Digital Equality Integrated Social Programme
The Digital Equality programme is the most ambitious and important integrated social programme created and developed by Rostelecom to more effectively solve significant societal challenges in digital transformation. The pilot phase of the programme was successfully implemented in several Russian regions, and the projects were deployed in most regions covered by Rostelecom in 2018.
The Digital Equality programme comprises Rostelecom’s socially significant and successful projects: ABC of the Internet, Growth, Learn the Internet — Manage It!, Social Impact Award, Internet for Social Infrastructure Facilities, Computerisation of Orphanages, and Distance Learning for Disabled Children. In 2018, the nationwide projects Proektoria, Quantorium, and Sirius joined the Digital Equality programme.
Non-profit organisations are not only actively engaged in the Digital Equality programme but are major partners in a number of our projects. The Company also works closely with development institutes and infrastructure partners, universities, educational institutions, and ministries, including the Russian Ministry of Education and Science and the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media. Rostelecom employees are active volunteers for all projects within the programme.
Digital Equality projects are aimed at improving the quality of life through expanding opportunities in the following areas:
- Access to the latest telecommunications technology
- Improving education in telecommunications
- Engaging in social interaction and applying acquired skills in practice
Areas of the Digital Equality programme:
- Providing access to communications and modern technology
- Connecting remote and low income towns and villages to the internet
- Connecting child care services and institutions to the internet
- Providing a free 8-800 federal number
- Computerisation of child care services and institutions
- Computer skills training for senior citizens
- Developing and supporting training portals
- Distance learning
- Ensuring internet security for children, seniors, and other vulnerable groups
- Career guidance with a focus on the telecoms industry
- Promoting social enterprise
ABC of the Internet, an educational project developed with the Pension Fund of the Russian Federation in 2014, aims to guide senior citizens and people with special needs to access public e-government services via the internet and improve their quality of life through the general use of computers and the internet. We are constantly developing course content for ABC of the Internet and adding new modules and up-to-date information on the most popular topics. The content is defined by course participants and internet users.
An electronic version of the guide is available on the training portal established within the project. The course comprises 14 chapters and includes training materials. Guidelines on teaching senior citizens basic computer and internet skills, visual aids, presentations, and useful links are also available on the portal.
All ABC of the Internet programme materials are available for download and consistently updated and supplemented. The site contains a version for the visually impaired.
The new training module of Rostelecom’s and the Pension Fund’s ABC of the Internet programme is Video Communication over the Internet. This next part of the course contains an overview of software used for communicating on the internet via webcam. During the course, students become familiar with the most widely used programmes for video communication, including the differences and functions of each and how to install them. Students can also refresh their knowledge of safe internet use when browsing and particularly when making video calls.
Rostelecom and the Pension Fund of Russia developed another training module to teach basic tablet computer skills in 2018. The module provides detailed information on the distinctive features and basic skills needed to use tablets, describes the capabilities of app stores with recommendations on how to safely install new applications, and contains detailed guidance on choosing a tablet.
Rostelecom’s corporate volunteers are actively engaged in the ABC of the Internet project, which has not only enabled the project to be facilitated by an ample number of volunteers, but has also raised the number of Rostelecom employees involved in the Company’s social projects. Our volunteers organised computer skills trainings on a mass scale during their off-hours at the Company offices.
ABC of the Internet in Kalmykia
In July 2018, another group of 16 people completed the ABC of the Internet course in computer skills at the Republican Centre of Integrated Social Services in the city of Elista. Since the launch of the project in June 2016, over 400 senior citizens in the Kalmykia Republic have learned the basics of using computers, text applications, and photo editors, and got to know how to use the internet and communicate on social networks. The nationwide ABC of the Internet project is run in Kalmykia through the Republican Centre of Integrated Social Services. About ten to twenty senior citizens complete the course every month.
