Internet in, crime out

Published: Thursday 15 July 2004

Public Telecentres Brazil

Cleber, a teenager who lives in one of the poorest parts of Sao Paulo, Brazil, has two brothers in jail. Cleber too may have followed his brothers in to crime, but for the public telecentre in his neighbourhood.

Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, is using the Internet and computers at the telecentres to keep its youngsters away from crime by providing them with jobs and teaching them computer courses. Cleber was first a visitor to the telecentre, and after learning programming now works for companies.

The city government has installed 106 telecentres in poor neighbourhoods, serving around 380,000 residents. A total of 80,000 people have so far been trained in basic computer skills, creating web sites, digital art and image processing.

Cidade Tiradentes, where Cleber lives, is one of Sao Paulo's most populous and violent neighbourhoods. But the local telecentre has "revitalised" the shantytown and given new life to shops and businesses. Around 180 people visit the telecentre in Cidade Tiradentes daily to take courses or use the net. Sixty per cent of those using the centres are under 16 -- an age group that is at risk of falling into drug use or crime.

The telecentres are part of a Brazillian government campaign to bring computers to the poor.

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