Background Information -> What is SDP
Skills Development Program is initiated for the purpose of personal development of women involved in WiTT project. It supports individual aspirations and interests of WiTT trainers, which can benefit the whole team of trainers. As interests and individual aspirations of trainers regarding specific knowledge differ from one another, and as it is not efficient in terms of time, language diversity, skill levels and money to organize international training which would cover technical issues, Skills Development Program is developed. Further, SDP provides an advantage that a potential WITT trainer can attend a course held in a local language, attend it at her own convenience and at a pace that best suits her. Participants of this program would share knowledge they gain during Trainers’ Exchange Events, local WITT trainings, share books, notes, and write an article for WITT web site about their experience of attending a course.
There should be diversity among skills WiTT trainers posses. Therefore, if SDP participants have several areas of interest, they would be encouraged to enhance their knowledge in areas that complement other WITT trainers skills.
Courses could be of technical nature, for example – creating a web page, digital image editing, creating a data base, audio editing, administering a computer network, servicing computers, etc. and non-technical, like ICT policy. As WITT supports concept of digital freedom, and Free Software usage, SDP does not cover taking a proprietary software course.
Application include a motivation letter and filling in an application form, which includes short description of the course, information about the computer school, time and place the course takes place and price of the course.
Applications were processed on the FCFS (first come – first served) basis, and all potential participants were encouraged to apply as immediately after the Call for Applications has been sent no matter when the course is actually taking place, in order to ensure fair and distributed use of funds available. Call for Application was sent via mailing lists and personal e-mails of women activists that were - or wanted to be - involved with WITT.
Criteria for participation in the SDP
- Applicant is a woman who is or who wishes to become WiTT trainer and is from the region (Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS)
- Applicants is a women who has either taken part in an WiTT/ENAWA training or who can demonstrate a good understanding of ICTs and their use for feminist organisations in the region
- Applicant is active either in a women’s organisation, does some form of gender work or is active in civil society, for example as an activist or a scholar
- She has the potential to become a focal point (she is taking part in the Training Exchange Events)
- The topic she chooses to be trained in would benefit to WiTT/ENAWA trainings and trainees
- She makes a commitment to give trainings further and share the knowledge gained, the course material with others
- She commits to write an article about the training for WiTT’s web site and for WiTT/ENAWA trainers’ reference
- She commits to write a small manual dealing with the topic covered by the local course of her choice if it would be useful for WiTT project
- She commits to maintain and share the knowledge she gains.
Expected and achieved results
The general expectation was that we would have many applications, and would therefore have to grant SDP participation with caution.
However, we have received 6 applications altogether, out of which 4 were granted.
Those that were not granted covered courses in Adobe’s and Macromedia’s image editing and web design tools, which are proprietary software whose attendance we chose not to support.
As a result, we’ve managed to get a woman trained in bases of web design by alleviating use of proprietary software that she initially applied for, and she thus realized there are alternative options which help build her knowledge more thoroughly than using tools that skip certain steps of web page development.
Also, we are slowly creating a pool of local OS Linux users and trainers.
Problems encountered (learning process)
Unfortunately, computer centers that cover free software tools usage are very rare in our region. This only emphasizes the need to promote FS and educate its users. No schools were available in Bosnia, Croatia or Macedonia. As for Serbia, Linux courses are available only in Belgrade, the capital city. Not only are there no FS courses available in other towns in Serbia, but there are also prejudices: a TEE 2004 participant who lives in Southern Serbia town Nis who wanted to be trained in administering a Linux based network was told in a local computer center of town Nis that “women can not be Linux administrators”.
A very good demonstration of solidarity among WITT activists was organizing course attendance for an SDP participant from Skopje, Macedonia, whereas the course itself was held in Sofia, Bulgaria. Language did not present an obstacle in this case, nor did the time it took to attend the course.
Courses in technical topics usually include lectures of basic principles of how things work. By attending a proprietary software course that is available in our region, one can grasp the basic principles and use them to find a way to familiarize herself with FS tools she comes across. Nevertheless, we did not “give in” to support proprietary software courses attendance.
However, this presents a problem that should be solved. Attending individual courses abroad or international trainings do not present a solution, as these were the starting point facts that led to SDP development in the first place.
SDP supports local courses attendance that fall in the scope of ICT skills with an emphasis on FS usage, which would be further applied to train women in the region, exchange knowledge and support WiTT development.
It seems that we are pioneering in the area of FS promotion, usage and training. We need support to expand our knowledge base in order to share it further and train activist throughout the region.