Fall-Winter 2002-2003

Municipal and Civic Internet Use in Togliatti
by V.V. Efrosinin

There are three stages in the emergence and development of municipal and civic Internet use in Togliatti, located 1,000 kilometers southeast of Moscow on the Volga River.

Stage One

The first stage began in 1993, when an elective campaign for the State Duma and the Constitutional referendum for the Russian Federation was held.  The first web site was created to link the districts with the City Administration at that time.  Following the increasing number and use of PCs in the offices of the District and City Administrations, channels linking the City Duma, the Center of Pensions' Payment, and the Togliatti Administration of Internal Affairs were made in 1996.  In that period the Development through Education Fund received a number of computers from the Boston-based East-West Foundation for 20 of the city's schools.

In 1996-1998, a service was developed to provide for municipal educational institutions' needs. A grant from the Eurasia Foundation made it possible to buy five SPARCStations 4 and organize the first servers (WWW, e-mail, ftp, etc.) for the educational sphere. The firm "Is-Tel" was the Internet service provider and made important contributions.

Among the active initiators of Internet access in Togliatti were municipal, copmany, foundation, and education participants: Y.A. Polozov, head of the informational equipment sources of the department of Mayor; A.N. Orlov, head of Is-Tel; Madelyn Rose Hopkins, volunteer at the Development through Education Fund; E.O. Pinskaya, head of the Mediacenter; A.G. Rodionov, the deputy director of the Education department of Administration; N.I. Kulyasova, the head of the District Management of Education department; and M.Y. Nadtochiy, senior lecturer of Togliatti Polytechnical University.

Stage Two

The second stage of the development of Internet in Togliatti took place from 1997 till 1999.  In that period the Development through Education Fund obtained a second grant from the Eurasia Foundation for training educational system administrators.  A new program called "Informatization of education in Togliatti" was developed and implemented with the help of the city's authorities.

The department of Mayor and the "Open Society University"/Soros Foundation signed an agreement for the "creation and development of the informational space for nonprofit organizations in spheres of education, culture and public health." The Development through Education Fund, Samara State University, Togliatti Branch of Samara State Pedagogical University and the City's Policlinic # 2 took an active part in the project.

Through this program participants bought computers, linked their local webs to the city's, and established classes for free access to Internet. In 1998 a major "Civics Education " project involving fifteen city schools undertaking web site development on this theme began with a grant from the National Endowment for Democracy.

Key contributions included Mayor S.F. Zhilkin; the head of one of the departments of Mayor, L.V. Zalamanova; the head of the Education department, L.N. Bednova; head of ITC, A.M. Pinskiy; T.I. Lesnyakova, a teacher of computer science of the gymnasium # 6; and A.L. Sannikov, the head of the Informational Center at Samara State University.

Stage Three

The third stage began in 2000 with the acquisition and installation of equipment bought through funding from the "Open Society University"/Soros Foundation grant.  Activities included establishment of a center for municipal computer services management.  Five free Internet access centers were opened, and all schools were supplied with Internet access with help from commercial Internet service providers such Infopac, High Technologies' Attack, and AIS.T.

Another grant, from the American nonprofit Project Harmony Inc., helped open two access centers, one at the Development through Education Fund, the other at the central city's Tatischev Library.  Regular seminars and training courses for teachers in usage of Internet technologies in professional activities also began, held at the tutorial offices of the Development through Education Fund, Mediacenter, and the Center of Information Technologies.

For supplying and development of the city's educative resources, an association of school webmasters was established.  Annually more than 40 teachers now attend different Internet courses, supported by the programs of the Russian Internet Education Federation and the Internet Access and Training Program (IATP) .

V.V. Efrosinin is Director of the Development Through Education Fund of Togliatti.  This article is edited from the translation provided by J. Kucherova, a volunteer at the Fund.

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