Access to ICT Improves Quality of Life for Chinese Seniors

Image source: https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/Highlights%20&%20Features/EAP/China/cn_rural_ict_library.jpg/jcr:content/renditions/cq5dam.resized.400x267!.png

Image source: https://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/Highlights%20&%20Features/EAP/China/cn_rural_ict_library.jpg/jcr:content/renditions/cq5dam.resized.400×267!.png

China’s population is aging quickly, with 178 million people in the country over 60 in 2010. Coupled with the trend towards urban migration, senior citizens are often left behind in rural areas and do not have access to ICTs, thereby excluding them from a major part of Chinese society.

The World Bank and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation saw an opportunity to improve this situation by connecting public libraries. They jointly produced a report called “Fostering a Digitally Inclusive Aging Society in China: the Potential of Public Libraries.” The results of this report concluded that libraries could, in fact, “make an important contribution in providing access to electronic information and training in digital literacy.”

Natasha Beschorner, Senior ICT Policy Specialist, further notes, “China’s vast network of public libraries has the potential of becoming important hubs for the rural elderly to develop digital skills, stay connected with families and access online services—whether information about health, new skills, financial services, or practical advice.”

Finally, the World Bank recommended further research on the needs of seniors in the country, collaboration among stakeholders, increased opportunities for digital literacy training for seniors in public libraries and other locations, among other suggestions. Finally, they proposed pilot projects for connecting libraries.

Source: The World Bank