Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ten steps for establishing a sustainable multipurpose community telecentre

This Article is reproduced from text found in the UNESCO set of booklets: “Ten steps for establishing a sustainable multipurpose community telecentre.” Establishing multipurpose community telecenters is one way in which communities can advance their own development. Here, present an outline of what is required and provide a link to the full set of booklets online designed to help persons involved in community development establish such a center.

Ten Steps for establishing a sustainable Multipurpose Community Telecentre (MCT) is intended to assist communities to walk through the basic requirements which need to be addressed when setting out to open and operate a successful MCT.

Step One: Getting Started

This first booklet gives a short explanation of an MCT, its ownership and its possible services and programmes. It deals with the initial process of identifying and mobilising key persons in the community to form a Steering Committee as well as the actions to be taken prior to calling an Open Community Meeting. Factors contributing to sustainability of MCT such as availability of physical facilities, funding, volunteers and, more importantly, the interest of the community to avail themselves of the programmes and services to be offered are introduced in this booklet.

Step Two: Holding an Open Community Meeting

Focusing on the first Open Community Meeting (OCM) on MCT, this booklet gives some tips on when and how to plan and convene the meeting. Topics to be covered during the meeting are listed along with a short suggestion of content under each. By following the booklet, the Steering Committee will be able to ascertain community interest in and support for an MCT, to estimate the number of prospective users, and to prepare by the end of the meeting a list of foundation programmes and services as endorsed by the community members.

To cope with those who cannot participate in the OCM when it is held, a questionnaire is provided in Annex Two of this booklet along with an explanation as to why and how to conduct a survey and/or interview.

Step Three: Management

Step Three underlines the importance of appointing key people to the Steering Committee and the right MCT manager while defending the benefits of incorporation and registration of MCT. The booklet gives succinct explanation of what constitutes a good management. Legal framework for MCT is introduced in this booklet for consideration of the Steering Committee. The role and tenure of the Steering Committee, the Annual General Meeting (AGM), the composition of a Management Committee, its responsibilities and its election are described in this booklet. Included are examples of job checklist for use by the Committee, meeting agenda, format of minutes, mission statement, and organizational chart.

The case studies highlight the importance of record keeping.

Step Four: Staff Appointments

Job description, job advertisement, and recruitment are discussed in this booklet. Users will learn about the role of a selection committee and how an interview of candidates is carried out. Duties of the Steering Committee vis-à-vis the manager are briefly described and example code of conduct for the manager is provided.

Step Five: Services and Programmes

The booklet touches upon the points to be taken into consideration when designing services and programmes or planning on acquisition of additional equipment. Users will find useful lists of services and programmes that could be offered at different stages of MCT development, some of which can be organised in collaboration/co-operation with other MCTs. Collocation among MCTs, which was first mentioned in Step One, is further elaborated in this booklet.

Step Six: Building and Equipment

Step Six raises pertinent questions regarding building and equipment requirements such as location, availability of shared space, internal spaces, furniture, equipment as well as other considerations.

Step Seven: Reach for Your Goals

Explaining planning as a process, the booklet begins with an example of SWOT analysis, a brief explanation on the relationship between vision/goals and activities, defining strategies and actions along with a timeline. The booklet ends with an advice on implementation and review which leads back to situation analysis.

Step Eight: Financial Management

Efficient MCTs have sound financial procedures and practices which include proper budgeting and financial systems, reporting and annual audit. This booklet explains the roles of treasurer and bookkeeper. Simple example helps users to learn various aspects of financial management from preparing a grant proposal and a budget to handling petty cash.

Step Nine: Operating Procedures

Having an operating manual facilitates day-to-day operation from unlocking doors to welcoming visitors and maintaining record for reporting purpose. Ultimately, this step suggests ways to enable a substitute or volunteer to operate the MCT unaided as well as to ensure that MCT can efficiently provide satisfactory services to customers.

Step Ten: Customer Service and Promotional Issues

The content of this last booklet deals with keeping customers satisfied in order to increase MCT membership and consequently candidates for the Management Committee.

Where promotion is concerned, Step Ten advises when to begin promoting MCT, what promotional activities are possible and what is needed for carrying them out.

The full set of booklets for Ten Steps can be found at this link.

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