knowledge centrum

A resource on information or knowledge useful for making strategic decisions in development issues. Features conferences, fora, best practices or communication strategies that work, and in depth researches on communication.

Online Video Conferencing on Digital Divide: The Forum


The Second Philippine Communication Centrum Forum on Development Changes

in cooperation with the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication and the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines and Partnership with MosCom, Inc. and CITEM

A Joint Undertaking of Philippine Communication Centrum, UNESCO and the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication In support of the UNESCO Medium Term Strategy for Asia and the Pacific In partnership with MosCom Inc. and CITEM February 14, 2003, 8:00am to 12:00 noon, World Trade Center Manila, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City

Concept Paper

Technology is a tool for growth and development. The 20th century's unprecedented gains in advancing human development and eradicating poverty came largely from technological breakthroughs: Mortality rates began to decline rapidly in Asia, Africa and Latin America because of medical technologies - antibiotics and vaccines.

Undernutrition was reduced in South Asia from around 40% in the 1970s to 23% in 1997 and the end of chronic famine was made possible by technological breakthroughs in plant breeding, fertilizers and pesticides in the 1960s that doubled world cereal yields.

Human Development Report 2001, UNDP

The September 2000 United Nations Millennium Summit, the Global Human Development Reports over the last two years, and the resulting UNESCO Medium Term Strategy for the Asia Pacific region all point to the importance of developing information and communication technology - bridging the digital divide - in achieving the goal of halving the incidence of poverty by the year 2015. As UNESCO correctly points out "for many peoples and nations" in Asia and the Pacific "those without ICT suffer as their access to new knowledge decline, their income-generating skills become outmoded, and their ability to compete in a globalizing environment diminishes.

The capacity of nations to generate knowledge through scientific research and cultural production, to transmit it by formal, informal, initial or continuing education and to share it through the media and information systems varies considerably between and within countries. The disparities combined with the developmental gap are more likely to produce new forms of exclusion and marginalization. The most important challenge for UNESCO in the region is to reach the unreached (e.g. the poor and illiterate, women and those living in rural and remote areas and with disabilities) and to include the excluded in its efforts to create an information society for all.

Culture Section Regional Strategy/ UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy for Asia Pacific

The American Library Association (ALA) Office for Information Technology Policy defines digital divide as the differences (1) in access to information through the internet, and to other information technologies and services, and (2) in the skills, knowledge and abilities to use information, the internet, and other technologies. These differences may be due to geography, race, economic status, gender and physical ability.

APO Study on the Digital Divide / Country Paper on the Philippines.

William T. Torres, Ph.D.

Here in the Philippines, among the key manifestations of the digital divide, as noted by Dr. William Torres in a recent presentation to the Asian Productivity Organization, include these facts:

  • As of December 2000, only 44 % of installed fixed lines - 3.1 million out of 6.9 million phones have been subscribed, reflecting "the sad fact that most Filipino families cannot afford telephone service, even if this is available". Add to this: almost half of the total phone lines and subscribers remain concentrated in Metro Manila, and of nearly 42,000 barangays, only 1 in 4 have telephones, and only 14 in every 100 households have fixed phone lines.
  • On the seemingly 'positive' side, the estimated 8.4 mobile phone subscribers per 100 Filipinos is more than double the subscription rate for fixed lines in 2000, and today there are more than 12 million subscribers mobile phone users. Also, the Philippines stands as the global leader in SMS (Short Message Service) communications, with the average Filipino sending some 280 text messages per month, while the world average is 35 SMS per subscriber per month.
  • As of 2000, only 2.7% of households have PCs and that the number of Internet users is only about 1.5 million - a penetration rate of only about 2% of the more than 75 million Filipinos. The predicament is further underlined by "a tremendous lack of knowledge and skills on how to use the Internet and how to make productive use of the vast amount of information, applications and services available on the World Wide Web. There are also not enough affordable opportunities to acquire these knowledge and skills."
  • In schools and in offices where Internet access may be made available, users can only afford a few hours per month. Students and teachers outside Metro Manila are particularly disadvantaged because telephone and PC penetration rates are low in their areas. Dr. Torres goes on to report that "very few schools can afford high-bandwidth types of services (DSL's or digital subscriber lines) and are thus unable to put up networked facilities that can be shared by more students and teachers.
  • In terms of the impact of the digital divide in the development of human resources, even with some 600 private and public schools offering ICT-related programs, Dr. Torres notes that "the shortage of qualified teachers, inadequate ICT laboratories and poorly stocked libraries, few private institutions and even fewer public schools can claim to having qualified graduates who are ready to meet the manpower requirements of business and industry."

