ICT Based Non Formal Educational Modules: Nature, Usage and Impact

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In recent years, ICT enhanced Non-Formal Educational (NFE) modules are increasingly being channelled through community access centres to provide wide ranging basic skills to local communities. These …

In recent years, ICT enhanced Non-Formal Educational (NFE) modules are increasingly being channelled through community access centres to provide wide ranging basic skills to local communities. These are instrumental in accelerating the achievement of key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly poverty reduction, universal primary education and gender parity.
The paper describes the nature, usage and tangible results and impact of ICT enhanced non-formal education at the community level. This will provide a basis for experience sharing between countries and regions that increasingly seek to channel non-formal education through community based Multi-media Centers (CMCs) and telecentres.

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  • 1. ICT Based Non Formal Educational Modules: Nature, Usage and Impact 1. Understanding Non-Formal EducationNon Formal Education (NFE) both complements and seeks to fill in the gaps in the FormalEducation System in terms of its access and reach. At the same time, it caters to the needs ofspecial groups of people, such as illiterate adults, school drop outs, employed youth, slumdwellers, etc., who have been deprived of formal education. Initially restricted to„correspondence courses‟ and „distance learning programs‟, the use of Information &Communication Technologies (ICTs)1 have dramatically expanded Non Formal Education‟sscale and scope by enhancing its outreach and expanding its accessibility. From satellites, worldwide web, computers to multimedia CDs and videos to audio only mediums, presently, all formsof ICTs are being used for imparting learning and training; more so in the sphere of non formaleducation, through various community access centers including the school computer labs.Non formal education can be defined as organised learning that takes place beyond thetraditional school setting and does not, necessarily, follow any set curriculum or involvecertification of the learners‟ achievements. Coombs, Prosser and Ahmed2 use this concept torefer to “any organised educational activity outside the established formal system - whetheroperating separately or as an important feature of some broader activity - that is intended to serveidentifiable learning clienteles and learning objectives.” Further elaborating the scope of sucheducation, Tight3 opines, “Non formal education is about acknowledging the importance ofeducation, learning and training, which takes place outside recognized educational institutions.”In a broader sense, non formal education is more akin to the concept of „recurrent and lifelonglearning‟, as it is not bound by any “hierarchically structured and chronologically gradededucation system” and is more oriented towards enhancing the life skills of the learners in aninformal way. Such learning may or may not involve face to face interaction with teachers. Moreoften, non formal educational programs are implemented with the help of specially trainedinstructors or teachers; and sometimes, with the proactive involvement of community membersas the main facilitators.Non formal education is an inclusive category. It encompasses myriad systems of impartingeducation and training within its ambit. These include basic and functional literacy applications,and applications for the enhancement of livelihood opportunities, which are appropriate for thecommunity; „distance education‟; catching-up programmes for drop-out students; specialeducation programmes for street children and slum dwellers; educational programs related withdevelopment initiatives, such as health education and awareness, promotion of best practices inagriculture, capacity building for alternative livelihood opportunities; and “training programs for1 Here, the term ICT includes not only computers and the Internet, but also conventional electronic communicationtechnologies like broad/narrowcasting audio-visual mediums like radio, television, ham radio, wireless transmitters;and print media, such as community newspapers, notice boards, etc.2 Coombs, Prosser and Ahmed (1973)3 Tight (1996)
  • 2. rural development and the role of women in development”4. As illustrated by the aboveexamples, it is very relevant for learners, who could not pursue formal education for one reasonor another, such as neo-literates, illiterate adults and young people, drop-out students, employedyouth, etc. 2. Use of ICTs in Non-Formal EducationTraditional ICTs, such as radio and television, have been used in supporting and impartingeducation since a long time. They are widely used to support learning in formal educationalinstitutions, such as schools and colleges. It is widely recognized that they have an enabling rolein fostering equity in terms of access to education through enhancing the reach of education toone and all by eliminating the obstacles of time, space and distance.Later, with the advent of modern ICTs, such as satellites, computers and Internet, the scope oftheir use in formal as well as non-formal systems of education, especially in „distance education‟has increased tremendously. Based on the „teach yourself‟ concept, ICTs are increasingly beingused to produce basic and functional literacy applications, and applications for the enhancementof livelihood opportunities. These usually encompass multi-media products with imaginativeintegration of animation, video clips, still photographs, audio, hypertext, hyperlinks, web links,etc.Such ICT based Non-Formal Educational (NFE) modules are used to create and develop wideranging vocational and micro entrepreneurial skills, such as database management, officemanagement and administration; to provide basic and functional literacy and awarenessgeneration information on health, self and child care, etc.; to promote best practices in the fieldof agriculture, horticulture, etc. as mentioned before. Thus, they facilitate capacity building; andsuggest and promote alternative means and sources of livelihoods relevant to the community.Within the non formal educational setting, the ICT based educational modules are more effectivein imparting teaching, training and awareness. They have several advantages over traditionalteaching methods, such as:• These can be operated by any computer literate person.• There is no need of subject expert to teach the skills, only a facilitator can help thelearners use the modules for learning or training.• Such modules emphasize „learning by doing‟.• They provide an „out of the classroom‟ learning experience, especially for adult womenwho prefer informal settings.• They enable adult learners and physically disabled people, who could not join formaleducation system, to continue their education or training.• They also enable youth to pursue learning and vocation at the same time.Within the formal educational set up also, they can be used very effectively to:• Support and enhance the learning experience of students and improve their learningoutcomes;4 McGivney and Murray, 1992.
