the digital divide

VLIR-UOS & Close the Gap, a great partnership

The Flemish Interuniversity Council for University Development Cooperation (VLIR-UOS) and Close the Gap are working in close collaboration aiming for better learning outcomes for students in developing countries.

 A unique differentiator of our partnership is the requirement that all projects that are selected to receive refurbished IT equipment must be linked to a socially minded initiative in the community. This guarantees that every member of the community has the opportunity to benefit from a ICT-based education.

 This year, Close the Gap and VLIR-UOS have supported five new projects worldwide.

 First, in Cuba the universities are working in collaboration with the Handicap International programme. Besides receiving themselves computers for their pedagogical schools, the special education schools also received IT equipment for people with disabilities.

 Second, in Ethiopia the Mekelle University has launched a plan in line with the country’s Growth and Transformation Plan to enhance ICT infrastructure in higher education and in the TVET centres (Poly Technique College). Through this project, both the University and the TVET centres have received quality computers, printers and notebooks, which will solve their major problems.

 Third, in Suriname, 2 universities and 2 secondary schools are involved in the “Digital Bridge” project. Their main goals are on the one hand to expand the ICT infrastructure both on campus and in the secondary schools, as they aim for “every child a computer”. On the other hand, the goal is also to provide proper ICT training of the pupils as well as of the teachers.

 Fourth, in Peru the University La Molina (UNALM) is supporting several primary and secondary schools in the poorest areas in the Andes, Amazon Basin and coastal desert. Donating ICT equipment to those schools opens a whole new world for these kids. They now get the opportunity to learn essential ICT skills and get access to new information sources and to qualified digital courseware. In total, 25 schools in very poor regions are equipped with educational technology.

Next to supporting these schools, UNALM is also being provided by extra portable computers.

 Last but not least, the University of Cuenca in Ecuador is working together with Cuenca’s Archdiocesan Curia to support high schools that are located in poor rural areas. Three educational establishments were selected to be the beneficiaries of this project. Besides installing and equipping a computer room, the schools are also provided with ICT training programs, which helps a total of 630 students.