Peace Corps Director Further Outlines Program for Information Technology; Schneider Addressed Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on June 7
June 12, 2000WASHINGTON, D.C., June 12, 2000—Peace Corps Director Mark Schneider spoke at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars last Wednesday, June 7, where he further outlined plans for an information technology program for Peace Corps volunteers.
"It is within the context of coping with the reality of globalization that the Peace Corps is launching its own 21st century e-initiative," said Schneider. "In the 21st century, I am convinced that the Peace Corps is even better prepared and better positioned than virtually any other agency or institution to bring information technology to the task of poverty reduction."
Schneider noted that Peace Corps volunteers are asked to perform computer-related tasks with increasing frequency. "In Ghana, I met a young man from Seattle, who thought he was going to teach math at a high school in the capital city of Accra. The school director, however, asked him if he knew what could be done with the 15 computers that had arrived but seemed not to work. The volunteer suddenly became the director of the school's computer literacy program. For a year, he was the only teacher who taught computer operations to 1,500 students and their teachers," Schneider said.
Belize has already requested 30 information technology volunteers to lead their effort in bringing computers to all primary schools by the year 2005. The first 10 volunteers arrived on June 6 for training, and the remaining slots will soon be filled.
In March, Schneider first announced a Peace Corps information technology program to recruit and place computer specialists in developing countries. Under this new program, volunteers will teach communities how to operate computers and applications, teach at literacy centers, and assist with small business Web page design centers. The Peace Corps also plans to partner with industry and technology leaders to more effectively bring technology to areas where computers and software are scarce. Currently, the Peace Corps has nearly 7,000 volunteers working in 77 countries to prevent the spread of AIDS, protect the environment, teach children, promote health and nutrition, and help start small businesses. Since 1961, more than 155,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps, serving 134 countries.