Nowadays, life around us moves at a very fast pace. The changes that take place in the world are influenced by many factors, some of them positive and others negative, that sometimes dictate the present state of affairs in the world. In particular, our everyday life is imposed by the Internet and its resources, giving us the ability to research and acquire new information at any time. Therefore, I consider the question of digital divide to be an important question of debate that needs to be addressed immediately. I believe that there is a disadvantage for the persons who reside in the areas where the digital divide is predominant and the rate of educational improvement of such populations. Hence, I am going to present clear arguments to identify the concerns and negative effects of the digital divide to the educational, social and political development of the Australian population.
What the Digital Divide is and Why it is Important to Eliminate it
In order for the members of the Senate to understand the specifics of the problem that we are discussing today, I am going to explain what the digital divide is and why it is important to eliminate it. The digital divide represents the gap between the population who have access to the computerized technology and those who do not. The digital divide is also defined as the alteration of accessing of information through the Internet in part due to the geographical location, social and economic status, race and physical abilities. In a world where knowledge and information have a progressively important role in the economical development of a country, the availability of the Internet plays a strategic step in the advancement of the population’s intellectual and social skills. It is important to notice that in most developed countries, the access to the Internet is widely available in most sections, whether urban or rural, of the country. However, the accessibility to the Internet and other communication technologies in the rural sections of Australia is sometimes limited or unavailable at all (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006). Even though constructive developments of the Internet and other technologies have taken place, there is still more room for the Australian government to promote better improvements and additions to the less developed digital network of Australia as compared to other developed countries (ACT Government 2003).
Within the developed and postindustrial countries like Australia, the fundamental cause of the digital divide represents the types of socioeconomic layers that shaped the access to all social goods. The majority of the digitally underprivileged include indigenous Australians and other groups in which they are incorporated or misrepresented: those on low incomes, unemployed, uneducated, from other heritages, handicapped, or residing in rural areas (Australian Library and Information Association 2001). I believe that the most important cause of the digital divide is education with all its aspects. A great deal of research has shown that education plays a big influence on the access to ICT. In the study conducted by Lloyd and Hellwig in 2002, they concluded that education of a person has the most noteworthy connection to the rate of the population’s ICT usage. Even income was not as important of a reason as education is. Therefore, educating people in the direction of IT technology should be at the top of the priorities for the Australian government. It is proven that people with a better education tend to have Internet at their house more often (Australian Library and Information Association 2003). I believe that if the person is more educated he or she is more inclined to search for more information. Therefore, I encourage the development of the Internet infrastructure in all the populated regions of Australia.
We all well know that the government has the abilities to oversee the influx of information and also encourage the level of education in the society. Thus, the government’s role to administer and promulgate new laws, assign funding for the increasing of the education and information development is the key factor that will lead to the minimization of the digital divide. First, I would like to promote the idea of creating a platform for the private sector development of the information market, and encouraging equality of Internet and information technology access via measures such as government subsidies, special programs, public education, and public library technology as well as Internet classes. We, as the government of the country, shall promote the introduction of a mandatory Internet learning class in the early stage of the education. There is a need of creating relevant regulations that will encourage the promotion of Internet access on country-wide scale. Therefore, the next strategy that I propose is the introduction of free Internet access in every library of the country. I believe that such policy will narrow the gap of Internet users between the indigenous, disadvantaged groups of population and the better educated population. The government policy and funding directed to the development of the indigenous areas with technological advancements should constitute another step towards the liquidation of the digital divide.
Furthermore, I propose the introduction of certain grants for the improvement of the information and technological infrastructure, and the promotion of the competition between the leading communication companies. The government’s involvement in the encouraging of the Internet use via the e-government initiatives will carry more benefits in the future, such as, lowering of administrative costs, diminishing the turnaround process of delivering of certain services.
All in all, I could provide many more examples and reasons for why the gap between the digital divide and education should be minimal; however, I strongly hope that everyone will agree that a country’s future well-being and progress directly depends on the population’s education. Therefore, I believe that one of the ways we can build and retain a well-developed country is via the encouraging of the education on the institutional level, as well as on a technological and informational level. In consequence, I encourage a greater demand for the policies of government and the information spread directed to every kind of populations no matter their heritage, social or economic status. Thus, we have to address and commit to increase of information equality by the use of a greater intervention and comprehensive reforms directed towards the interests of a socially healthy informational society that would benefit all Australians.