This year's World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which takes place on 17 May, is focused on the opportunities that ICT can give to young people.
The event, which marks the anniversary of the signature of the first International Telegraph Convention and the creation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), was instituted by the Union's Plenipotentiary Conference in 1973.
In previous years the event has focused on a number of areas including highlighting cybersecurity, mobile communications and creating an equitable information society.
ITU, which is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology, has launched a special global initiative for young people from developing countries and countries in transition to coincide with Thursday's event. The aim of the new programme is to increase their access, use and knowledge of ICT to facilitate their integration in and contribution to the information society.
Among the highlights of the new initiative is the Youth Education Scheme (YES) which will provide scholarships for young people, and ITU Telecom Youth Forums, which is launching a contest in which participants are asked to propose projects designed to integrate young people into the information society.
On Wednesday, as a precursor to Thursday's event, the ITU announced the winners of the World Information Society Award 2007. The gong has been created to honour individuals or institutions that have made a significant personal contribution to promoting, building, or strengthening a people-centred, development-oriented and knowledge-based information society.
This year's winners were Dr Margartie Cedeno de Fernandez, the First Lady of the Dominican Republic, for her personal contribution towards building an inclusive and equitable global information society, and Professor Dr Mark I. Krivocheev, chief scientist of the Radio Research Institute in Moscow, for his achievements in the technical development of television services and systems. The Mozilla Foundation was also awarded a gong for its contribution to the development of internet technologies and applications.
"In an increasingly networked world, the young are not only the beneficiaries but often the driving force behind the latest innovations and practices, and for many, the dependence on information and communication technologies (ICT) has come to determine their choice of lifestyle," said Hamadoun Toure, ITU secretary-general
"It is clearly our duty today to provide the opportunities of ICT to all children and youth, particularly to those who remain unconnected from the ongoing digital revolution," he added.
Closer to home, the ECDL Foundation offered its support for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day with the Foundation's CEO Damien O'Sullivan saying that giving young children the skills to access ICT in Ireland was 'empowering'.
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