More than 600 million people worldwide have some sort of access to the internet.
That is an astonishing number, and reflects the rapid growth of the network since it was
invented in the 1970s.
However, that still leaves about 5.5 billion people who do not use the net and who have no
Most of these people live outside the developed Western countries. While over half of UK
households are online, only 0.1% of homes in Bangladesh can claim the same.
Few politicians now talk about the digital divide as a major development issue, and there is a
growing sense that it is yesterday's problem.
As the cost of computers and of network connectivity has come down in the West, there is an
unexamined assumption that the network is on its way to being generally available to all who
This is not the case. The gap in the access to and use of the latest information and
communications technologies - computers, mobile phones, digital networks, even interactive
television - is as wide as ever, and the consequences are being felt in all the poorer parts of
It may seem inappropriate to consider access to technology in the same light as access to
other resources, like clean water, adequate health care, sufficient food, or educational
opportunities, all of which are thought to have priority in development plans.
However, it does not make sense to separate things out this way. If the growth of the net in
the West has demonstrated anything it has shown how access to information and
communications opportunities has an impact on all aspects of life.
Tools to learn
While getting internet access to remote hill villages in the Andes or in India may not be as
important in itself as getting clean water or effective healthcare, the net - through e-mail or
the web - is often a gateway to other resources and to self-reliance.
A mother who is worried about her child's health can find out about childhood illnesses.
A farmer can take a beetle he finds on his crop and check it against a comprehensive
catalogue on a CD-Rom in his village.
Children can learn about local history, world events or scientific advances in school, using
resources that would never be available in print because of the cost and the problems of
Perhaps it is time to update the old adage: "If you give me a fish, you feed me for a day. If
you teach me to fish you feed me for life."
Maybe it should now say: "If you give me information, you answer one of my questions. If you
get me online, you let me answer my questions for myself."
Source: BBC News World Edition (Internet), 6 October 2002
Work on a total of three tasks.
Tasks 1 and 2 are compulsory. Choose one task from 3.
1 Outline the impact modern technology has on developing countries as described in
“Why the Poor Need Technology” in no more than 150 words. (30%)
2 Describe the photos and analyze how they underline the message of the text. (30%)
3 A Compare the impact of modern communication and information technology as
described in “Why the Poor Need Technology” (text and photos) to the impact of
other aspects of globalization on developing countries. (40%)
3 B You have applied for a job with a computer company and are now invited to the firm’s
assessment centre where you are tested. In one of those tests you are asked to write
a text describing “how access to information and communications opportunities has
an impact on all aspects of life” (Bill Thompson, ll. 22/23).
Refer to “Why the Poor Need Technology” and your knowledge about the issue
concerning both developing and industrialized countries, including your own
3 C “Perhaps it is time to update the old adage: ‘If you give me a fish, you feed me for a
day. If you teach me to fish you feed me for life.’
Maybe it should now say: ‘If you give me information, you answer one of my
questions. If you get me online, you let me answer my questions for myself.’ ”
Explain the quotation and discuss whether this is true of developing countries only or
whether the quotation is valid as well for other societies that demand lifelong selfsupported
You are expected to write at least 500 words in no more than 240 minutes.
Source: Berlin: Senatsverwaltung f. Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung