Connected Lithuania working towards an inclusive knowledge society
The National IFAP Committee of Lithuania promotes information accessibility through the "Connected Lithuania" project.
The project "Connected Lithuania" gives older persons the opportunity to discover and be connected through social networks and the use of the Internet in general. Aware of the need to sensitize older persons on information and communication technologies, "Connected Lithuania" is offering free online information literacy courses in libraries across the country.
The testimony of a retired teacher shows how technology can do to change the lives of older men and women. “I don't want to tell just about everyday life, how I live and where I shop - because I believe there are more important, bigger things. For example, I rediscovered the public library - not only the books there, the wonderful librarians, but also the computer, social networks. It all started when my classmate called and said she had a class meeting but couldn't find me on Facebook," she smiles, recalling her first steps on social networks.
"I can't say I didn't know how to use the computer at all, I knew it, but social networks were not understandable to me. I've heard about virtual friends, but I didn't really know where to find them. But during the training, we learned not only to create our accounts, to make friends, but also to act safely here, to discover the different groups to which we want to belong. It was a great discovery for me," she says.
The project came about as 500 000 Lithuanians are still not using the Internet, as a result of lack digital skills. People living in rural areas, lower-income individuals, less educated, elderly, disabled and the unemployed are the least active internet users. The project "Connected Lithuania", which takes place across the country, targets these individuals and aims to help Lithuanians to discover the Internet and its opportunities and do it in an effective and safe way.
The project, which has been running since March 2018, is gaining momentum in public Internet Access points in public libraries. It is planned to organize 10 000 consulting and training events in two years. In order to train so many people, a digital leader and an e-scouts (volunteers) network has been created. It connects more than 2000 people, including 1200 local librarians, who advise residents.
The project is implemented by the Lithuanian association “Window to future” (“Langas į ateitį”), the Information Society Development Committee, the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, the Ministry of the Interior, the Communications Regulatory Authority and the National IFAP Committee of Lithuania. The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the budget of the Republic of Lithuania.
As it rolls out, the initiative is an important contribution to promoting information accessibility by enhancing opportunities for disadvantaged communities by providing access to information and knowledge.
IFAP supports Member States to integrate open and inclusive solutions for learning with a special focus on marginalized social groups such as persons with disabilities, speakers of lesser-used languages and people living in remote areas.
The Information for All Programme (IFAP) was established in 2001 to provide a platform for international cooperation in the area of access to information and knowledge for the participation of all in the knowledge societies. IFAP is a unique UNESCO intergovernmental programme that focuses on ensuring that all people have access to information they can use to improve their lives. The IFAP Bureau consists of eight Member States nominated by the governing Council. It meets twice a year to appraise, select and approve projects as well as to hold thematic debates on issues of importance for the Programme.