stuff.”

We wondered how the Zenzeleni project would benefit ISOC’s Gauteng Chapter. This is the truly comprehensive answer of the former President, Gabriel Ramokotjo.

“The success of the project will contribute immensely to the development of the Chapter. The Chapter will grow its membership beyond the province of Gauteng in South Africa, and also will attract the interest of the Youth in the rural areas. The first phase of the project has already received positive coverage from the Media, which has led to partnerships with the University of the Western Cape and the Right 2 Know Campaign. There’s no doubt of the benefits that the Chapter will derive from the project, such as forging and strengthening collaborative partnerships with academic, civil societies, and the private sector. Even more important, the project is aligned with the goal of our Government National Development Plan: to have all South Africans connected and using the Internet by the year 2020. With the support of the Internet Society, it’s a new opportunity also to create closer collaboration with our Government on policy and technical issues affecting the Internet in our country.”

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter.

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

How to apply Beyond the Net

Find out more about the programme 

Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Growing the Internet Human Rights

Internet@MySchool – a pilot project connecting Yemeni schools in Sanaa and Aden

As a country, Yemen is among the least with Internet connectivity in the Middle East. This is particularly troubling given the rise of Internet access across the globe. Furthermore, the youth in Yemen constitute the majority of the population yet are being left behind because of the lack of Internet access in schools due to poor economic conditions coupled with other priorities that supersede Internet access.

And due to the continuation of conflicts, the educational process in Yemen facing many challenges: shortages in the financial resources, the rehabilitation of partially damaged schools, and the printing of school textbooks. Currently, there are about 2 million school-age children are out of school and more than 1,600 schools are currently unfit for use due to conflict-related damage, hosting of IDPs, or occupation by armed groups.

While schools in Yemen facing these challenges, that does not mean that Internet access should not be a high priority. On the contrary, we believe that the Internet could be a strong incentive and means of support to help students acquire knowledge and be motivated to study online and compensate for the lack of books and other study material.

Students need the Internet because it is the most effective way to share ideas and experiences and complement regular traditional education. Similarly, teachers need to be informed of the new pedagogic methods and teaching material that allows them to enhance their teaching methods and improve their curricula. Teachers can also use the Internet to exchange views with each other and formulate common ideas to present to the government. This is why Yemen Chapter strongly believe in connecting schools to the internet will have a long-term positive impact.

Thanks to Beyond the Net Funding Programme support we are implementing Internet@MySchool, a project which aims to connect to the Internet four secondary school’s senior classrooms in two cities (Sanaa, and Aden) and provide training and booklets to ensure that the Internet services the project provides are used effectively by students and teachers in those schools.

The project will select one boys school and one girls school in both cities. Those schools are going to be a pilot project, which we hope will be replicated across the country and the region.

The project team, in the last five months, has worked hard to identify the selected schools to implements the project through a selection and evaluation criteria. The team has completed the following activities:

  • Installed the Internet and network infrastructure in four schools in Sana’a and Aden.
  • Produced and printed 3000 copy of a booklet in Arabic language with illustrations will be used in the training sessions for students on the basics of internet and how to use internet as a tool for education. The booklet will be distributed to students and staff in the selected schools and could be reprinted and used in many different settings and contexts if resources are available.
  • Created a website for the project with login authorization to each of the schools to allow students and staff posting  their own experiences, photos, questions, and other contributions and for the project to promote its work. Additionally, students can communicate with their teachers and colleagues to discuss and share educational resources or materials.
  • Created Social media accounts such as facebook page for disseminating project activities among public audience.
  • Video showing some activities of the project
  • Video promoting the website of the project 
  • Preparing for the training sessions in the next few weeks.
Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Find out more about the programme 
Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter 

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Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights IETF Internet Governance Open Internet Standards Technology

How the IETF community is shaping technology to build a better society

The continued advancement in technological landscape enabling more people having Internet access in the global arena has meant that IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) remains at the forefront of integrating technology with humanity. In fact, IETF has made significant use of social dimension to articulate its area of work and research. It is beautifully reflected in section 4.1 of the RFC 3935 wherein it states that “We want the Internet to be useful for communities that share our commitment to openness and fairness.  We embrace technical concepts such as decentralized control, edge-user empowerment and sharing of resources, because those concepts resonate with the core values of the IETF community”. This focus of inclusion remains at forefront of integration of IETF with human dimension of technology. The standards created in IETF are testimony to technical developments and enables innovation by providing a platform for the innovation and interoperability.

