The Inter Islamic Network on Information Technology (INIT) in collaboration with UNESCO Chair on ICT4D and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad (CIIT) very successfully convened second two-day International Workshop on ‘ICTs for Development: Mainstreaming the Marginalized’ on October 5 – 6, 2017 at CIIT, Islamabad – Pakistan. The instant Workshop was 2nd edition of the series and garnered participation from around forty one (41) national and international organizations with a diverse group of nearly Sixty Five (65) participants hailing from Government, Development, Academia, Technology, Media and Telecom sectors.
The opening ceremony of the event took place on the morning of 5th October 2017, and was attended by nearly 120 guests. The opening ceremony was formally initiated with a recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by an inspirational delivered by President INIT/Rector CIIT Prof. Dr. Raheel Qamar presenting a brief account of his encounters with the state of the art technologies and how perceptions related towards have evolved over the years. This was followed by an address from the Chief Guest Mr. Muhammad Tahir Mushtaq, Member HRD, MOIT&T presenting an account of the efforts of Government of Pakistan is doing towards the inclusion of most marginalized communities and highlighted initiatives in place especially for the IT education of young girls. The Address of the Chief Guest was followed by a speech from the lead speaker Prof. Tim Unwin from the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D who presented an account of ICT for Development landscape of Pakistan and gave a brief overview of the workshop structure.
The opening ceremony was concluded by the Executive Director INIT, Engr. Tahir Naeem who delivered a vote of thanks to all the eminent guests who had graced the occasion including the President INIT, Member HRD, Dr. S.M. Junaid Zaidi, Executive Director COMSATS, Dr. Ismail Shah Chairman PTA, Brig. Wasi Ullah D.G PTA and to all the participants travelling from across Pakistan.
The workshop was divided into Eight (08) technical sessions spread over two days. The focus of the 1st day was mainly upon the ICTs for Development Landscape of Pakistan focusing upon emerging themes like the Financial Technologies, Low Tech Solutions and Addressing the Digital Gender Divide. The second Day focused upon the needs of the marginalized communities and how technology can facilitate in terms of Disability, Rural Needs, and Marginalized Children.
A brief overview of Day 1 is presented below:
- Technical Session 1: Understanding the ICT4D Landscape, Introduced by Prof. Tim Unwin and plenary talk by Dr. Ismail Shah, the Chairman of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority followed by a lively panel discussion session with Col. Talat Shabir (PhD Scholar QAU), Ms. Durdana Najam (Journalist) , Dr. Ismail Shah (Chairman PTA) and Mr. Moiz Khan (CEO Simple.pk)
- Technical Session 2: The Road to Facilitation: Financial Technologies for the Marginalized, Introduced by Prof. Tim Unwin with a plenary given by Mr. Qasif Shahid (CEO FINJA) about making payments frictionless, free and real time followed by an interactive discussion session.
- Technical Session 3: Addressing the Digital Gender Gap, Plenary Talk Delivered by Prof. Tim Unwin elaborating upon the UN-led EQUALS initiative for gender equality in a digital age, as well as some of the challenges that face women in using ICT. The plenary talk was followed by an interesting panel discussion session with Dr. Bushra Hassan (International Islamic University) , Ms. Shazia Majeed (Educationist) , Ms. Sumaira Kanwal (Community Uplift Program) , Mr. Paras Ali (Editor, Technology Times)
- Technical Session 4: No Tech to Low Tech to High Tech: an Entrepreneur’s Tale, Introduction by Dr. Akber Gardezi with a plenary talk by Muhammad Nasrullah (CEO INTEGRY) explaining the transition of ICT for Development Technologies in Pakistan followed by an interactive discussion session.
The activities of Day 1 concluded with a wrap-up discussion moderated by Prof. Tim Unwin.
The activities of Day 2 are presented below:
- Technical Session 4: Serving the Most Marginalized: Accessibility and Disability, Introduction by Prof. Tim Unwin followed by a plenary talk by Mr. David Banes on access and inclusion using ICTs, which included a very useful framework for considering digital accessibility issues. A brief presentation was also given by Dr. Ilyas Syed from Peshawar Paraplegic Center showcasing the activities at the center. The session also include a panel discussion session including Ms. Ayesha Butt ( Speech Pathologist, Ripphah Institute) , Dr. Ilyas Syed (Rehabilitation Specialist) , Ms. Shakeela Yasmin (Pakistan Disabled Foundation) , Dr. Amir Chaudary ( Assistant Professor Electrical Engineering).
- Technical Session 5: Developing Technologies for the Rural/Urban Slum Needs, during which Muhammad Mustafa spoke about his vision of enabling all 700 million illiterate adults in the world to go online through his Mauqa Online initiative.
- Technical Session 6: Special Technologies for Special Education Introduced by Dr. Akber Gardezi and plenary talk and demonstration by Mr. Muhamamd Waqas (CEO Wonder Tree) an augmented reality platform for treating learning disabilities and rehabilitation.
- Technical Session 7: Educating the Marginalized, Plenary Talk by Prof. Tim Unwin on educating marginalized children, followed by a talk by Ms. Shaista Kazmi from Vision 21 described their Speed Literacy Program focusing on the engagement of out of school children.
- Technical Session 8: Wrap-Up Discussion by Prof. Tim Unwin The last session focused upon the main emerging themes from the past two days and a lively interactive discussions entailed on how best to proceed in future from the perspective Pakistan.
The concluding session included presentation of certificates to the participants, the workshop ended on high note with a renewed passion for the ICTs for Development initiates in Pakistan. A complete set of speaker presentation and event pictures can be accessed from the links below.
INIT aspires to conduct the third workshop in the series in the forthcoming year.
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