Tuesday, August 24, 2010

E-Center, SK and the Net Generation

The marriage of Tiger Woods and Swedish beauty Elin Nordegren is finally over. With their divorce, Elin is expected to get at least US$100M. My barber says, “Gone are the days when there was free love in Sweden.”


My barber has been regularly accessing the new interactive website of P-Noy Aquino. Since it was in Pilipino or Tagalog, he decided to use the automatic translation provided by both Google and Babylon.

The English translation for Taong Bayan is Year Town. P-Noy is P-character.


As of this week, the Philippines hosts the 7th largest number of Facebook users in the world. It also has the 6th largest number of Twitter users. Add to that the title of Text Capital of the World, which it has retained for several years, and you would think that the Philippines is cyber-connected nationally, right?

Wrong. About 60% of the internet users in the Philippines are in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in Regions IV-A (CALABARZON) and IV-B (MIMAROPA). In fact, in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), only about 1.5% of their population are Internet users. In the CARAGA Region, and in the Cagayan Valley, about 3.9% and 6.9% of its people, respectively, access the Internet. The other regions have percentages slightly higher than the two mentioned.


My barber likes P-Noy’s plan to set-up an e-Center in every Barangay. This means that the Internet would have to be accessible to residents in every Barangay. In fact, a broadband network would automatically convert the e-Center into an e-Gov, e-Communications (e-mail, VOIP, Video-over IP), e-Library (e-books, audio books, etc.) e-Learning, e-Entertainment (multimedia, movies, games, etc.), e-Commerce, e-Shopping, e-Banking, etc.

He also suggests that the e-Centers be converted into computer labs. We should start a campaign to solicit donations of old desktop and laptop computers from Filipinos abroad and from companies who are replacing the old with new. We should also encourage the donation of old cell phones.

We should also study the viability of mobile computer labs utilizing Philippine-made mini buses carrying a number of mobile computers connected to the Internet. They would also be mobile e-Centers, as described above, roaming from school to school and from Barangay to Barangay based on a certain weekly or daily schedule as needed.


While the e-Center concept represents a move forward, my barber thinks that the plan to abolish the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and/or the Katipunan ng mga Kabataan is a step backward. This is an organization with a mechanism that is the only one of its kind in the world. Established by law, the SK put the Philippines in the forefront of “an emerging movement worldwide to give the youth a direct role in shaping policies and programs.” It provides the youth the opportunity to learn leadership skills and self-governance.

Under Section 13, Article II of the Philippine Constitution, “The State recognizes the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being . . .”

Instead of abolishing the organization that guarantees grassroots representation up to the Barangay level, it should be strengthened to prepare its members to be an informed, enlightened and educated citizenry.

The members all belong to what researcher/author Don Tapscott call the “Net Generation.” They are “digital natives” born to absorb technologies as easily as breathing air. They are automatic members of the first real global generation. They are the leaders of the future. According to Tapscott, to understand the Net Generation is to understand the future.

That’s why MIT media technology professor Nicholas Negroponte launched the One Laptop Per Child campaign. He believes, as my barber and I believe, that every young person has the right to grow up digital.

The SK members should instead be given access to computers and to the Internet as soon as possible. Expose them to new technologies. Connect them to P-Noy directly, to fellow Net Geners, to social networks, to global knowledge. Let them run the e-Centers in the Barangay halls. Let them be the watchdog against corruption. Let them localize global knowledge and globalize local knowledge. They are worth the investment.

Delaying connection of these digital natives to the Net Generation is denying their essential development and positive contribution to a brighter future.

Delaying it could also be preventing the needed miracle or magic wand to turn things around in the shortest time possible.

P-Noy’s best hope for an effective and efficient e-Governance is the country’s Net Generation.

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