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Partnerships and Participation in Telecommunications for Rural Development:

Exploring What Works and Why

University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario Canada. October 26-27, 1998.

The conference will focus on telecommunication technology for participatory rural development in the Canadian context, but also with an eye to seeing how lessons-learned in Canada might be applied by people in developing countries.

This venture is sponsored by the University of Guelph, Industry Canada, Foundation for International Training, Telecommons Development Group and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Inquiries about further sponsorship are most welcome.

There will be a 3 week online pre-conference from October 1 to 21 followed by 2 days at the University of Guelph on October 26 and 27.

The late Don Snowden played a critical role in the development of the participatory video process through his experiences, first in Fogo Island, Newfoundland, and then the Arctic, India and Africa. This movement spawned many other participatory uses of technology in rural development in Canada and around the world. In our attempts to answer the needs of vast rural areas, Canadians have developed some innovative and enduring approaches to using technology for rural development. Many of the Canadian successes have been transferred successfully to developing country scenarios.

The online pre-conference will provide opportunities to review these past efforts and present some uses of communication technology in rural areas. We envision it covering three main areas.

1) Lessons Learned from Past and Present Participatory Rural Development Strategies - Through the online pre-conference, we will set the Don Snowden legacy into the modern Canadian context of telecommunications. This will involve revisiting some of what we've learned from the past - the Fogo Island experiences, the Challenge for Change program, Farm Radio Forum, etc. - and finding ways to integrate what works with the new potentials offered by rural telecommunications.

2) Current Rural Development Activities Involving Telecommunications & Internet - This will include topics such as Community Access "Telecentres" and Community Media Centres in Canada, Africa, Asia and Latin America; current rural telecommunication improvement initiatives in Canada and developing countries; new ICTs for learning and service (Distance Education, Telemedicine, Professional Development, etc.).

3) Future Activities: Building on Lessons Learned - This is our forum for applying lessons learned to new telecommunications and Internet technologies for rural development.

The face-to-face conference on October 26 and 27 will address some of the potentials of rural telecommunications. It will focus discussion on concerns such as improving rural telecommunications policy to realize "universal service", improving rural telecommunications and internet project planning, and identifying opportunities for collaboration among rural stakeholders.

A wide variety of people with "hands-on" experience in Canada and overseas will be attending to make presentations and participate in the workshops.

Conference cost is $349 (Cdn). Registration information will be made available to interested participants in late May, 1998. Participation in the on-line pre-conference will be free.

The call for participation will be sent out in early June; you are encouraged to request a copy via email or post by contacting Wendelin Galatianos, conference administrative officer, at wgalatia@uoguelph.ca.


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