Indian IETF Capacity Building (IICB) Program Phase II has received Beyond the Net Support from Internet Society and focuses on creating technical capacity development for increased participation and contribution of technical standards on Internet from India. The program aligns itself with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals such of economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

The IICB program was conceived as a traditional program which is hierarchical in nature, meaning it has fixed KPIs rolling up-to objectives and further upward roll up to mission and vision. However, in reality, the program has taken a shift and has focused on creating communities as well which decides their own course of action. This was a marked shift as it required adjustments in the delivery of the program and larger emphasis on adoption. As individuals are important in IETF process, it asked from the program implementers to develop a greater understanding of the role of individual who is going to contribute in the IETF process, the collective beliefs one possesses, the world views on standards and standardization, the priorities of making a contribution as well as loyalties as time has to be taken out from different parts of day, personal and professional space for inching into this community.

Hence, the awareness sessions being carried out in the program focused on human concerns in the technical standard development process in IETF like. The workshops focused on societal benefits of collaborative work happening in IETF and remote participation was not hearing the speakers over Internet, but was a presence across the seas and directly learning from the activities therein.

A significant milestone for IICB program was in late 2016 when a community of technical researchers and academicians based out of 150 KMs from main city of Kolkata, at a place called Mallabhum wherein we had done our awareness sessions and workshops, proposed us their own plans of execution and the task at hand was now just to enable them. Since then they are moving out to do IETF awareness sessions, remotely logging on to IETF sessions, have created smaller sub groups to focus on specific areas of technology and following the debate in IETF mailing lists. Emboldened, one of the key movers is working to get his visa for his first physical participation in IETF in Chicago.

Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter.

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Applications are open until 23th March
Find out more about the programme 

Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Development Growing the Internet Human Rights

Barev dzez! You are listening to Radio MENQ. The voice of the visually impaired of Armenia.

Beyond the Net Journal: Armenia Chapter #3 Episode

When Armenia declared independence in 1991, the Internet access finally became available, allowing people to be part of the world again. The creation of an Internet Availability Center in 2012 (funded by Internet Society’s grant) at the Culture House for the Blind in Yerevan, triggered creative ideas among active members of the center.

They came to conclusion that an Internet radio station would be the greatest opportunity for helping the blind and visually impaired. The project started in January 2016 supported by the Internet Society’s Beyond the Net Funding Programme”. Today, it is a dream come true.

Radio MENQ (“We” in Armenian language) has become a platform empowering people with disabilities. The programming covers practical and psychological matters. Many artists and scientists with disabilities have been invited as guests to share their lived experiences. This radio station is opening up new horizons for the visually impaired and their families.

The project team is comprised of people with disabilities of various specialties. All of them are proficient in their areas and highly motivated in bringing change to people’s lives. Radio MENQ is contributing to the cultural and spiritual development of its audience through psychological advice, reading of prose and fairy tales for children, gaming competitions, and hours of music.

