Fall 2005

ICT in the Peace Corps

Before ICT was a priority for the Peace Corps, volunteers recognized the need for ICT training and development in their host communities.  Many of these volunteers provided training in their host countries as a part of their primary projects.  The Peace Corps recognized the impact of ICT programs in developing countries and in 2000, former Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider made ICT a priority for the Peace Corps.  Eventually, ICT became a specialized assignment area for skilled volunteers with degrees or work experience in this field.

Schneider challenged America’s high-tech corporations to assist the Peace Corps’ goal of closing the “digital divide.”  From this came several partnerships, including the AOL Peace Packs program, which provides computers, modems, printers, digital cameras, Internet access and other vital ICT tools for ICT volunteers to use in their host communities.

Peace Corps TECHspert Teams

To better support ICT projects, the Peace Corps established TECHspert teams in all three Peace Corps regions in 2003.  TECHspert team members include host country nationals serving as Peace Corps programming and training staff and Peace Corps staff members working in many sectors, who encourage volunteers to integrate ICT into their primary projects.  Together with volunteers, they develop new ICT integration strategies, ways to apply ICT in the developing world and in Peace Corps programming and training, virtual collaboration techniques, and ways to use radio and television to support their goals.  In October 2003, the three regional TECHspert teams convened for the first time in Romania, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic to organize their strategies, participate in an online virtual workshop to compare strategies, and discuss first-year successes and challenges. TECHsperts share ICT resources, tips and trends with their fellow team members on a regular basis.

ICT Programs by Region

  • Inter-America and the Pacific — Volunteers in the IAP region design ICT curricula, establish computer labs, computerize record keeping and accounting systems, and teach Web site development skills. For example, volunteers in Belize have trained over 3,000 primary and secondary school teachers across the country to operate computers, prepare lesson plans, use the Internet to do research and access information for their lessons, calculate students’ grades, and put together report cards and other school records.
  • Africa — In Africa, volunteers help establish computer labs and organize computerized record keeping and accounting systems. Volunteers in PC/Cameroon, for example, have taught computer troubleshooting skills and used computers for budgeting, launching feasibility studies, credit and database management, and Web page design.
  • Europe, Mediterranean, and Asia — In the EMA region, ICT volunteers have established computer centers and are training their host communities in e-commerce development and Internet research. Volunteers, for example, have led Internet training workshops and designed Web sites to promote tourism and marketing.

A recent statistical compilation finds:

  • Approximately 1,800 Peace Corps volunteers actively promote the use of ICTs in their work.
  • There are 182 ICT volunteers.  50% work in the Inter-America and the Pacific region.
  • 62,325 host-country counterparts and project participants directly benefited from volunteers’ ICT activities in 2004.
  • 1,817 host-country institutions received volunteers’ assistance with ICT integration in 2004.

— from the ICT in the Peace Corps Fact Sheet 2005


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