[Telecentres] Mali Community Learning and Information Centers - CLICs

Donald Z. Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Mon Apr 18 16:29:46 BST 2005

Hello, Barbara. I've been particularly interested in the multilingual capacities
of the CLICs in Mali and the local (or "national" in local parlance) language
content production. From what I've been able to learn from afar, there has been
production of content on CDs in national languages (notably Bambara, but also
Fulfulde, Sonrai, and several others) but when it comes to text, they rely on
use of an old 8-bit font called "Bambara Arial." This and the apparent lack of
knowledge of the CLIC technicians about Unicode would effectively limit greater
usage of national languages for various kinds of content, including web

This is not a small matter given that there is a significant level of literacy
in, say Bambara, and that many schools now begin instruction in national
languages (which are the first/home languages of children). 

One way that an agency like AED might provide more proactive technical
backstopping/support for such projects is to include in its training of CLIC
managers and technicians, a small section on Unicode and multilingual
computing. Most systems and software these days, including what I understand
are used at the CLICs, are Unicode aware, so the local staffs should be aware
of that and what this resource means for potential national language use on
CLIC computers. Discussion of Unicode fonts that have the extended (special)
characters used in transcription of Malian national languages (some of which
are probably already installed on the systems without anyone apparently being
aware of it and some others of which can be downloaded for free from the
internet) and of keyboard layouts to facilitate multilingual computing should
also be part of such training.

In the meantime, I am in touch with the principals about passing on such

All the best.


Don Osborn, Ph.D.         dzo at bisharat.net
*Bisharat! A language, technology & development initiative
*Bisharat! Initiative langues - technologie - développement

Quoting Barbara Fillip <bfillip at smtp.aed.org>:

> A quick note to let you know about a recent article in the DOT-COMments
> newsletter about the 13 CLICs (Community Learning and Information
> Centers) established under the dot-ORG program with USAID funding.  The
> article highlights findings from a recent assessment mission.  
> Mali: Selected Snapshots of the 12,000 CLIC Clients
> http://www.dot-com-alliance.org/newsletter/article.php?article_id=113
> A longer assessment mission report can be found on the DOT-COM Alliance
> web site.
> Establishing Community Learning and Information Centers (CLICs) in
> Underserved Malian Communities:
> Report of Assessment Mission 02/19/0 to 03/05/05, Microsoft Unlimited
> Potential Grant
> Feedback would be very welcome,
> Barbara Fillip, Ph.D.
> DOT-COM Alliance
> http://www.dot-com-alliance.org
> (202) 884-8003
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