Peace-building in Croatia through community technology centres
KISTANJE, CROATIA, 22 November 2004
As a result of access to telecentres set up by ZaMirNET in five rural towns, more than 250 people took part in and received intensive training in computer skills, and 100 plus attended online training focusing on human rights, non-violent communication, e-commerce, and career planning. Access to ICT is a way of fostering new community partnerships and enabling local inhabitants to access previously unavailable information about economic and social opportunities in Croatia and abroad.
At least 100 users applied their newly acquired ICT skills in their search for employment (writing job applications, web-searching for jobs), up-scaling of their private businesses (such as accounting for a shop, and database management of bee hives) or improvement of their current job performance (e.g. statistical analysis of performance at the local police station).
For the majority of telecentre users, the centres became a significant social space for engaging in collaborative learning with their neighbours, particularly those of the other nationalities, with whom they would otherwise have had no direct contact. “During the computer course, we were socialising with other nationalities. We were all colleagues, all in the same position of learning new things and sharing what we know. We would all have coffee together,” recounted a Croat woman. “Now we greet each other in the street. This is my first experience of learning together and it's great. Social events like this didn’t exist before ZaMirNET.”
By the end of 2003, the telecentres were donated to the local communitites with the agreement that the centres would remain open to all community members.
NEWS UPDATE: ZaMirNet told APCNews that as of November 2004, telecentres still continue providing services in four of the communities while just one was unable to reach an agreement for keeping the centres running and distributed the equipment to other local groups.
"Of the four that are still operating, one is still run by ZaMirNET, one is part of the local public library and two have been taken over by newly established local NGOs. All of them are frequently visited and used by different community members," ZaMirNET director Danijela Babic told APCNews.