  • 3. • Hold the interest of the students, especially small children, in the subject taught byincorporating multi-media, such as graphics, video clips, animation, audio, etc;• Draw the „school drop outs‟ back into school and sustain their learning interest;• Improve the attendance rate of students in the school;• Break the monotony of the formal educational setup and make learning a joyful andinteractive process for the students. 3. Typology of ICT based NFE ModulesThe ICT based NFE module sector is growing gradually, but steadily. A number oforganisations, even telecenters, are developing very interesting and innovative multi-mediamodules that consist of either a combination of animation, audio, video, hypertext, graphics oronly animation, only audio-video mediums. These are mainly multi-media products containingvideo clips, graphics, digitized texts, still photographs, audio, animation, etc. and packaged inCD ROMs and DVDs. The ICT based Non Formal Educational modules are generally availablein the following formats:3.1 Animation Film: Animation has been an all time favourite to convey social messages thatappeal to children and adults alike. UNICEFs Meena Communication Initiative is a landmark inthis area. Initially targeted to take up the issues related to girl child in the South Asian region, itis also highlighting the problems associated with HIV/AIDS, terrorism, etc. The centralcharacters of the series, Meena, her brother Raju, and their pet parrot, Mithu have becomehousehold names in India and its neighbouring countries. UNICEF collaborated with the nationalTV network of respective countries to telecast them on a wider scale.Animation, being a very entertaining medium, is also an integral part of several modules oneducation, training and awareness generation, although the quality may not be comparable to theMeena series. This is because the creation of animation films is very expensive. Apart from this,other factor responsible for the lack of quality is lack of expertise at the local level.3.2 Basic and Functional Literacy Applications: Tata Consultancy Services (TCS,http://www.tcs.com) has developed Computer Based Functional Literacy (CBFL) applications toaddress the wide spread problem of adult illiteracy in India. Based on the theory of cognition,language and communication, these modules use the traditional puppetry technique to formvarious words. This is a hit with the rural people.This is a 40 hour course that can be spread over a period of weeks/months according to thelearning capability and time available to the learners. Another unique feature of these modules isthat they are based on the primers used by the Indian National Literacy Mission. So, they can belinked effectively with the ongoing national literacy program to add value to it. These areavailable in six major Indian languages, i.e., Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu andGujarati.Similarly, TARAhaat has also developed an adult literacy program known as TARA AksharGyan, which is being piloted at their TARAkendras or ICT centers. The cache is that it does notcome along the TARAkendra establishment package. The TARAkendra owner has to seek thepermission to run this course separately. Another successful example is the adult literacy
  • 4. program initiated by the Kerala IT Mission through their Akshaya centres. They basically offer adigital literacy programme, which is very popular among the rural men and women alike.3.3 eModules for Enhancement of Livelihood Opportunities: These comprise of e-modules,which are appropriate and relevant to provide training at the community level. DatamationFoundation (http://www.datamationfoundation.org) in India and Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM,http://www.ahsaniamission.org) in Bangladesh are producing interesting ICT based trainingmodules on food preservation, micro-enterprises, office administration, etc.3.4 eModules for Supporting School Education: Azim Premji Foundation is a pioneer in thisfield. They have produced over 300 CDs in 16 Indian languages, including English. These covervarious subjects taught at the school level. Presently, they are engaged in improving them inorder to produce better quality e-Learning modules. Educomp Solutions Ltd. is another privatesector company that specializes in developing educational content for school going children inrural and urban areas. They have also collaborated with Azim Premji Foundation to produceseveral educational CDs for them.3.5 Digital Stories Containing Still Photographs with Voice Over Narrative: UNESCOsupported Community Multi-Media Centers in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have developedsome interesting and engaging digital stories that highlight local problems and issues throughstill photographs and background narration. These can serve as good advocacy materials atregional or national levels.3.6 Digitised Text with Hyperlinks, Web links and Graphics: Digitised texts can be madevery easily and inexpensively after keying in the text; and enhancing it through hyperlinks, weblinks and graphics. Sitakund Youth CMC in Bangladesh has developed some wonderful contentsin this way. They are using them to generate awareness on adolescent health and other localissues.3.7 Server Based Applications: Some of the content, especially on