Intel Chairman Launches World Ahead Program in Bangladesh to Extend Digital Inclusion to Millions
DHAKA, Bangladesh. — Marking his first visit to Bangladesh, Intel Corporation Chairman Craig Barrett announced one of the most comprehensive deployments to date of the Intel World Ahead Program, a global effort to provide people in developing countries with the benefits of better, faster access to information and communications technology (ICT).
The country-wide implementation of the World Ahead Program is also being launched in collaboration with the government of Bangladesh and includes education initiatives.
Program elements will be driven largely through a new agreement being forged between Intel and Grameen Solutions, a company founded by Muhammad Yunus to promote economic and social development through ICT and to create affordable technology solutions for ordinary people. Under the terms of the agreement, Intel and Grameen will jointly promote and support digital inclusion projects across Bangladesh to improve education, connectivity and access to technology and localized Internet content and software applications.
“By working together, Grameen and Intel can help Bangladesh make rapid progress in providing its citizens with opportunities for economic and social advancement,” said Barrett, who also chairs the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development. “As Professor Yunus has so eloquently stated in the past, these programs are not about giving handouts, but a hand up.”
“All human beings have enormous potential inherent in them,” said Yunus, who was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank in 2006. "The problem is that poor people do not get the opportunity to ever discover their own potential because of the social and economic barriers built around them. I firmly believe that information and communication technology can play a dramatic role in the fight against rural poverty.
“Working with Intel and with support from the government, we’re hoping to do what other emerging countries have done in a shorter time by launching a comprehensive set of programs to address technology accessibility, education, healthcare and connectivity across Bangladesh,” Yunus added. “I am very happy to partner with Intel in achieving our social mission.”
The effort to stimulate rural development in Bangladesh is also supported at the highest levels of government, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology, which will assist with implementation.
“We want to collaborate with Intel to bring technology close to Bangladesh,” said Tapan Chowdhury, Honorable Adviser, Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technology. “The Intel World Ahead program is a holistic program which will help build everything - the right systems tailored to local needs, critical connectivity, and sustainable local capabilities through quality education which will make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.”
Enabling Accessibility, Education, Connectivity and Content
Intel and Grameen will jointly introduce several programs to make it easier for people across Bangladesh to access the vast resources of medical, educational and commercial knowledge on the Internet. Together they will deploy a PC ownership program that will offer low-cost PCs on easy monthly installments and will launch a project to set up telecenters across the country. The telecenters will enable employment opportunities for rural citizens to offer services such as Internet access, photocopying, printing and PC usage for e-government and e-commerce services. The centers will be financed through micro-loans.
“Micro-credit and ICT both have a common capacity – the capacity to empower poor people,” Yunus said.
Plans are already underway for Intel and Grameen to make the Intel-powered Classmate PC more available to students. An affordable, full-featured student laptop, the Classmate PC is seen as well suited to promoting project-based learning in primary schools.
“Education is vital in developing a skilled workforce,” said Barrett, noting that Intel has also committed to donate approximately 1,000 computers to schools over 3 years. Intel will work with the government to implement this program and will donate enough PCs next year to set up a PC lab in all 64 districts across the country.
With support from Grameen and the Ministry of Education, Intel is developing plans to launch its education initiatives in Bangladesh, including the Intel® Teach and Intel® Learn programs. The Intel Teach program trains teachers how to integrate technology in the curriculum to enhance classroom learning. The community-based Intel Learn program cultivates technology, critical-thinking and collaboration skills in underserved youths ages 8-16.
Intel also will work with software companies in Bangladesh to develop localized Internet content and software for the government, schools and the telecenters. For example, Intel plans to work with local software companies to introduce Intel’s skoool™ Learning and Teaching Technology. The interactive learning Web site will provide math and science lessons tailored for local needs.
Intel and Grameen plan to collaborate through public and private partnerships on the deployment of WiMAX technology. WiMAX is widely hailed as a cost-effective and efficient way to deliver broadband Internet access to rural communities.
Furthering Intel’s commitment to Bangladesh, the Intel Foundation pledged to donate $50,000 to the Chief Advisor’s Relief and Welfare Fund to help with flood relief. The foundation will also match Intel employee contributions dollar-for-dollar.
During the next 100 days, Barrett will also visit India, China, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America to explore how digital inclusion programs are taking root and creating life-changing opportunities. In addition, as chairman of the U.N. GAID, Barrett will play a leadership role in the Connect Africa summit hosted by the Government of Rwanda, and co-organized by the International Telecommunications Union, the World Bank and the African Union, in Kigali, Rwanda, Oct. 29-30. The summit focuses on mobilizing the human, technical and financial resources needed to close major gaps in Africa’s ICT infrastructure.
Through its World Ahead Program, Intel strives to improve education, healthcare, entrepreneurship and government services in developing countries worldwide by accelerating access to computers, connectivity and localized Internet content. Additional information is available at www.intel.com/changingtheworld and www.intel.com/intel/worldahead.
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