This November, the Science and Arts Foundation was an active participant in the second, and final, phase of the United Nation's World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and parallel events as an independent accredited civil society entity and the focal point for the Global Knowledge Partnership's Middle East and North Africa regional cluster. Hosted by the Government of Tunisia, over 19,000 individuals took part in the weeklong events, with entities representing 174 states and the European Community, 92 International Organizations, 606 NGOs and civil society organizations, 226 business sector entities and 642 media organizations. WSIS has been a groundbreaking initiative in its promotion of a multi-stakeholder process to examine and come to agreement on concerns facing all aspects of the information society. Held in two phases, the first hosted by the Government of Switzerland in Geneva in December 2003, and including a preparatory process consisting of international, regional and thematic meetings, the Summit aimed to address issues as they relate to the information society and information and communication technologies as used in the development process.
The Science and Arts Foundation has been involved in the WSIS process starting from the Geneva phase and continuing to the Tunis phase. Given the intense focus WSIS has given to issues related to education, and ICTs for development in general, the overall experience has not only exposed SAF to new realms of knowledge within the field but also paved the way for fruitful partnerships and concrete program developments. This year, six representatives from SAF participated in both the Summit and parallel events held in Tunis. As a member of the Global Knowledge Partnership-GKP ( www.globalknowledge.org), SAF also took part in the GKP Pavilion and Forum.
Furthermore, as the GKP focal point for the Middle East and North Africa, SAF worked in collaboration with other regional members to organize a panel session entitled "ICTs and Education: Case Studies from the Middle East and North Africa" as part of the GKP Forum. SAF also organized and participated in a number of meetings with regional members in order to increase collaboration and joint ventures.
Other highlights from the week for SAF include:
-Participation in the day-long "GKP Workshop on Building Partnerships"
-A representative speaking on a panel entitled: "Connectivity and Content are Not Enough-Innovative Capacity Building Initiatives in the GKP Education Community" (part of GKP Forum)
-A representative leading a discussion group at the "Strategies for Empowering Youth in the Information Society" workshop (part of GKP Forum)
-Organization of a presentation entitled "ICTs and Entrepreneurship" (WSIS Parallel Event)
Additionally, three of the representatives attended the Tunis phase based on a grant received from the UNESCO Cluster Office in Tehran in order to focus on events related to ICTs for the disabled. The representatives had the opportunity to both share SAF's experiences in ICTs for the disabled, particularly the visually impaired, and also discover the experiences of other similar organizations in order to expand SAF's programs in the field.
Mr. Nasrollah Rezaie, head of SAF's Visually Impaired Person's network, also delivered a talk on this topic.
Overall, the team returned with a vast wealth of positive results and experiences which will be applied to the organization's work program in the near future.
... Payvand News - 12/23/05 ... --