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Establishment of a Community Media Centre for the Talas Region - Kyrgyz Republic

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Rural communities of such small countries as Kyrgyzstan often undergo a shortage in information that is relevant for improving their living standards and eradicating poverty. Such shortage is due to insufficient ICT infrastructures and by the increasing digital divide. However, the country intends to join the world knowledge society by creating a Community Media Centre (CMC) intended to 'include the excluded'. One of the main conditions to raise the capacity of disadvantaged people in the field of ICT is to promote establishment of a multimedia centre including a community radio station and a community telecentre. Although the region is mostly mountainous, it remains suitable for FM broadcasting. The recent years have witnessed progress of ICTs in the country, together with the development of an appropriate legislation and a high educational level. But this did not noticeably affect the rural areas, where the majority of the population lives. Remote areas residents do not have PCs and other access to modern information technologies. In some regions, there are even no local electronic mass media. The Talas province is one of them. Located on the border with Kazakhstan, Talas was selected as the first venue for the establishment of a community multimedia centre, since it is one of the most disadvantaged as well as one of the politically stable regions in the country. The venue where the project will be implemented is the Talas State University, which includes four faculties: the Faculty of Economy and Ecology, the Pedagogical Faculty, the Faculty of Philology and the Technological Faculty, attended by some 2500/3000 students, the majority of whom being rural areas residents. Since 2000, the University operates an Internet centre allowing practical classes on the Internet, in addition to its own computer classes. The students, teachers, pupils as well as the citizens of Talas can have access to the Centre. Since KyrgyzTeleCom, one the main ISPs in Kyrgyzstan has its branch in Talas city, there are no problems to access Internet, and the costs of Internet services are the same throughout the country. The administration of the University agreed to take over some operational expenditure, such as power supply, security guards etc. for the future CMC as it does for the Internet centre. Besides, the University will provide premises for the CMC. The University students are the main potential volunteers who will work at the CMC as programme producers, reporters, studio technicians and ICT trainers. As the majority of them are rural residents, they expressed willingness to serve their community's interests. However, the collaboration of outside specialists and experts will also be possible.

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