ABC of the Internet in Orel
2018 marked eight years since Rostelecom began training Orel seniors on how to use the internet. During this time, 2,500 Orel residents completed the ABC of the Internet course. Rostelecom’s training process is aimed at providing computer skills for using the public services (e-government) portal. These skills are crucial for senior citizens, as over one hundred federal, regional, and municipal public services in the Orel Region are provided electronically.
The nationwide contest Thanks to the Internet 2018!
Within the ABC of the Internet programme, Rostelecom holds the nationwide contest for seniors’ personal achievements in computer skills, Thanks to the Internet!, aimed at increasing the number of users on the public services portal (Gosuslugi), promoting an active senior lifestyle, and encouraging widespread computer literacy training among senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Nine contestants are over the age of 90 — eight men and one woman. At 91 years old, Boris Stepanov, a resident of Marks in the Saratov Region, said that he communicates with his family via Skype, gets the weather forecast on the internet, plays online chess, and researches his hobby:
Another eight participants in the course above 90 years of age from other Russian regions have shared their experiences. Organisers noted an increased interest among elderly users to study software, and further encouraged them to lead an active life.
Ninety-year-old Nikolay Ivanov, Ph.D. in biology from Saint Petersburg, won third place in the My Internet Achievements category. In his entry, he retold how the internet helps him prepare and give lectures on living a healthy life.
For the third year in a row, the Republic of Tatarstan won the Most Active Region category with 506 participants. The Voronezh Region takes second place with 331 participants, and the Moscow Region is third with 179 participants.
Growth is a distance learning project to promote development, education, socialisation, and employment, run jointly by Rostelecom and Autonomous Non-Сommercial Organisation ROST. The project was developed for children in orphanages and foster homes, as well as those deprived of parental care, providing children with access to quality individual education over the internet and a healthy social environment while paving the way towards gainful employment in the future. Special digital educational materials such as electronic textbooks combining various kinds of educational text, interactive theoretical and practical materials, video tutorials, and audio and video commentaries from teachers have been developed for the project.
During Rostelecom’s partnership with ROST, many children have successfully passed exams to enter various educational institutions.
Rostelecom’s support enabled a presidential grant, following which the number of students participating in the Growth project during the 2017/2018 school year increased dramatically.
During the school year, 67 students (38.4% of all Growth project participants) passed the state exams: Forty-five students passed the ninth grade and twenty-two passed the eleventh grade. All eleventh-grade graduates successfully passed the national Unified State Exam and got the opportunity to enrol for tertiary education. Of those who passed the state exam, 42 students received grades that exceeded expectations.
Rostelecom and the youth volunteer organisation AIESEC have been jointly running the IT Growth project for five years, helping students improve their IT knowledge. Media security was the project’s main topic in 2018, with the goal of teaching the history of the internet, types of malware, methods of protecting against viruses, types of fraud, and how to competently navigate the information space. For six weeks, lectures and master classes were conducted by foreign volunteers from ten countries in seven Russian cities.
In running the IT Growth project together, AIESEC and Rostelecom create an innovative educational environment that meets the demand of IT companies for highly qualified specialists and school graduates wishing to master skills in one of the fastest growing industries. The project contributes to increasing the number of young people who possess the technical knowledge and skills needed to become successful professionals in the IT industry in the near future. The project provides seminars, master classes, career guidance classes, and excursions.
Learn the Internet — Manage It! is a socio-educational project for school students using a modern interactive format to teach the basics of the internet, its tools, and capabilities. The project is organised by the Coordination Center for TLD RU and PJSC Rostelecom.
Provided in an accessible and entertaining format, the project offers education on the internet, the operation of basic IT services, and safe surfing. The project also includes a training app for mobile devices to improve and maintain the knowledge gained. Based on the project, IT marathons and quizzes are held, as well as the main event of each year — the Nationwide Online Championship on Cyber Literacy, where each participant can compete for top places and valuable prizes.
By the Safe Runet Week 2018 — the main Russian event dedicated to safe and positive use of digital technology — PJSC Rostelecom, together with the Coordination Center for TLD RU had launched a new game module within the Learn the Internet — Manage It! educational project about phishing.