education is also serverbased, which can be retrieved through an application engine. The content is mapped subject andclass-wise; and the teachers can select and use the content according to their need. EducompSolutions, a Delhi based private sector company is engaged in producing this kind of content foruse by private schools in India. They have also collaborated with some Indian StateGovernments to take ICT enhanced education to the government schools. These programs arerunning in fourteen Indian States.3.8 Web Based eLearning: In the course of the research, one web based teaching tool,especially for mathematics, was also found. The web site is known as www.mathguru.com. It hasbeen developed by Educomp Solutions Ltd. The students can utilise these learning modules afterpaying fee and becoming members of the site. It follows the NCERT mathematics curriculum;and is completely text based, down to the numbering of exercises and questions. Lately, anumber of such websites have come into existence, the most recent being the „meritnation.com‟(http://www.meritnation.com/) launched by a pioneer in the job market sector, „naukri.com‟.3.9 Digital Talking Books (DTBs): These are multimedia representation of print publicationsfor people with multiple disabilities, specially the print disabled people, such as visuallydisabled, people with low or decreasing vision, old people, illiterates and minorities/tribals withno script based language. The DAISY consortium is actively involved in training people toproduce such books in developing countries. In Bangladesh, Young Power in Social Action
  • 5. (YPSA) is actively engaged in developing DTBs and also in training people, especially thevisually disabled, to create them. 4. ICT based NFE Module Production ProcessThe relevance of ICT based non formal educational modules has increased manifold in recentyears, especially in the developing countries. They can be used for a variety of reasons, such asto provide education, teaching and training to groups, who have been deprived of the benefits ofthe formal education system. They can also be successfully employed to support, enhance andfortify the learning experience gained from formal education system.In the course of the research, it was discovered that a broad array of ICT based teaching/trainingand educational products can be classified under the gamut of non formal education aids. Therange and quality of such products and the terms used to refer to them are as wide and diversifiedas the concept of non formal education. Therefore, it was deemed important to understand theirproduction related aspects to appreciate the amount of effort that goes into their development. Itis primarily a multi-sectoral activity with the involvement of a number of organizations,Government, IT and multi-media professionals and the main stakeholders, the target audienceand the community in general.4.1 Important Steps in the Production of the Modules: Most of the organizations developingand producing ICT based educational, teaching, training and awareness generation modulesinformed that they have to conduct a lot of research before actually producing these modules. Itis basically a participatory activity with the involvement of several stakeholders, such as thebeneficiaries/community/learners for whom the modules are actually intended; subject experts;IT and multi-media experts; financial support from international donor agencies, as it is always acostly venture; etc. The major steps involved in the development of these modules are:4.1.1 Identification of the Issue or Subject/Need Assessment: The issue or the subject on whichthe module has to be made is decided in collaboration with the target audience through FGDs,workshops and meetings. The beneficiaries play an important role in selecting the issue/topic,which they consider appropriate, especially if the module is meant for capacity building andtraining or generating awareness on a social issue. FGDs and meetings with the community alsohelp in understanding their perception about the problem within a given cultural, social,economic and religious context. The producers of these modules also undertake need assessmentexercise before developing any multi-media product.On the other hand, the educational modules are made keeping the general school syllabus inmind since they want to support or add value to the formal education system.4.1.2 Scoping of the Content: Once the issue or subject of the module is finalized, subjectexperts, teachers and other professionals together scope the content. They explore thecurriculum, syllabus or the subject matter to decide the actual content of the module. Scopinghelps the subject experts to stay focused, and prevents drifting away from the subject.4.1.3 Visualising the Content: It means conceptualizing the visual representation of the content,for example deciding the content layout, the number of graphics, pictures, etc. The visualiservisualizes the content. He may also suggest the appropriate media through which the textualcontent can be transformed into media based content. He selects any of the ICT based module
