Information Centre at Ago-Are
The Ago-Are Information Centre was set up by OCDN (Oke-Ogun Community Development Network) in Nigeria in collaboration with Pamela McLean in UK as the main part of their efforts to continue the work of the late Peter Adetunji Oyawale.
Background to the Project
The centre opened in May 2003, following much hard work by the OCDN team. A grant from VSO provided three refurbished computers, a photo-copier, a printer, and a second hand generator. The Ago-Are Community helped. They provided space in the main hall of the Community Television Viewing Centre. They provided partitioning, and help, so that an enclosed computer areas and adjoining office could be created. Tables, chairs, benches, shelves and floor coverings were also provided. The community selected two volunteers to be sent for a short training course and then work voluntarily in the centre for three months. One then moved to Lagos and the other brought income into the centre, creating a paying job for herself there.
During the two years it was managed by David Mutua the Ago-Are Information Centre was a focus for computer awareness, ICT training, and some information services.
Trainees often continued to develop their skills by doing voluntary work at the centre - mainly wordprocessing for local individuals and organisations.
While visiting the centre Pamela saw two examples of local businesses calling on the Information Centre to get advice and to employ trained staff.
Outcomes during the IITA,COL and OCDN collaboration have been published by IITA and COL. The emphasis was on providing information for farmers. The project also gave people at Ago-Are a taste of Internet access and other benefits.
What Happened Next
Since the IITA, COL, OCDN two-year project ended, some local people (Pastor David, Mr Timothy Oyawale, and Folabi Sunday) have tried to keep the centre going in whatever ways they could. However they lack the resources of the previous project and struggle to maintain or replace the aging equipment.
Their present dream is to bring Internet connectivity to their community, at least for sending emails. Now that mobile phones have come to Ago-Are they could do this, building on their experiences linking smart phones with PCs.
Dadamac has helped, since the IITA COL OCDN project, mainly by enabling Pastor David and Fola to attend courses at Fantsuam Foundation, by helping the Information Centre to be treated as a kind of satellite of Fantsuam Foundation when possible, and by making some donations to help Fola go online at distant cyber cafes or by phone (there are no cyber cafes in Ago-Are).
The team in Ago-Are continue to share with local schools the knowledge that they gained about ICT.
Pamela McLean was an active member of the OCDN team. When the Information Centre opened Chief Adejumo emailed her a description of the opening ceremony, followed by a video of the event.
She shared this knowledge online through the Voices of the South email list, and this began OCDN's link with COL (Commonwealth of Learning).
She also used the information to start a newsletter about the project (through Kabissa) which she wrote for several years, telling the story of the Information Centre.
Helped by Lorraine Duff she supplied information for the centre on CDs, provided teaching resources, and supported the centre online in various ways. She went for "reality checks and working holidays" in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008. During these visits she was often asked to take part in "computer orientation" sessions (where people get a taste of what computers are and what they can do, rather than having formal training as computer operators). She also did mini-sessions from the Teachers Talking course for local teachers and pupils.
In a yahoo chat with Pamela on December 28th 2010 Fola said "the information centre has been sealed up it is sad to say by the politicians" - the connection dropped before he gave any more details.
Update August 2011
Although the centre remains closed it is re-emerging in a new form, This time it is at Fola's home (AKA the Dadamac outpost) in Ago-Are.