Learn the Internet — Manage It! in Altai
From 23 to 30 June 2018, the 7th International Forum Electronic Week in Altai — 2018 events took place in Barnaul and its suburbs. This is one of the largest IT events in the region, a professional educational platform for sharing experience and discussing the latest IT applications across all fields and industries. The Coordination Center for TLD RU and PJSC Rostelecom were partners of the week.
Within 60 minutes, participants had to complete tasks of varying levels of complexity based on the key IT trends of 2018 and technology of the future: robotics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, blockchain technology, virtual and augmented reality, telemedicine, and cyber security. School students also had the opportunity to improve their results by completing additional tasks: conducting online tournament training for Learn the Internet — Manage It! at school, or posting news about the championship on social media, at school, or in the local media.
Libraries continue to play a significant role in modern life, particularly in remote regions. However, insufficient book stock at libraries remains a critical issue. This can be easily solved by providing these institutions with high-speed internet. We understand the significant role libraries play in societal development and therefore lay a strong focus on connecting them to the internet.
Internet for Social Infrastructure Facilities in Vladimir
In May 2018, Rostelecom presented a platform integrating library and information centre resourcesA platform integrating library and information resources is a comprehensive automated IT solution that includes an electronic library, a unified reporting system, a media player, and other features, and provides access to various types of educational resources such as textbooks, books, journals, popular science periodicals, dictionaries, and manuals. The content can be played both online and offline on personal computers and tablets.at the School Libraries section of the All-Russian Library Congress in Vladimir. The main topic of the congress was, «Based on the past, we build the future. The role of cultural heritage in transforming library science in Russia.» The event’s aim was to develop a concept for library development in the Russian Federation.
Internet for Social Infrastructure Facilities in the Voronezh Region
In 2018, Rostelecom became the provider of the Digital School of the Voronezh Region project, connecting 773 regional institutions to the internet. The Company will provide the internet to 773 regional institutions of general and professional education in four stages. The work will be completed in April 2020.
Internet in the library of an old Karelian village
The Company focuses on providing the internet to the libraries in remote settlements. At the end of August, Rostelecom’s Karelia Branch connected a general education school in the village of Voknavolok to the internet. The indigenous settlement is located in the north of the Republic of Karelia, 59 km from the town of Kostomuksha. Following the connection, school students and teachers got access to the internet at a speed of up to 10 Mbps.
Within the Computerisation of Orphanages project, Rostelecom provides children with computer equipment and communication tools to learn from the most up-to-date information resources. The project helps school students learn how to solve various practical challenges using advanced information and communication technologies, ICT tools, and open information sources that will be useful when choosing a future profession.
Computerisation of Orphanages in Irkutsk
In January 2018, schoolchildren of Irkutsk Boarding School No. 8 for visually impaired students received special equipment for the computer lab as a gift from Rostelecom. Now, visually impaired and blind schoolchildren have more possibilities for studying computer technology, mastering the internet and new software applications.
Thanks to Rostelecom’s Distance Learning for Disabled Children project, children with disabilities study the school curriculum at home. Teachers participating in the project take special courses to provide distance education for school subjects. Students are taught in real time through interactive video lessons, during which teachers guide students and evaluate their progress.
Distance learning in the Perm Territory
In 2018, Rostelecom and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Perm Territory signed a government contract to organise distance learning for children with special needs. Under the contract, Rostelecom will create jobs for training and provide access to educational resources and information systems of the internet.
As part of the project, 41 more children will receive a set of the latest equipment: a computer, a microphone, headphones, a graphics tablet, a printer and scanner, a digital camera, a digital microscope, and a set of equipment for physical testing and physiological observations. Software and hardware sets for teachers providing the children’s education will be also installed at 14 schools in the region. The highly qualified teachers involved in this project have received special training and possess the necessary skills and educational practices to ensure a quality education for children with special needs.
