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Web Workshop Strives for Social Justice.

  • April 15th, 2007
  • Posted by Jessica McKendry

atelier.jpgA pilot scheme in Europe is making practical steps towards helping information have-nots join in to become a part of the information society.

Jessica McKendry reports from Brussels on a project called Atelier du Web – the web workshop – that has been opened in the city’s poorest neighbourhood.

Laetitia Pottiez, a multi-media mentor at the Atelier du Web, in the inner-city suburb of St Gilles, says the project offers an education to anybody willing to keep up with an increasingly computer-literate society.

She says social justice motivates the scheme, as in a fast-paced world of emerging technologies, computer literacy is a must, and, as the Atelier du Web believes, should be available to everyone.

The clients include students who don’t have a computer at home, homeless people, children and the unemployed.

It’s a three-room laboratory with sixteen linked computers and anybody can join, for a basic EU 15 a year – about A$ 25.

Patrons can freely surf the internet, learn basic text, email and file skills, or even participate in online seminars and multi-media labs. Homework or job searching is also encouraged. The services, ranging from the basics to advanced graphics and media work for university students, always lead towards some practical outcome.

“The next step is for them to get a job,” Ms Pottiez says.
Originally funded by the European Commission with a start-up grant equal to A$1.6-million, for one year, the web workshop now gets help form the local Council, and is canvassing other sources of financial support.

It has a good argument to obtain that money, as so far, one-thousand people have become subscribers. The managers at the workshop say it is plainly filling a need, as many more are joining up all the time – and other public-access web places will be opening this year.

Picture: Laetitia Pottiez gives some assistance, Jess McKendry from EUAustralia looking on.