MAY 5, 2007
 (STAR) By Ramon Tuazon - Health protocols in treating tuberculosis and pneumonia, preventing diarrhea and parasitism — these are a few of the topics of the interactive multimedia materials (in CD-ROM) produced by out-of-school youths and barangay health workers in Barangay Payatas, Quezon City.

The CDs were the outputs of the training on Content Development for Multimedia under the e-Knowledge Public Domain Project supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The training was held last March 5-30.

The training program enabled the participants to produce information tools on priority health concerns of the community while at the same time learn the basics of computing.

Here are some of their comments after the training:

"Because we are now in the computer age, dapat computer-literate na tayo… upang mapabilis ang trabaho (In today’s computer-age, it is important to be computer literate… to make work faster)."

"Dahil dito nalalaman natin… ang tungkol sa pag-research, pakikipag-communicate sa tao kahit malayo siya, mailathala ang mga gustong ipahayag (Computers enable us to research, communicate with people in distant places, and disseminate information)."

"Natutuhan ko ang maraming gamit ng computer at natutunan ko yung mga sakit (I learned the many uses of the computer and I learned how to access health information)."

"Kailangang turuan ng paggamit ng computer para magawan ng solusyon ang pangangailangan ng impormasyon para panlaban sa sakit na kumakalat (We have to be computer-literate so we can get information [from the Internet] on how to prevent communicable diseases)."

Barangay Payatas is the most densely populated urban poor village in the country with over 200,000 people. About 80 percent of the residents are informal settlers from all over the country. Majority of the residents eke a living as scavengers, scrap dealers, hawkers, vendors, and laborers. The village is near the Payatas dumpsite, a 15-hectare open pit, the biggest and oldest operating open dumpsite in Metro Manila.

As the project name implies, the e-Knowledge Public Domain (eKPD) Project seeks to promote greater access to public domain information particularly on priority development areas such as health, small business, basic education, and the environment.

The pilot project, which started in late 2006, prioritizes public health, including emergency and disaster management.

The eKPD Project has two components. The first component involves the development of a predominantly text-based website. Information is sourced from public domain and open content/source information.

The second phase involves the development of interactive multimedia materials developed with community participation. Community-based A unique feature of the project is it is community-based. Community members help identify development issues and concerns in their locality which need information, education and communication (IEC) interventions.

Selected community members are given ICT literacy training, which covers not only the use of computers but content development as well.

"Content development is usually the missing element in ICT programs which tend to focus on equipment acquisition and skills training" says Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid, who chairs the UNESCO National Commission’s communication committee, as she rationalizes why the project focuses on content development.

Even the two previous World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) held in 2003 and 2005 emphasized the need to address the "content gap" in ICT programs.

Dr. Emmanuel Lallana, former CICT commissioner and now the chief executive of IdeaCorp Inc., believes that members of the Payatas community should be equipped with content development and computer-literacy skills to be able to produce their own teaching-learning materials.

"We have to remove intermediaries and put the community at the forefront. It is not easy but we need to use ICT to train them to communicate because it is them who can best express themselves," he says.

To prepare their interactive materials, the out-of-school youths and barangay health workers conducted a rapid appraisal of the health situation in their community.

They also documented actual health cases and gathered latest health statistics from the community health center. They interviewed local health officials, parents, and other community members.

According to Liza Azarcon of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, the CDs produced will be reviewed and enhanced and can eventually be used as stand-alone IEC materials in the community.

"The materials will have greater impact on the Payatas residents as they use local context and color," Azarcon adds.

Parts of the CD materials (both text and visuals) will be integrated in the e-Knowledge Public Domain website and professionally produced CD materials. Framework Earlier, the project also developed a Digital Content Development Framework, which aims to give parameters in preparing digital materials on diverse development areas.

According to Braid, the framework subscribes to the "constructivist" approach, which provides that people learn through a continuing process of constructing, interpreting, and modifying their representations of reality based on their own experiences.

The CD materials to be produced by the project will be shared with about 100 community e-centers (also called tele-centers in other countries) established by the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) in various poor municipalities nationwide. Several NGOs have also established their own community e-centers.

In addition to Payatas, the project is also being pilot-tested in Eastern Visayas through the Regional Electronic Access to Communication for Health (REACH-EV).

The REACH-EV serves as an electronic databank on health emergency management information in Eastern Visayas. It’s a "one-stop shop" that provides basic data services such as Web browsing, e-mail and SMS, and serves as a databank on hazards and disasters in the region.

It will facilitate electronic exchange among the eight provinces and the different municipalities in the region.

REACH-EV is also envisioned to be a library for information materials on various formats on health emergencies and disasters and will also serve as a venue for ICT learning for health workers and community members.

The eKPD Project is co-managed by the CICT, Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication, and Intel Microelectronics.

The project managers believe that they have developed a model in the use of ICT for development that emphasizes content as the most critical element. They also hope that the pilot projects can be scaled up in other depressed communities in the near future.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved