Bhutan and Laos are undergoing a technological revolution concurrent with systemic political and economic changes and bridging the digital divide is seen as the main concern for the countries in the coming decades. In some regions, there still exists a huge digital gap between communities of urban and rural areas. This gap is mainly faced by the rural communities due to lack of equipment and availability of ICT professionals with little or no exposure to IT to the extent of not being able to operate even simple desktop computers. That gap has been further exacerbated with the COVID-19 pandemic situation. To address this gap, one of the areas is to equip the schools and Universities in those communities with digital literacy, so that they will be able to troubleshoot and maintain their own laptop/computer and simple network. Along with digital literacy, securing the information is also very important and considered as one of the main targets. Without addressing these security issues, many systems, devices, and networks become vulnerable to the potential attacks. The target of this project is to narrow the gap and identify the users who are not fully exposed to the benefits of the technology. The digital divide covers a broad range of factors that includes ICT human capital development and infrastructure development. The rapid rise of evolutionary as well as paradigm shifts in ICT technologies has led to improving societal well-being resulting in a need to constantly upgrade ICT skills to keep pace with technological advancements.
This project covers the involvement of females which become crucial and important in the technological field and they should be encouraged to drive and develop ICT in their own countries. Both males and females have become equally necessitates human resources with ICT know-how to fully exploit and harness technological advances. This is to encourage females and address the gender imbalance in the advanced field of ICT. This proposal is to bridge the digital divide beginning from the selected remote schools, universities and if possible few from local communities.
This project aims to enhance and to strengthen the ICT human resource capacity of both males and females (Females will consist of 40% of the total participants) in Bhutan and Laos especially focused on the targeted audience ranging from remote schools and university colleges to few communities if any. The project will be carried out using the "Train the Trainer" (TTT) model for long-term sustainability. The key areas of specialization to be covered will becomputer networking, cyber and network security. Furthermore, this will also provide an avenue to exchange and share ideas and experience among the two countries through the available resources. Those services can be made available with the common platform.
The Office of the Vice Chancellor and National University of Laos are connected to the Druk Research and Education Network (DrukREN) and Lao Education and Research Network (LERNet) respectively providing a platform to exchange and undertake research and collaborate on the specific IT areas between the countries. To improve the bridging of digital divide, it is expected that the two countries (Bhutan and Laos) will exchange ideas and experience during and after this project period which will play a crucial role for the continuity of the collaboration. For this purpose, a specific platform will be instituted and built either by using open source or commercial that will have access to participants from both countries. Moreover, participants, especiallyfemales will be encouraged to prepare course contents or share their experience such as lecture, presentation, discussion, etc. and upload on to the platform. The participants will be divided into three groups - Target group 1, they will be advanced or intermediate users with prior knowledge in network, Target group 2 will consist of users with intermediate or some experience in network and system whereas the last group, the Target group 3 will consist of basic users.