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The Roles of Community Based Telecenters in Bridging the Digital Divide in Rural Malaysia
Abstract:Malaysia is aggressive in promoting the usage of ICT to its mass population through the support by the government policies and programs targeting the general population. However, with the uneven distribution of the basic telecommunication infrastructure between the urban and rural area, cost for being “interconnected" that is considered high among the poorer rural population and the lack of local contents that suit the rural population needs or lifestyles, it is still a challenge for Malaysia to achieve its Vision 2020 Agenda moving the nation towards an information society by the year 2020. Among the existing programs that have been carried out by the government to encourage the usage of ICT by the rural population is “Kedaikom", a community telecenter with the general aim is to engage the community to get exposed and to use the ICT, encouraging the diffusion of the ICT technology to the rural population. The research investigated by using a questionnaire survey of how Kedaikom, as a community telecenter could play a role in encouraging the rural or underserved community to use the ICT. The result from the survey has proven that the community telecenter could bridge the digital divide between the underserved rural population and the well-accessed urban population in Malaysia. More of the rural population, especially from the younger generation and those with higher educational background are using the community telecenter to be connected to the ICT.
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