Brazil’s new cybercafes for the poor

Brazil’s new cybercafes for the poor
Note to the government: Pay attention to what’s happening in the slums of Sao Paulo, Brazil. The BBC reports that Brazil’s experiment with free cybercafes in Sao Paulo’s poorest neighborhoods is changing lives. The cafes provide computers and free Internet access for one hour a day per user to those for whom it would otherwise be out of reach. “I know people who have got jobs because they knew how to work with computers,” said Jose Antonio, who is taking courses in computer and writing skills. There are 100 of these centers in Sao Paulo, but the BBC focused on the Telecenter Cidade Tiradentes, in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods.

“Ninety-eight percent of people living here didn’t have access to computers before,” said Jesulino Alves de Souza, who co-ordinates the centre. Now, some of them, after learning at the centre, have saved money to buy their own computer to use at home. A resident of the area for 11 years, Mr Souza believes the Telecenter has become an important part of the lives of many young people in the area.
And in a sign that perhaps the local residents recognize the significance of this place, de Souza says the café has never been robbed or vandalized, unlike other inner city public buildings and schools.

It is amazing how quickly something as simple as Internet access can change the life of a young person. People intuitively know that we’ve only scratched the surface of this exciting new medium and that — if they want to prepare for the future — they need to immerse themselves in it. Hats off to the folks in Sao Paulo who’ve done this for their citizens!

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