Distance learning in Dagestan
In Dagestan, Rostelecom provided access to the internet for schoolchildren with developmental disabilities. Rostelecom specialists connected the home computers of 486 children to a distance learning centre in Makhachkala. The internet access also includes protection against inappropriate content. In accordance with internet security standards, the system restricts sources containing information prohibited by Russian laws. The project was implemented under a government contract with the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Dagestan.
Distance learning in the Republic of Mari El
In the village of Kuchka in the Republic of Mari El, a dish with an amplifier station was installed in 2018 on the front of 11-year-old Diana Shevnyakova’s house to receive signals from a nearby cell tower for her distance learning. The signal reaches Diana’s home computer via a network cable. The internet connection speed is up to 10 Mbps.
Social Impact Award (SIA) is an international programme promoting social enterprise among young people, developed in 2010 by the University of Vienna with participation from the international Impact Hub network.
Social Impact Award is preceded by an incubation programme, which tracks the quality of social projects and identifies potential grant recipients.
For the fourth year in a row, Rostelecom announced a special category within the contest — Internet for a Better World. It involves project creators using internet technology as a foundation for creating their product or a key tool in promoting their ideas.
In Russia, four projects competed in Rostelecom’s Internet for a Better World category: SkillsBooster, a project aimed at teaching and employing young IT specialists (Saint Petersburg); Goody, an online platform for requesting and providing help (Moscow); LifeTalk, an application and online course for learning sign language (Ufa); and YouTalk, a service providing psychological help (Moscow). The winner was the start-up YouTalk, which provides an opportunity for different groups of people, including those with limited mobility, to receive psychological support online.
The internet can be a helping hand for non-commercial organisations to achieve financial sustainability by opening up new sales opportunities (within legal restrictions), informing more people, and attracting more funds to the organisation’s activities. Impact Hub’s Internet for a Better World programme hosts webinars and provides IT support for non-commercial organisations. Preparation for the competition involves open seminars, video lectures, and master classes covering key topics from researching a target audience to writing a business plan. The programme is aimed at supporting the IT initiatives of pre-selected non-commercial organisations by ensuring their stable collaboration with involved IT specialists.
The Proektoria nationwide career guidance forum (formerly — Future Intellectual Leaders of Russia) brings together experts from major Russian companies and universities, the country’s best teachers, and motivated school students to solve current issues in career guidance and self-determination. The project has several different formats — open lessons, career festivals (ProfProba), as well as a final forum in Yaroslavl. Each lesson is held as an online broadcast simultaneously participated in by more than 20 thousand schools and connecting four Russian regions via teleconference. Rostelecom provides technological support and high-quality digital services for the project at each stage. For more details see website.
Proektoria in Yaroslavl
Rostelecom was a partner of the Proektoria nationwide career guidance forum held in Yaroslavl from 11 to 14 December 2018. During the Forum, Rostelecom specialists told school students about the trends in digital economy development and the professions most in-demand by the industry, gave lectures on the importance of protecting information, demonstrated their own Cyber Security Centre, and held practical exercises on building a smart school network.
Quantorium children’s technopark is a modern form of additional education for schoolchildren. It is aimed at reviving the prestige of engineering and scientific professions and training future highly qualified personnel in this area.
Children’s technoparks are being built across Russia on the instructions of the President within the Russian Government priority project, Accessible Additional Education for Children. Rostelecom is launching its own initiative to support this focus area in all Russian regions. At Quantorium, Rostelecom opens demonstration zones for innovative developments. For example, in a number of Quantoriums, the Company built a zone for a Smart Home system to show schoolchildren an out-of-the-box solution for ensuring safety and comfort of housing, and enabling the household to be monitored around the clock in real time. For more details on Quantorium technopark see website.
Quantorium in North Ossetia
Rostelecom connected the Quantorium children’s technopark in Vladikavkaz to the internet at a reduced tariff. At the Company’s own expense, specialists laid a fibre-optic communications line with a capacity of up to 100 Mbps. Rostelecom also provided Wi-Fi access at the technopark.
