"Digital Opportunity, A Dream Come True" 2007 Press Conference on the Achievements of the Digital Opportunity Centers
Today (August 27), the Ministry of Education (MOE) held the '2007 Press Conference on the Results Achieved by DOCs'. This press conference showcased the results achieved by the program over the last two years and the joint efforts that have been made by all circles of the society as well as people living in remote areas. At the conference, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung was invited to interact with people living in remote areas via video conferencing. In addition, there was an exhibition area with displays on the assistance given to remote areas in terms of education, culture and industry and the changes that have been brought about by DOCs. This exhibition clearly demonstrated the results the government has achieved in providing people living in remote areas with a convenient digital environment. This exhibition also displayed the success the government has had in narrowing the digital divide between urban and rural areas.
Creating digital opportunities in remote areas; caring for disadvantaged groups of society
Premier Chang noted, "It has been one of the government's priorities to care for the people living in remote areas and disadvantaged groups so they can share with other groups of people the fruit of progress and enjoy all the services provided by the government regardless of their locations." Sponsored by MOE, DOCs set up in remote areas in recent years have made considerable contributions to information application services in remote areas. According to a 2006 survey by the Research, Development and Evaluation Commission on the digital divide between urban and rural areas, rural areas made a 4%-8% improvement in terms of the percentages of the population using computers and accessing the internet, the percentage of all households using information facilities, the percentage of all households in remote areas with web access, and the country's overall digital performance. In terms of the country's overall digital performance, very remote areas scored 28.9 points in 2006, as opposed to 24.9 points in 2005. Less remote areas scored 33.0 points in 2006, compared to 30.5 points in 2005. Results of the survey indicate that the establishment of DOCs have considerably lifted digital and internet performance in remote areas.
In terms of the country's overall digital performance, very remote areas scored 28.9 points in 2006, as opposed to 24.9 points in 2005. Less remote areas scored 33.0 points in 2006, compared to 30.5 points in 2005.
Electronic technology; making a breakthrough
In its third year, the Program has set up 61 DOCs in 58 remote areas in 13 counties/cities including Miaoli, Nantou, Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Yilan, Penghu and Kinmen. This coverage accounts for 35% of the 168 remote areas across the country and serves about 160,000 persons. In the past year, about 24,800 persons completed information application courses offered by DOCs, with as many as 113,000 persons using DOC computers and facilities and 18,700 schoolchildren receiving after-school care at DOCs.
Digital opportunities bring much hope to remote areas
The establishment of DOCs is one of the government's key policies in narrowing the digital divide between urban and rural areas. As far as community residents are concerned, this policy makes people's dreams come true. The head of the MOE computer center Yang Zheng-hong notes, "In the past, due to space, time and manpower constraints, people living in remote areas lagged behind those living in urban areas in obtaining and applying living, studying and employment information. Now, with the help of DOCs, people living in remote areas are able to use digital environments to carry out vocational training, provide schoolchildren with after-school care and facilitate industrial development. Moreover, life-related information is made available to people living in remote areas, which has lifted industrial competitiveness."
Digital opportunity, a dream come true
Communities have varied choices in developing digital opportunities. They could be multi-faceted, extended services that encompass the economy, culture, education and care for the community. With participation from community residents, sustainable operation of DOCs can be achieved so as to continue providing digital services to the beautiful island of Taiwan, creating digital opportunities.
DOCs narrow the divide between urban and rural areas and establish a communication channel with the world so that we have a little more competitiveness and ability to make our dream come true. Hope is in our hearts. Whether we are located in urban or rural areas, we believe as long as we work hard, we can make our dreams come true.
Investments from the private sector enable sustainable operation of DOCs
Input of government resources is only the beginning of establishing and operating DOCs. It is the response and support from community residents and various circles of the society that is essential to the sustainable operation of DOCs. He Neng-yu, CEO of Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation, a sponsor of the Program that strives to grow with DOCs, said: "The Foundation will adopt four DOCs, in an effort to help fund their essential yearly operating expenses and infuse digital vitality and care into the communities. In future, we hope remote areas can communicate unique local cultures or industries to urban areas and the world through the resources provided by DOCs via computers and the internet."
MOE indicates, in addition to the Foundation, in over two years many private firms and institutions have donated software, online learning resources or provided discounted services to DOCs for their use. These firms and institutions include Chunghwa Telecom, HyWeb, Edvance Integrated Marketing Company Ltd, CMC Cultural & Educational Foundation for Indigenous Peoples, HiKids, Microsoft Taiwan, HP Taiwan, IBM Taiwan, Ladder, Knoya Digital Education and TVBS Care for Taiwan Cultural & Educational Foundation. Digital care resources raised so far are worth roughly NT$280 million, a vital source of support for the growth of DOCs.
Narrowing the digital divide between urban and rural areas requires long-term efforts by the government, public-service groups, industry, volunteer teams and community organizations. Meantime, independent, sustainable local operating teams need to be formed. With the joint efforts of the general public, we believe residents across Taiwan will be able to enjoy a divide-free, zero-distance information application environment, opportunities and abilities.