Bangkok to use nearly 500 volunteers to promote digital literacy among underprivileged people
A total of 494 candidates from communities around the city have been selected by the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s Social Development Department to become the city’s community development volunteer (technology aspect).
Their training session kicked off on Sunday at a ceremony presided over by deputy Bangkok governor Sanon Wangsrangboon.
The programme uses the city’s fiscal 2023 budget to hire qualified staffers to work under the city’s community development projects in several aspects.
The 494 candidates on Sunday attended an orientation session and learned about the programme’s objectives and procedures, and also exchanged experience and opinions regarding digital disparity problems.
Sanon said that several communities in Bangkok were suffering from lack of digital literacy, which was holding them back from fully benefiting from modern technology as well as maximising their potential in the digital economy.
“More economic transactions are being done online nowadays, and people who lack proper knowledge or tools are missing out on these opportunities,” he said.
The deputy governor added that currently there are a few platforms that are ready to present and promote community products and services to a wide group of audience using online channels.
“Communities with unique characters should be able to benefit from these platforms, for example, the Hua Takhe Old Market in Lat Krabang district, or Ban Khrua Community in Ratchathewi district, which is an expert in Jim Thompson’s products,” he said.
Sanon added that the first mission of “digital volunteers” is to gather information on the characteristics of each community. They are encouraged to coordinate with other city officials who have been closely working with communities in public health, social development and urban planning in collecting vital information.
“Volunteers should establish a central database with updated info on each community’s demographic, urban layout, economic status, and digital literacy. This information will help the city set appropriate measures to improve people’s quality of life and their knowledge of digital technology,” he said.
Another vital role of digital volunteers is to provide knowledge and train locals on how to use digital technology to access government services and other benefits, especially among the underprivileged, to make sure that no one is left behind.
One volunteer will be assigned to work in their respective community in the first phase of the project. If it proves to be a success, the city will expand the project to cover all of its over 2,100 communities.
Sanon added that the city has also earmarked a budget of 200,000 baht per community to tackle urgent problems that they are facing. Each community must establish a committee to consider which project the budget would go towards.
“The city is also planning to adjust its regulations to allow the allocation of budget that is appropriate to the size of communities: Large, medium, and small, as well as consider communities that have yet to officially register with the authority to receive the budget as well,” added Sanon.