  • 6. format (discussed under typology of modules) as per the requirements of the project and thefinances available with the company or organisation producing the module.4.1.4 Preparing script on the Selected Issue/Subject: After the approval of the visualiser and theselection of the appropriate media, the content is converted into a script by the instructiondesigner. He prepares it in consultation with the subject expert and the visualiser, who validatethe script. The expertise of the subject experts is used to understand different intellectual andacademic aspects of the selected issue/topic while developing the script. Sometimes, the servicesof child psychologists are also required if the audience or main beneficiaries of the intendedmodule are children and students.4.1.5 Conversion of Script into Multi-Media Product: Once the script is ready, multi-media andIT experts conceptualize the ideal media through which the message or teaching could be mosteffectively conveyed. Then, the final script goes to the illustrator and animator, who drawnecessary graphics and pictures to enhance the script.The graphic/animation artists also decide the kind of look and dress the characters used in themodule should have to make them acceptable to the target audience. Sometimes, the finishedproduct is multi-media with the incorporation of text, video clips, audio, animation, graphics,links to relevant pages and pictures and several other add-ons to make it interesting and capableto hold the interest of the target audience and beneficiaries.The final products are taken to the programmers for final integration of all components into asingle module.4.1.6 Final Reviewing and Editing of Module: The integrated module goes through a number ofprofessionals, such as reviewers and editors, who review, edit and carry out quality checks on themodule; and suggest changes if required. The modules are also analysed for any kind ofmalfunctioning of links, keys, tabs, etc.4.1.7 Piloting of the module: As soon as the module is ready, it is piloted before a selectaudience of target beneficiaries to receive their feedbacks, reactions regarding the presentation ofthe content, comprehensibility of the language, its quality and its effectiveness in conveying theintended message/teaching/training. On the basis of their feedback, the module is improved,adapted or reformatted to make it more impressive. The product is then packaged in anappropriate format, such as CD or DVD or application; and it is, finally, ready for distribution. 5. Dissemination and Usage of ICT Based NFE ModulesGenerally, public places, such as the Panchayat Ghar, schools and other educational institutionsalong with public libraries and community centers are used for facilitating ICT based non formaleducation. These, as institutions where the members of the community, such as learners,educators, school managers, parents of learners, unemployed youth, women and other residentsof the community assemble, are the first choice as centers to access information and education.They are also the places that have computers and other necessary infrastructure for use by thecommunity.
  • 7. Lately, the telecenters5 are playing a catalytic role in disseminating and using ICT based NFEmodules. They have accelerated the use of ICTs in enhancing access to information, knowledge,services and education. Presently, they are utilizing a wide range of ICT based educational,teaching and training modules, such as CDs, DVDs, audio tapes, etc. for communityempowerment.The relevance of such educational modules increases manifold since a number of South Asianand African countries have already established community telecenters in partnership withdifferent organisations. Notable among such initiatives are the Indian government‟s CommunityService Centers (CSCs), Nepal‟s „Swabhiman‟, and Sri Lanka‟s „Nenasalas‟. ICT basededucational modules serve as an important resource for these community telecenters and helpthem in moving towards sustainability as „training‟ remains their all time favourite revenuegenerator.The UNESCO supported CMCs in Asian and African countries promoted the use of ICTs forgenerating local content, aggregating relevant content and module from outside that can belocally used; and disseminating/imparting knowledge, training through them.5.1 Factors Determining ICT Based NFE Module Usage at the Telecenters: The type of ICTbased NFE modules used by the telecenters depends on the type of ICT infrastructure availableat the telecentre. If they have computers, they prefer using CDs. In the absence of computers,especially in India and Bangladesh, traditional ICTs, such as television and radio are widelyused; thereby necessitating the use of video and audio tapes and cassettes to impart education,training, teaching or awareness generation. In addition, several other factors also determine theirusage at the telecentres, such as:5.1.1 Nature of Content (Generic/Specific): The nature of the content could be assessed in termsof being generic (one that can be used widely across countries) or specific (one that are relevantonly locally). The subject matter of the modules varies from general awareness, health, capacitybuilding to empowerment, micro enterprise, education etc. Majority of the modules are onsubjects taught at the school level.An analysis of the NFE modules reveals that there are very few generic kind of modules that canbe used across countries; and these include mostly health related awareness CDs on