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Certificate of Commendation for the Non-formal Educator Category

Reducing the Digital Divide through Innovative After-school Programmes
Computer Training Center, Shanghai Children Palace, Shanghai, China

The digital divide is a major concern for governments and educational institutions. To bridge the divide, the Computer Training Centre of the Shanghai Children Palace in the People's Republic of China designed an after-school programme for children aged 6 to 16 years old. With the support of Intel? Learn programme, 550 children, of whom 50 have learning difficulties, were offered 30 hours of training in using a variety of software including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Paint. They also learned to navigate the internet, use blogs and other online tools and resources as one way to build their critical thinking capability and other skills to boost their future employability.

With their new found skills and knowledge, the children worked together to design projects to solve problems. They produced stamps, posters, signs, bookmarks on the computers. One group of five children, including two with intellectual disabilities, designed a presentation to introduce Shanghai's public facilities to participants for the Special Olympics. Another group designed new games for children with intellectual disabilities because most games were not suitable for these special children. A set of bookmarks designed by another group was selected by the Shanghai Olympic Organization to be reproduced as a souvenir for the Olympic Games. Working with children from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Lasha, a virtual community was created to enable the children to share information and communicate online. One feature was a video that links the three cities and allows the children to introduce their online friends to their hometowns.

These after-school activities boosted the children's interests in gaining ICT skills and provided opportunities for them to work together to solve real life problems. Their self confidence and social awareness grew as a result. Ideally, more after-school education centres will be established in China, and they can be linked up to help more children collaborate and reduce the digital divide.