Quantorium in Kaluga
Rostelecom’s Kaluga Branch began cooperating with the Quantorium children’s technopark, opened on 13 December 2018 in Kaluga. The Company provided the technopark with internet access and equipment for the project activities section. Rostelecom’s smart stands, featuring a Smart Home interactive game and an extensive electronic library, help children master interaction with advanced intelligent systems and succeed in personal development using digital technology.
Under the project, Rostelecom employees hold open lessons on the Safe Internet among schoolchildren, at parent-teacher conferences, and training seminars for teachers. The Company actively runs its long-term project on safe internet in a number of federal districts, and intends to scale up and roll out the project in all regions of the Company’s operation.
The project’s goal is to develop skills for competent, safe, and responsible online behaviour among younger generations, as well as raise awareness of the need to inform children and parents of threats, personal data and computer protection methods, and the legal, social, and psychological consequences of inappropriate behaviour on the internet. The target audience of the project are schoolchildren and their parents, and the second largest audience will soon be the older generation. The project is focused on the following internet risks:
- Dangerous content
- Meeting online strangers
- Cyber fraud and viruses
- Internet addiction
Safe Internet in the Vologda Region
As part of the nationwide Secure Internet campaign, classes on internet security are held annually for school students from grades 5 through 9. One of these lessons was held at the Musorskaya school of the Sheksninsky district in the Vologda Region. The schoolchildren learned how internet resources are protected from malicious content. For example, all Rostelecom’s subscribers have had a content filter since 2015. It is actively used in schools throughout the Vologda Region. The programme blocks forbidden websites, certain content in web pages, and pop-ups, filters text queries in a search engine, protects resources from malicious programmes, and analyses URL requests. A separate topic with the schoolchildren were threats they might encounter on the internet, such as phishing, spam, and trolling. The children were taught how to protect themselves from negative content and malicious software, as well as use their personal data smartly and maintain confidentiality and civility when communicating with other users. Internet security classes are held in the region’s schools throughout the school year.
Safe Internet in Ulyanovsk
Rostelecom’s Ulyanovsk Branch organised a lecture, Safe Internet, for the students at Special (Correctional) Comprehensive School No. 39 in Ulyanovsk. The Company’s employees told the children about modern types of online threats and ways to protect computers and mobile devices from malicious programmes and online fraudsters. A quiz was held at the end to help solidify the information. Over 20 children took part in the event. The Ulyanovsk Branch plans to continue engaging with the school in 2019, during which the branch will hold Safe Internet lectures and an excursion for the students to the Rostelecom office.
Safe Internet in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk
Safe Internet lessons are held at secondary schools in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk twice a year. They are organised by PJSC Rostelecom, the Ministry of Education of the Sakhalin Region, and administrations of the schools involved in the project.
The organisers of Rostelecom’s Classroom Internet contest aim to use the wide variety of opportunities and resources on the internet to make the real world more interesting, bringing practical benefits and supporting self-development. The main goal of the contest is to guide schoolchildren and teachers in using and becoming accustomed with various kinds of internet technology. Classroom Internet has been running since 2015. For more details see website.
In 2018, a series of webinars for teachers on the use of modern technology in the classroom were held as part of the contest, with the topics of: blended learning technology, development and use of digital workbooks, and information visualisation technology using electronic teaching aids. Blended learning is a modern educational approach drawing on the concept of combining classroom learning and e-learning based on new didactic opportunities provided by ICT and modern teaching aids, was discussed at webinars.
Given the strong interest in the subject, Rostelecom will continue to hold webinars for teachers on technology in the classroom.