malaria,HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, etc. in addition to educational/teaching and training CDs. Some of thesemodules feature country/culture/religion specific characters, dressing and festivals that wouldappear out of context in other countries; and the people of other countries cannot relate to thecharacters shown in the CDs and video tapes.Some of the digitized content developed by CMCs that take up local issues and problems wouldappear irrelevant if shown in the telecenters of other countries, except making them aware ofproblems faced by people in developing countries. The presence of a number of languages anddialects also restricts the wider dissemination of modules without adequate translation andadaptations.5 Telecenters are community access centers providing knowledge and information; and capacity building servicesthrough a wide range of ICTs, both conventional and modern. These are variously known as Community Multi-Media Centers (CMCs), Village Knowledge Centers (VKCs), Community Learning Centers (CLCs), InformationKiosks, etc.
  • 8. Sometimes, the national sentiment of the concerned country also comes in the way of wider useof the modules produced in a particular language, such as in the case of Nepal. Although a largenumber of Nepali people understand Hindi, but they don‟t want to use the modules unless theseare translated into Nepali language and dialects5.1.2 Quality & User-Friendliness: The main determinants of the extent of its use in thetelecenters are the quality and user friendliness of the modules; the quality of the content,comprehensibility of the language, and so on.Generally, the learners are satisfied with the quality of the modules being used at the telecenters.Learners find them of good quality, as majority of them have little exposure to high qualitymodules. They also consider the content appropriate and the language used to explain the contentis also comprehensible. Majority of the modules with the „auto start‟ option are user friendly, asthe beneficiaries don‟t find any problem in operating them.5.1.3 Utility/Relevance: The CDs on health awareness are very relevant for the villagecommunities. The telecenters show them to the community as a part of the healtheducation/awareness program. Some of them are also useful as teaching aids for self care toprevent various forms of disabilities and diseases.Likewise, educational CDs are effectively used to provide additional support to formal educationof the students in school as well as telecenters. Since they teach everything in a very interestingand interactive way, they are highly appreciated by the school going children. They break themonotony of the set curriculum used in a formal education system. CDs depicting stories, suchas the ones developed by Azim Premjee Foundation and UNICEF‟s Meena animation series arevery popular among the children; and they are the most widely viewed CDs in the telecentres.5.1.4 Accessibility: Accessibility is examined in terms of their reach to women, youth, physicallydisabled and other marginalized groups. Visits to the telecenters and meeting with telecentremanagers and the village community reveals that generally, access to the telecenters is notrestricted due to any kind of physical, social, economic disabilities; and all the beneficiaries haveaccess to these modules. 6. Impact of ICT Based NFE Module Usage on the CommunityTo assess the impact of ICT based modules on the community, telecenters were randomlyselected on the basis of the extent of use of these modules in imparting education, teaching andtraining by them. This assessment was facilitated through the participatory approach with theactive involvement of telecentre managers, learners or community members for whom they aremeant; besides the researcher‟s observation and evaluation. The telecentre managers, learnersand community members were shown various types of modules and asked to assess and comparethem on the basis of certain parameters included in the questionnaire. Therefore, the followinganalysis reflects the perception of the beneficiaries regarding these modules.In order to assess the immediate and long term impact of modules at the community level, theresearcher undertook rapid assessment of selected telecentre sites through participatory researchtools, such as FGDs, in-depth interviews with selected facilitators and beneficiaries; andmeetings with the village community. These informal interviews and FGDs facilitated theassessment of the social impact of learning through these modules on the community to