Against this backdrop, developments and initiatives in both the government and private sectors have taken place in recent years to address the digital divide, not least among them the deregulation of the telecommunications industry, alongside efforts towards the promotion of e-commerce, e-governance, and e-services.

The effort is spearheaded by such inter-agency and multi-sectoral mechanisms as the Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (ITECC), which has rightly set down a 5-point a national ICT strategy. The ITECC aimed at: (1) addressing the development of ICT professionals and ICT-enabled knowledge workers; (2) focusing on a promising business niche - e-services; (3) implementing e-governance more aggressively; (4) creating a conducive environment for business; and (5) building up its national information infrastructure.

Project Overview

The foregoing environment considered, the Philippine Communication Centrum (PCCF) in coordination with the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication (AIJC), and Mosaic Communications, Inc. (MosCom) propose to help further broaden public awareness and understanding about the various dimensions of the digital divide. and how the Philippines is moving to narrow the gap. More importantly, PCCF, AIJC and MosCom aim to develop and employ ICT to face the challenge of poverty. This, primarily may be done by a concerted effort of the Centrum and the information technology industry working together to make ordinary citizens specially in the rural areas aware and familiar about the impact of information technology in their daily lives.

The 2nd Philippine Communication Centrum Forum on Development Issues is proposed to be held simultaneous with the E-Service Fair being organized by the Department of Trade and Industry's Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) in February 2003.

The Forum will focus on emerging best practices and initiatives in the Philippines that clearly show potential for significantly promoting good governance, more efficient and successful businesses, and ultimately helping ease poverty.

This forum will have as its goal, a link towards a citizen-centric information and communication technology industry.

A real-time video teleconference and web cast will highlight the round table forum. It will enable select speakers and sectors outside of Metro Manila to participate in the forum through the facilities of Mosaic Communications, with the forum and exhibit presented on line at the Centrum's virtual museum at The event will spotlight such elements as:

  • E-Governance to implement the delivery of better government services to Filipinos thru the use of the Internet/WWW and innovative business mechanisms like the highly successful enterprise;
  • The establishment of community-based, Internet-linked TeleCenters allowing students, teachers, government workers, employees of local SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to accomplish their ICT-related work sharing resources that would otherwise be unavailable;
  • Development of content and services and sharing them, including application development software tools and a host of other software such as content management software;
  • Video and audio conferencing, video streaming services enabling both individuals and institutions to reach out to the provinces;
  • ICT-enhanced learning environments that empower both the teacher and the students through programs and e-learning platforms that can be shared among educational institutions.


At the end of the event, it is hoped that :

  • The 'best practices' portrayed and highlighted in the Forum will serve as model approaches and initiatives that can be replicated in other urban and rural settings in the Philippines;
  • The Forum may make the private and government sectors more specifically the local government units aware of the importance of ICT in fighting poverty in their respective areas; and
  • The Forum will challenge both the private and government sectors to create their systematic and sustained advocacy work plans for the implementation of the ICT.

Round-Table Forum Elements

The Forum will have speakers and representatives from:

  • The DTI and ITECC representing e-governance;
  • Successful business entities in the information technology to represent e-business;
  • Institutions who currently have distance learning in their curriculum as sample for e-learning;
  • ISP providers who have successfully paved the way and are the frontrunners toward bridging the digital divide as illustrations for e-applications;
  • The judiciary who can illustrate the importance of ICT in the application and use of the law as representative for e-legal.

One or two of the speakers and/or sectors in the forum will be linked via Mosaic Communications satellite video-conferencing facilities. Simultaneous conference links will be done in three key areas outside of Metro-Manila : In North Luzon, it will be in Baguio; Cebu will be the site in Visayas; and for Mindanao, video-conferencing will be link in Davao.

Round-Table Forum Participants

The round-table forum will be participated-in by invited guests from various sectors, to wit:

  • representatives from the government specifically the regional and local levels;
  • students
  • ITC related business i.e. hardware, software, and telecommunications;
  • non - government organizations (NGOs),
  • media practitioners
  • funding agencies
  • CITEM E-Service Fair exhibitors