In nations all over the world, from the richest to the poorest, a familiar argument is taking place: How much help do we give our neediest residents and what kind of help should it be?
It’s a question that pops up everywhere—in presidential elections, debates about the global economic crisis, and in discussions about food security. Governments are constantly in search of that elusive formula.
One country that’s come up with a potential solution is the Dominican Republic. Not only has this government devoted substantial resources to helping people deal with the problems they face, it’s giving them the tools they need to take control of their own lives and destinies.
The Dominican Republic’s Community Technology Center (CTC) program is at the heart of its strategy to empower people and help them overcome problems such as poverty, unemployment, and poor health. These centers (87 in all and more on the way) provide all residents with free access to computers, the Internet, and training—everything they need to take advantage of the benefits of 21st century technology.
Now all Dominicans can come to a center and get all the access, training, and one-on-one assistance they need to find better jobs, start new businesses, and get knowledge to improve their health and living conditions..
There are programs directed toward women, disabled people, immigrants—anyone who’s traditionally been left out of the digital age.
But CTCs aren’t just about computers and Internet access. They’re about community. People hold meetings, cultural events, weddings, and family gatherings there. Each one has a radio station that offers essential health information and educational programming.
All this is why we’ve chosen to give the CTC program the 2012 Access to Learning Award, which recognizes organizations outside the United States that are leading the way in providing full access to technology to those most in need.
Each year when we choose the recipient of this award, I’m amazed at the incredible ways these organizations are using the power of technology. This year is no exception.
Please take a few minutes to watch our video about the groundbreaking work going on in the Dominican Republic.