Digital Divide refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and those who do not have an access. Digital divide make a gulf between the people who knows how to use technology and doesn’t know how to use it, educated and uneducated people, modern cities and rural areas, developed areas and non-developed areas, etc.
Possible causes of Digital Divide:
There are several contributors to why digital divide is happening. It includes the differences in income, literacy, age, gender, motivation and ethnicity.
Income- Lack of income is one major causes of digital divide. Areas that do not have enough money to gain access in internet less likely to be inform about modern ICT.
Literacy- ICT is now a vital part of everything, from school to work it is really important. But the problem is, not everyone knows how to use computers and operate it. Most of the time older people doesn’t know how to use it because in their time ICT subjects are not taught in the school.
Age- Age is really a major contributor in digital divide. Younger people are the one who uses technology often and they can benefit from it. For older people because of lack in knowledge about modern technology they are less likely to know and benefit from it.
Motivation- Not everyone finds technology as a comfortable thing to do there are times they thought using it is just a waste of time.
Ethnicity- Different ethnic groups have their own views in the uses of technology, others may find it very helpful but for some it is only a waste of time. Language is included here, most of the time information are written in English and because not everyone can understand English there is already a gap.
The Philippines and the Digital Divide:
Philippines are known for being one of the countries here in Asia with the slowest internet connection. Only 38% of population here in the Philippines have access to the internet. Due to the slow internet connection here in the Philippines the availability of some information are only limited.
Education is the most affected area here in the country. Children that are born rich and studying in well-develop schools have the bigger chance to learn about technology. Because their school provide modern technologies and they can afford it they are likely have the advantage in learning ICT. Children that studying in a public school and cannot afford to buy computers are less likely to have an advance knowledge in ICT.
Urban and rural areas are also affected by digital divide here in the Philippines. Modern cities that have an easy access to the internet are updated to everything and they can learn enough things about information and communication technologies. Rural areas here in the country have less connection because sometimes they are too secluded that signals cannot reach them and the availability is limited.
The Role of Philippine Government in bridging the Digital Divide:
The Department of Science and Technology or DOST project to narrow Digital divide in the country. A solution to bridge the divide was conceptualized last 2014 and it got implemented last year, 2016.
The Juan Konek Free Wi-Fi Internet Access in Public Places Project under the Digital Empowerment Program aims to narrow this divide and eventually eradicate it. DOST targets to provide 7,118 free wi-fi hotspots in 43 major cities and 967 municipalities across the archipelago.
The project aims to service the poor and they design it with user training so it can be use by people who are new to the internet with ease. DOST wants that every Filipino shall have an an access to vital information that they can use and be digitally empowered. More digital people, more informed society, if a lot of people knows how to properly use modern technology it can improve their lives. They can connect to hundreds and thousands of information that make them more knowledgeable.
The Role of Private Sectors in bridging the Digital Divide:
The private sector, through investments and economic activities, plays an important role in bridging the digital divide.
A lot of privately owned companies in the Philippines have projects that can help Filipinos be digitally empowered.
Just like Freenet which enables those without Internet access to browse online for free, PayMaya allows anyone with a Philippine mobile number to have an instant virtual Visa or Mastercard which can immediately be used for online purchases.
“PayMaya Philippines teamed up with Oxfam, an international organization which aims to eradicate global poverty. Their collaborative program aims to educate typhoon victims in Tacloban about financial literacy and the benefits of using mobile money, with the hope of making them self-reliant and financially stable in the future.” (Rappler.com)
Private sectors can be very helpful for bridging the gap in Digital Divide. Companies that are related to ICT can help by bringing internet connection available for everyone. Doing projects that can be beneficial to all and at the same time can be a portal to gain knowledge about ICT and modern technologies. Private sectors can give many Filipinos an opportunity to learn about technological world and be connected to everyone.
-Ainah Jane M. Lebrilla | ABCOMM601 | ICT