Tuesday, September 20, 2011

ICT in Cambodia: Open source and Localisation

Today I went to the Ministry of Education and Youth and met mister Sok Tha, head office of the ICT office. After spending one month in the country and teaching children how to use computers I was curious to see what is the governmental strategy in terms of new technologies in Education.

After discussing about different ICT scenarios in Peru, France and Spain I was very happy to see the ICT "Master Plan" put in place in 2009 in Cambodia and discover that the team already translated a version of Open Suse in Khmer and is empowering the use of open source technologies in schools and training centers.

While discussing with the young ICT team I saw at what point the localisation is important as they told me that in the beginning they tried to make the Open Office training in English but the teachers were afraid to open a computer that "was talking to them" in a language that they didn't understood. When they start using Khmer OS and software the difference was notable.

I was also happy to notice how much they focus on teacher instruction and that they are actually paying attendants to present what they learned in their own schools. While aiming in this way for an exponential process they also try to create training centers in rural areas and support community members to acquire income-generating skills through video tutorials.

My take-aways after having this discussion and reading the strategy document:
  • The government should focus on providing clear and transparent guidelines for possible computer donations.
  • A first "systemic technology implementation" training should be carried out with the government ICT team.
  • The ministry resources and documents should be organized in a first standardized repository and all existent resources should be identified and re-used. (example translate the Open Educational Platform of Unesco in Khmer and encourage the ICT active teachers to use it).
  • I believe a feasibility should be carried out as soon as possible in order to determine when and how to establish a first National Open University
  • Mobile learning strategies should be considered as part of the ICT strategy as Cambodian young people are more likely mobile internet users. 
  • The quality evaluation is essential so the team should measure on regular basis the impact and identify relevant indicators
  • Example of  good practice as the "m-learning vans" (mobile learning units for isolated areas) should be promoted as part of the communication plan. 

With all this being said I am having high hopes on the future of ICT in Cambodia and I hope contribute to it at least with by helping my one hundred children.

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