|Chapter 7: Using Networks to Strengthen Telecenters
- As the number of telecenters has increased over the years, so have opportunities for telecenters to band together and form networks. Whether formal or informal, these networks are essential to the continued growth and health of the telecenter movement.
- With these networks, telecenters have the chance to become more sustainable and more valuable to the communities they serve. They will be able to access all kinds of new products, services, and content that will be of value to the communities they serve. Of course, all of this only happens if networks are strong, sustainable, and well organized. There is still a great deal of work to be done to make sure countries around the world have networks like this.
- Training services are a crucial service that almost all telecenter networks should consider offering to their members. Not only do they build human capacity, but they also offer an environment in which personal ties, both as mentoring relationships and as peer linkages, can form and grow. Those personal ties contribute immeasurably to both the strength of the network and the skills of the local telecenter manager.
- New telecenter programs need to think about telecenter networks at the program design stage and to think through how to integrate existing telecenters into new networks. Telecenter networking, partnerships, and work on the overall telecenter ecosystem should not be an afterthought.
7.13. Make It Your Own
Sustainability depends on the commitment and competent management of centers, both at the micro level of a single center, and at the macro level of national and global coordination. One solution that has emerged is the creation of support networks that help new operators get into the field, and support and improve the operations of the existing centers. Creating a national network is a challenging task; some of the ways to help make it happen are:
- If you are a telecenter operator, find out about other telecenters, connect via e-mail or some other way, join any existing network, help to create a national network, learn about how other networks around the world were created, and shape the future of the telecenter movement in your country.