Just taking a look at some of the programs currently on air illustrates the important role this station plays:

  • “You can” – 13 episodes about people who are blind, from ancient to modern times, who demonstrated notable achievements, like Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli, Diana Gurtskaya, Louis Braille
  • “Internet and the blind” – Opportunities and how to use them
  • “Psychology in life” – How to use internal resources to achieve goals
  • “Toward Independence” – Ways to improve self-dependence
  • “Problem and solution” – What role can visually-impaired people play in the society. The role of family and education in the process of socialization. How to overcome psychological barriers when searching for a job.
  • “Rights and privileges” – About legislative solutions for blind people
  •  “Loving a person” – How to destroy barriers in relationships
  •  “My Universities” – How to get a higher education and find a job
  • “Sports and We” –  Brilliant victories in Paralympics sports
  • “Learn to play Chess” – Lessons from the blind master Yura Awetisyan

Radio MENQ has been promoted through mass media, social networks and public events with the involvement of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of Armenia Republic. We are proud to say that the blog is getting up to 2,800 visits monthly, and a mobile application to reach a wider audience is in the pipeline.

In Armenia, the estimated number of blind and visually impaired people is 25,000 and in Diaspora 50,000. While the team was discussing ways to expand the project to Diaspora communities, they received this message from United States: “Barev dzez! My name is Laurel and I am a blind student studying at the University of Oklahoma. My instructor is Armenian, and I got inspired to learn Armenian as well. I found your radio station online. I love listening to your programs, and I use it to help teach myself Armenian. When I discovered how hard it was to read with a screen reader in Armenian, I thought why not do something. I am actually working on creating a project that could help blind people in Armenia, Georgia and Russia through technology and educational opportunities. I would really like to connect with the blind community in Armenia, and I plan to visit Yerevan in September.”

The famous blind pianist Levon Karapetyan, who used to move around with helpers, is another inspiring story. While he was in France for a study period he listened to Radio MENQ’s “Toward Independence” and he got very interested in self-development tools mentioned in the program. When he came back to Armenia he visited the station and asked the team to teach him how to use the white cane and other tips to move independently. The mobility training changed his life for the better. A special episode devoted to his experience will be broadcast in the future.

In addition to being a public health concern, blindness also has a great impact on the social and economic wellbeing of an individual. First efforts to educate the blind were attempted at the beginning of the 19th century thanks to the Louis Braille system. Until that time, blind people were considered mostly uneducable and untrainable. One of the worst stereotypes about blindness is the belief of that it limits to the kind of jobs you can do. Blind children acquire this sad way of thinking from society.

The radio station aims to raise awareness about how an appropriate environment can increase the ability of a person with disabilities to work independently and add value to society. After Radio MENQ went on air, many young people have started to learning how to be program presenters and sound technicians. The Armenian blind community is starting to break the stereotypes and prove they are able to work on equal footing.

This project is illustrating the power of the Internet in creating innovation and local solutions with global impact. Radio MENQ is becoming a reference for visually impaired people, also facilitating the collaboration and partnerships needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Watch the video and see the amazing job they are doing

Listen to Radio MENQ

This project is relevant to achieving the following SDGs goals:

More projects for the visually impaired:


Stay tuned for the upcoming blog and follow our stories on Twitter.

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If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Applications are open until 23th March
Find out more about the programme 

Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Internet Governance

They are young and passionate. They will rule the future Internet.

Beyond the Net Journal: Youth Observatory #1 Episode

 “The voices of young people are not heard when it comes to Internet policy” said Carlos Guerrero, project manager of the Youth Observatory. “We are the generation that has been using the Internet since we were children, and we are the ones who will be using it for the next 50 years. Our voice matters.”

The Youth Observatory is a nonprofit organization founded in September 2015, and supported as a Special Interest Group (SIG) by the Internet Society’s Beyond the Net Funding Programme since 2016. It is formed mostly of young people between 18 and 25 years from different countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The main objective of the Observatory is to generate interest among the young people about core issues related to Internet governance.

Currently the project team is working to create an Open Call for Papers, written by young people, about knowledge dissemination and research in cyber security and digital rights management. We are grateful to Carlos Guerrero for answering few questions to gain a deeper understanding of this interesting project.

How many people have been trained so far?
We have trained more than 100 young people about Internet governance and related topics during YouthLACIGF, an event held in San José, Costa Rica (26 July 2016) and during our guided courses.