Sirius Educational Centre was established in Sochi by the Talent and Success Educational Foundation based on Olympic infrastructure at the initiative of the Russian President for the early detection, development, and further professional support of gifted children who have shown outstanding abilities in the arts, sports, and natural sciences, as well as those who succeed in technical creativity. 800 children aged 10 to 17 years from across Russia come to Sirius every month. They are accompanied by more than 100 teachers and trainers. The educational programme lasts 24 days and includes both occupational lessons and leisure activities such as master classes, creative meetings with professionals recognised in their fields, a variety of recreational activities, as well as general education during the school year. Rostelecom was invited as a partner to develop specialised programmes and projects on information security, education, and new technology for the Centre.
For more details on Sirius Educational Centre see website.
In November 2018, the first educational programme on cyber security for schoolchildren was held at Sirius, supported by representatives of the IT Education Development Centre of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), and Rostelecom’s Department of Talent Management. The programme was attended by 60 schoolchildren in grades 8 through 11 from 27 Russian regions of Russia, who had won the nationwide online competition held by the digital services operator in September 2018. They scored maximum points and were interviewed by Rostelecom experts. Within one month, high school students were tasked with mastering a set of tools, strategies, and principles ensuring cyberspace protection.
Sirius for the winners of the Cyberchallenge
In September 2018, Rostelecom held the nationwide Cyberchallenge Competition on information security. Its participants were schoolchildren in grade 8 through 11 skilled in programming. A total of 4,300 schoolchildren participated from most regions of Russia and the CIS countries. For several days, the children competed for a place among the 80 finalists. Tasks on searching for web vulnerabilities and cryptography proved popular among the contestants. The Cyberchallenge contestants also noted the high level of the event’s organisation and the lack of triviality in the proposed tasks. 60 winners won a trip to Sirius Educational Centre in Sochi.
The Rostelecom Lyceum project is a service for schoolchildren and their parents offering a wide choice of educational courses and supplements. The platform provides high-quality, safe, and accessible extracurricular activities and courses, such as courses preparing for the OGE (Basic State Exam) and the EGE (Unified State Exam) and deepening knowledge in any subject, including English. The system can provide career guidance and help to find a suitable university, while a personal curator can help choose a development programme for a child and answer any questions from the parents. Class schedules and student performance can be tracked in the personal account on the portal. Top education specialists are involved in the Lyceum project, which helps guarantee positive results.
All details on the Rostelecom Lyceum platform are available at website.
In 2018, more than 500 children aged 12 to 16 years from Krasnoyarsk and Abakan took part in the Useful Internet seminars. Specialists from Rostelecom’s Krasnoyarsk Branch have been contributing their efforts to this educational project for three years now. Its goal is to foster a conscious attitude towards virtual reality among teenagers.
At the Useful Internet lessons, Rostelecom volunteers acquaint children with interesting facts from the history of the internet and talk about the basics of cyber security and the rules of online etiquette. A significant part of the Useful Internet seminar is dedicated to social media addiction and ways to prevent and overcome it. Events are held as a live discussion.
This year, the Useful Internet course went beyond schools and children’s summer camps and successfully joined the programme of the Summer in Krasnoyarsk youth leisure project implemented with the support of the city administration. Rostelecom held here a series of exclusive educational seminars for teenagers. Over 70 children took part in events held in July and August. Rostelecom specialists interacted with teenagers in an exciting way intended to make them feel like they were on a roller coaster ride. After a thorough and almost academic immersion into the history of communications in the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the origins of the communications specialist profession, based on the corporate museum, the children took part in a hot debate on cyber security during the Useful Internet seminar.
Summer in Krasnoyarsk is an innovative project organising productive leisure for teenagers staying in the city for the summer holidays. Together with the city’s largest enterprises, exclusive excursions for children on local history, education, and career guidance have been specially developed. The project is unique and currently unparalleled in Russia.
Rostelecom was the telecoms partner for the 2018 Mashuk North Caucasus Youth Forum held in Pyatigorsk. The Company provided participants and organisers with wired and wireless internet access with a data transfer capacity of up to 20 Gbps.
As always, Rostelecom’s interactive stand was very popular among all participants. The Company held dozens of World of Tanks tournaments, intellectual competitions, and table football championships.