Lifelong learning : The social impact of digital villages as community resource centres on disadvantaged women

Abstract: The overall aim of this research was to enhance the understanding of what affects the social impact of ICT in lifelong learning on disadvantaged women.In contributing to the field of social informatics, this research employs behavioural theories as strategy and analytic possibilities. This research mainly used the Kenyan digital villages as CRCs as settings but did also look beyond such establishments to provide a more solid picture. The studies were located in Kenya with complementary studies in Bolivia, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, and Sweden. The main strategies and methods used were case study, comparative education approaches, and observations and interviewing techniques.The findings suggest that ICT and CRCs have the potential to support disadvantaged women and their lifelong learning. However, the positive social impacts are limited because the arrangement of them generally does not favour vernacular languages, illiterate users, female owners and users, or non-students. In general, the use of ICT was sometimes perceived as forced, which is both a barrier and a stressor in the use of ICT in lifelong learning. It also emerged from the comparative studies that discussions among the participants in the CRCs largely covered issues in respect to 1) family and reproduction and 2) self-esteem, i.e. what settles the matter of the social impact of ICT in lifelong learning depends on change attitude among men and women. With minimal if not zero self-esteem a change that would make the difference or break a woman’s “legendary status quo” in order for a woman to feel that she can reach her goal or ambitions in lifelong learning would be difficult. Hence the lack of self-esteem is a stressor in itself.This research is valuable for stakeholders delving into issues of development and learning using ICTs, not only in Kenya but in a broader, global perspective.