National IFAP Committee of Eritrea introduces digital libraries to disadvantaged communities
With the commitment to leave no one behind, the newly formed National IFAP Committee of Eritrea worked in cooperation with the Rora Digital Library and the Ministry of Education in Eritrea to increase access to information.
To ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, the project “Information accessibility in remote areas of Eritrea through Digital Libraries" aims to reduce disparities in educational opportunities by providing access to learning materials through digital libraries. Furthermore, the project enriched school curricula with the digital library materials and teacher training for effective use of library resources.
Digital libraries have been created in six regions of Eritrea, targeting 11 boarding schools and 4 public schools with digital library materials. The digital library is composed of a dedicated room equipped with audiovisual material, as well as a projector, wireless speaker, server, router and computer, using solar energy. These newly created library spaces enable learners to access digital lectures, learning materials and other knowledge-based resources. As the IFAP Chair has highlighted during the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) Conference in Buenos Aires on 23 May 2019, the role of libraries is crucial in improving public access to information and knowledge. In her presentation, Ms. Gordon underscored that “People need to understand the societal impact of the technology choices they make”.
This initiative is part of the “Information accessibility in remote areas of Eritrea through Digital Libraries" project and addresses persistent disparities in relation to gender, geography and wealth, particularly at the primary and secondary school levels. The success of the project was achieved thanks to the involvement of the various stakeholders in the implementation process, ranging from website installation, networking, training, network maintenance and computers. The Ministry of Education in Eritrea plays a pivotal role in sensitizing education stakeholders about the importance of libraries and the training of teachers.
The National IFAP Committee of Eritrea Chairperson, Mr Kiflom Michael, highlighted the innovate approach of the project and observed that several policy recommendations have emerged from the progress so far, including:
- Revisions of school policies on the use of mobile technology;
- The use of technology to ensure the integration of digital content, technology and pedagogy into the school environment;
- The use of technology by the Ministry of Education of Eritrea in advancing SDG 4.
The project makes an important contribution in promoting information for development, one of the six IFAP priorities. The National IFAP Committee in Eritrea is playing an essential role in sensitizing governments and communities about the value of information in addressing development issues. IFAP recognizes the transformative role played by information and knowledge across all spheres of human endeavour and is successfully promoting through such innovative initiatives its objective of consolidating inclusive Knowledge Societies for all.
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.