What is the impact of the project on the community?
We are empowering young people by providing them the tools to engage with different local operations. Moreover, our members are working in different Internet governance initiatives in their own countries and other related projects. The main focus of the project is to enrich the current Internet ecosystem with new participants and ideas, and to act as a kickstarter for young people who want to get engaged.

What has changed for the community since the project started?

  • The increase of active participation of young people in Internet governance spaces, not just as “youth talking about youth issues” but addressing serious subjects such as policy, digital economy, cybersecurity, and regulation.
  • The creation of a global community inside the Internet ecosystem, where young people can share experiences, knowledge and support in a friendly and relaxed environment.

Give us one reason why others should apply to “Beyond the Net”
Our generation is more connected than any previous generation in the world. This means that now there are fewer barriers to communication and travel, and in sharing our ideas with others. This means we can make big changes just by doing small things. “Beyond The Net” gave us the tools to turn our ideas into action.

How has the funding contributed to your project so far
The funding has allowed us to achieve these objectives:

  • Creation of a youth organization inside the Internet ecosystem.
  • Creation of IG spaces of dialogue and exchange of knowledge between young people around the world (YouthLACIGF).
  • Improvement in the ability to run capacity building programmes on IG.

Which are the activities planned for 2017.

We are working to make an Open Call for Papers, written by young people, on Internet-related issues (analysis, essays, etc). This initiative will culminate in a book of articles promoting our work on different topics. We are working to make our organization global, which will also translate to deploying capacity-building programmes in other regions, like Africa or Asia, in partnership with other organizations.

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Call for Application
Find our more about the programme 

Categories
Beyond the Net Community Projects Growing the Internet

Tiflolibros digital library for visually impaired in Latin America awarded by UNESCO

Last November in Buenos Aires during the first LAC Regional Internet and Development Dialogue, we had the opportunity to listen to Pablo Lecuona talking about his organisation Tiflonexos.

Tiflonexos is a non-profit that works for the integration of visually impaired people through the creation of an online collaborative free-access library called Tiflolibros. We got to know the organisation in 2014 when they applied for a Community grant through Internet Society. So Nancy Quiros and myself decided to visit their converted apartment in Avenida Corrientes.

Tiflolibros  was created in 1999 by a group of blind friends who wanted to use the power of the Internet to exchange their digital books and widen their access to culture and education. Today it is run by a team of 15 and the library has grown to 52.200 digital books in Spanish available for more than 8.000 members with severe disabilities all over the world.

The Organization contributed to a favourable reform of Argentina’s copyright law in 2007, which was followed by other Latin American countries. On December 2016, they received the UNESCO Prize for Digital Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities.

Pablo Lecuona, founder and director, summarizes his vision of the future in the following points:

  • Increase the use of the library for educational purposes by converting the school books into digital version and training the teachers
  • Reach underserved areas of Latin America where there is less Internet access. And maybe spread to other languages as well
  • Be financially sustainable. At the moment Tiflolibros is depending on donations and grants to get to the end of the month

Braille menu printing for local restaurants is an extra source of revenue for the organisation.

So how can we all make a difference? In my view it all starts with being more aware of the issues and the challenges. 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired globally. That is more than the whole of Brazil! For example, the Marrakech VIP Treaty made a big difference for the visually impaired in relation to copyright. The Treaty basically requires “Contracting Parties to introduce a standard set of limitations and exceptions to copyright rules in order to permit reproduction, distribution and making available of published works in formats designed to be accessible to visually impaired people, and to permit exchange of these works across borders by organizations that serve those beneficiaries.

When asking Pablo what he would like to change, he said: “80 parties or countries have signed the Treaty but currently only 25 countries or parties have ratified or accessed the Treaty. To facilitate the exchange of knowledge and to enable the creation of equal opportunities we need more countries to sign on.”

For sighted people, it is sometimes difficult to understand the challenges you face as a visually impaired. Personally I was faced with this issue last year when my husband suffered a temporary but severe diplopia (double sight). This lasted for about two months and it was enough to realise that good sight is taken for granted.

