The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Martin Franklin

Closing the Digital Divide in Trinidad and Tobago: the experience of Community-based Learning Centres.

Martin Franklin
Department of Economics,U.W.I., St. Augustine Campus

Roger Hosein
Department of Economics,U.W.I., St. Augustine Campus

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     Last modified: August 1, 2006
     Presentation date: 11/02/2006 4:15 PM in ST Windsor B
     (View Schedule)

The twenty-first century world of information technology faces the challenge of closing the digital divide i.e. the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in the access to, and use of, information technology. Closing this divide poses a greater challenge to small states like Trinidad and Tobago where the presence of the divide was confirmed in 2003. The government of Trinidad and Tobago adopted three initiatives to date in its attempt to close the divide, one of which was the pilot community based learning centre project over the 1999 – 2001 period.

This paper reviews the theoretical link between community-based learning centres and the elimination of the digital divide prior to presenting the results of an assessment of the pilot project . The paper concludes with recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of community-based learning centres in the country. Some of these recommendations are already incorporated in the country’s National ICT Plan. Accordingly, the paper argues that the country’s government must intensify efforts at closing the broader social and economic divides that give rise to the digital divide, and move quickly to add the leadership and capacity required to fast track the implementation of the National ICT Plan.

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