Youth for a More Just Information Society
The “Bridging the Digital Divide” project gives students the opportunity to enrich the proceedings of the World Summit on the Information Society with their perspectives and views. Participants include the Auhof Linz Basket Company.
The World Summit on the Information Society was launched in December 2003 in Geneva, where government delegations, representatives of the private sector, NGOs and experts discussed principles to make the development of Information Society and our knowledge-based world increasingly fair and just. Input by students from Austria—among other countries—is meant to assure that members the generation that will be most directly effected by the conference’s decisions get the opportunity to express their opinions and perspectives. The summit in Geneva also kicked off a long-term initiative organized by Austria’s Ministry of Education. The first concrete effort to emerge from this is “Bridging the Digital Divide,” a school project that is now entering its most intensive phase. It has set up a domain in which students can actively participate in the discussions and written discourse concerning Information Society.
On Wednesday, March 2, organizers and students presented the project at a start-up event staged at the Ars Electronica Center’s SKY Media Loft.
MR Mag. Helmut Stemmer (Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture), Dr. Sirikit Amann (KulturKontakt Austria), Dr. Matthias Traimer (Austrian Federal Chancellery / Media Affairs; Austrian coordinator of WSIS 2005) and Mag. Anton Knierzinger (Education Highway) presented the project.
The Ars Electronica Center is also participating in “Bridging the Digital Divide.” In the words of Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker: “The majority of mankind is still being denied access to modern technologies. This is an alarming situation. The Ars Electronica Festival provided a setting for an intensive confrontation with this problem already in 2002 with the ‘Unplugged’ theme, and we are very pleased to carry on that effort by getting involved in ‘Bridging the Digital Divide.’ This initiative establishes a concrete platform for the younger generation to undertake an encounter with an issue of tremendous importance for the future.”
At the Bridging the Digital Divide start-up event, young people from all over Austria presented projects that will serve as prototypes launching an ongoing encounter with these issues in schools throughout the country. In addition to projects from a school in Graz and one in Vienna, students from the Auhof Commercial College presented the Auhof Linz Basket Company (ABC), a business exercise that has been running successfully since 2000. A group of 11 students who are currently attending the school have organized the project under the direction of Mag. Hedwig Kuthan. This commercial exercise is a way for students to implement theoretical knowledge in actual practice. At the same time, they can improve their English language skills. ABC’s partner company in Zimbabwe, the Binga Craft Center, makes it possible for women of the Tonga tribe to improve their standard of living.
Auhof Commercial College students Melanie Bany from Enns, Daniela Maier from Steyregg and Lisa Tea from Linz (from left to right) present their “Auhof Linz Basket Company” project at the “Bridging the Digital Divide” start-up event at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz.
Photo: Ars Electronica
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Mag. Wolfgang A. Bednarzek MAS
Pressesprecher Ars Electronica