Thanks to the Internet a lot of things have been made easier for visually impaired. They can listen to incoming messages and dictate the reply to their phone. They can feel much more independent reading books and working on a computer, but they constantly need to learn new skills.

Tiflolibros offers also technical support and a discussion group where users can join to share their experience and ideas.  We express our appreciation to the project team for their outstanding efforts in giving a better chance to education and social inclusion to impaired people.

It’s not only about the access to the Internet and the library, it is what people can really do and how they can change their lives. It’s all about creating equal opportunities!

The story in their own voices

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If you like this story please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project.

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $30,000 USD.

Find out more

Beyond the Net Funding Programme

Categories
Beyond the Net Community Networks Community Projects Development Technology

Turning best practice into capacity building for community networks development

Image: net4all team from left to right: Roger Pueyo, Laia Sucarrats, Roger Baig, Ramon Roca and Leandro Navarro.

Beyond the Net Journal: Spain Catalonia Chapter #1 Episode

The purpose of net4all – Net for All – is to develop a set of capacity building materials for training people in the different aspects of development and sustainability in community networking infrastructures using technologies such as wifi and fibre. Particular attention will be focused on the needs of under-served communities and developing regions.

While producing these materials, net4all will benefit from the ten years experience of Guifi.net , a free and neutral crowdsourced network based on a commons model, currently accounting for more than 30.000 working nodes. In 2015, Guifi received the European Commission Broadband Award for its innovative model of financing business and investment.

I asked Roger Baig, computer science engineer and net4all researcher, to help us understand how they are capturing the “lesson learned” by a local project to enhance the community networks of the future Internet.

Which solutions will the project provide and how will they be implemented?

The innovative aspect of this proposal is using the international knowledge gathered by Guifi.net to deliver a comprehensive capacity building kit. net4all is following an incremental and iterative methodology, combining the production phases with on-site seminars. In the seminars, we will present the outcomes of the production phases to date and gather input for the following ones. The training materials will be shared publicly, allowing others to learn from our process of building infrastructure, and creating the right conditions to make them self-sustainable.

The project, coordinated by the Internet Society Catalonia Chapter, is divided in two one-year phases. The first phase, which is currently funded by Beyond the Net, comprises:

  • 9 months of materials development (documents, slides, videos, training materials, and brochures)
  • On-site seminar in South Africa, in collaboration with the project “Upgrading Zenzeleni Networks in Mankosi” – also funded by Beyond the Net
  • Second round of materials development taken from the seminar experience.

What motivated your Chapter to take this initiative?

We feel it’s important to review what Guifi.net has done, and collaborate with a successful local initiative. Through this exercise, we expect to identify the success factors and to share them afterwards, but also to explore new challenges and opportunities for the future. The ultimate goal of net4all is to contribute to the replicability of a successful project.

How is this project a great opportunity?

The support of Internet Society allows us to promote the Guifi.net experience worldwide. Community networks empower people to extend the Internet and they can play a key role in reducing the digital divide. Success stories such as Guifi.net demonstrate they can be sustainable and compete on prices and services with the traditional telecoms, as well as positively effecting the local labor market and users’ sovereignty.

How will the project contribute to Internet Society’s mission?

The Internet Society’s mission is to “to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world”. Community networks are an emerging model for extending the Internet outside the dominant market logic which has led to the current digital exclusion. Proper documentation of success stories like guifi.net is a key element in enabling people to successfully undertake their own projects.

How can people engage with your Chapter and learn more about the project?

Through the Chapter’s website and its mailing list.

Share this story

If you like this story, please share it with your friends. That would tremendously help in spreading the word and raising the visibility of this project. Help more people understand how the Internet can change lives.

We are interested in your project

We are looking for new ideas from people all over the world on how to make your community better using the Internet. Internet Society “Beyond the Net Funding Programme” funds projects up to $ 30.000 USD.

Applications are Now Open.

Find our more about the programme