  • 9. comprehend if they have positively contributed to entrepreneurship development, enhancementof livelihood opportunities and empowerment of people, etc.It was measured in qualitative terms with increased focus on changes in the attitude, behaviourand perception of the community as a consequence of using these NFE modules. To measuretheir impact (immediate, long term, social), the researcher developed someindicators/parameters, such as:- Enhanced Self Confidence- Enhanced Awareness on Health & Other Socially Relevant Issues- Knowledge About Alternative Livelihood Opportunities- Change in Behaviour & Perception of Community.But due to short stay and rapid assessment of the telecenters where these modules are being used,the researcher received very stereotypical answers from the community, beneficiaries/learnersand telecentre managers. The perceived impact of the modules at the community level wasanalysed on the basis of the inputs provided by different categories of respondents, such ascommunity members, learners, facilitators and telecentre managers. They were generallysatisfied with the modules and mentioned increase in self confidence; access to infotainment;enhanced knowledge about various alternative vocations that can be pursued to earn a living;increase in general awareness on health and other matters, etc. as the perceptible outcomes ofNFE module use.Appropriateness of Using ICT Based NFE Modules: Most of the telecenters are using suchmodules in addition to printed matter, such as printed training tools, booklets, to provide training.Some of the telecentre managers opined that these modules cannot dispense with the need ofteacher, especially, in the case of small children. These can be used only as support mechanismsat the school level. 7. Challenges Encountered by CMCs and Organisations Producing Digitised Content and NFE Modules:- Development of generic kind of content that can be used across regions and countries is quitechallenging due to the presence of a number of languages and dialects in the selected Asian andAfrican countries. They restrict wider use and dissemination of modules without translation andadaptation.- The regional looks of the characters depicted in the modules also restrict their disseminationacross countries.- Organisations are developing NFE modules without any knowledge of similar kind of workdone by other organizations, which implies duplication resulting in wastage of financial, materialand human resources and efforts.- Organisations are concerned about copy right over their products. Most of the multi-mediaproducts are right protected, so they cannot be adapted or changed by others.- Some organizations provided only samples of their NFE modules.
  • 10. - They are concerned about CD duplication and free distribution of modules developed bythem since module production is a resource intensive activity. They are more interested indirectly dealing with the partners requiring such products.- Repeated screening of the same CDs or DVDs is considered very boring by the community.The module developers face the challenge of holding the interest of the community in theirproducts, which need regular improvisations.- The answers to impact assessment interview schedules are very stereotypical. They do notreflect the exact condition/situation prevailing at the village community level and opinions ofbeneficiaries. The lack of any benchmark data limits „then and now‟ comparisons.- Interview schedules do not enable the assessment of behavioural changes or the changesbrought about in the perception of the people, like enhanced self confidence; women takingiron/folic acid rich food to prevent anaemia; girls discussing puberty and adolescent health;increased interaction between adolescent boys and girls; etc. It requires long term objectiveassessment through appropriate applied research methodology.- Irregular or complete lack of Internet connectivity and lack of necessary infrastructure, suchas computers and related paraphernalia deter the rapid spread of ICT based NFE module use.These should be packaged not only as CDs, but also as DVDs and audio content that can betelecasted/broadcasted/narrowcasted through traditional ICTs, such as television and radio.- Some users as well as telecentre managers felt that ICT based NFE modules can neverreplace face to face interaction between the teacher and the student, which is important andessential for very young students. But they definitely support and add value to traditional, formaleducation. 8. Lessons Learned- It is important to classify ICT based NFE modules not only in terms of content, language,etc., but also in terms of generic and specific (locally relevant) content, the latter being the oneswhose wider dissemination is limited due to cultural, religious, geographical or socio-economicfactors.- There is a constant need to recreate, improve and repackage ICT based NFE modules,especially, the ones on awareness generation to hold the interest of the users and the community.- Impact of the ICT based NFE modules on the community can be best analysed through longterm „ethnographic action research‟, an applied research methodology developed by LondonSchool of Economics researchers for UNESCO to study the impact of ICTs in poverty reductionthrough the CMC movement. It would help in getting an objective view of NFE modules‟ impacton the community and the extent of their use in the CMCs and other telecenters.- There is a felt need to create an online “living catalogue” of organizations and telecentresdeveloping and producing ICT based NFE modules and to select best practices in this area. It canserve as an “open source”, so that organizations can update their list from time to time; and neworganizations venturing in this area can list their products. On the one hand, it will restrain theduplication of efforts by different organisations, thereby saving valuable financial, material andhuman resources. At the same time, it can serve as a „milestone‟ in promoting the use of ICTbased NFE modules in upcoming telecenters, especially in the South Asian countries.