Aug 27, 2007
In 2002, the IICD-supported project ‘ICT Basic Training’ (IBAT) was launched at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda. Throu...
In 2002, the IICD-supported project ‘ICT Basic Training’ (IBAT) was launched at Kyambogo University in Kampala, Uganda. Through this project, an ICT training centre equipped with 42 computers was set up to train student-teachers and lecturers for the duration of a full semester course. Aside from being taught basic computer skills they were also shown how to use ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) in the standard curriculum.
In July 2007, after five years, the project was successfully integrated into the University’s curriculum. During the final stage of this process, a discussion took place about the number of students and lecturers who had been introduced to ICTs via this project. A chaotic and protracted debate ensued in which various figures were bandied about, ranging from 6,000 to about 25,000. This discrepancy did not arise from the fact that it was impossible to say how many participants actually took part in the training courses (according to the registration figures, this was 6,200), but rather because it was difficult to estimate with any accuracy the total number of people who had benefited, both directly and indirectly, from the project. First of all, it is not known which percentage of the student-teachers actually uses these skills once they become a teacher. A short survey revealed that 65% of the participants are reaching out to an average of 50 students a year. Secondly, at any university the average computer is not being used by just one student at a time: students who are entitled to go for training have been taking along their friends, brothers, nephews, etc...
In sub-Saharan Africa there is a concept called “Ubuntu”. This concept is difficult to translate: it means something like ‘an individual only exists because of others’.
Nelson Mandela explained Ubuntu as follows: “A traveller through our country would stop at a village, and he didn't have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food, entertain him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu but Ubuntu has various aspects. Ubuntu does not mean that people should not enrich themselves. The question therefore is: “Are you going to do so in order to enable the community around you to improve?”
In other words, Ubuntu when applied to telecentres or computer labs could be taken to mean: ‘If you are entitled to use a computer, you should also take your friends and family to this new world’. Therefore, every time I walk into such a centre and see that the ratio computers:users is 1:3 (or worse) I think two things: “More computers are needed” and “Ubuntu in practice”.
Aug 22, 2007
It’s quite exciting to be part of a process that is causing a buzz in the ICT4Development circles. When I came on board more ...
It’s quite exciting to be part of a process that is causing a buzz in the ICT4Development circles. When I came on board more actively as part of the IICD team working on the upcoming Web2forDev conference (www.web2fordev.net), I was keen and curious to see what the conference would bring. But now, with still more than a month to go before the conference, I am already very excited – by the discussions going on online among participants and interested parties, by the diverse use of web 2.0 tools for exchanging and collaborating, by the stats!
Launched in March of this year by the collective of organisations working to harness the potential of Web 2.0 (or Social Networking) tools to support networking, collaborating and exchanging knowledge in agriculture, rural development and natural resources management, the acronym ‘Web2forDev’ has taken on a life of its own. If you searched for the term Web2forDev in Google 5 months ago, it returned a few relevant pages and information. Three months later when I searched again, it returned 39,000 results of pages that referred to the conference or the concept, people that were discussing the conference on their blogs, people that were critically assessing the potential and limitations of Web 2.0 tools for development, people that were passing information about the conference on to other networks and so on. Googling the term today returned 102,000 results!
Working with the collaborating partners and IICD-associated participants is equally as exciting. Representative members from the National ICT4D Networks IICD-supported countries are excited and gearing up to go. Bringing the stories, experiences and information needs from the members of their respective networks to the conference, and bringing the newly generated and collected knowledge and experiences back to their networks, they have a big job ahead of them! With 250 participants projected to attend the conference, and topics for discussion as varied as virtual spaces, (remote) collaboration, knowledge sharing, online publishing, and information retrieval and access, the potential for new knowledge creation is enormous. Already we as organisers have been using a vast array of tools to make possible the coordination of this event, including discussion groups, skype, wiki’s, Sharepoint, and more. Organisers and participants have been sharing their thoughts, suggestions and critiques using Dgroups, have been adding stories and experiences to the conference blogs, have been using a common tag to share relevant readings and resources and participants (social bookmarking), and have been disseminating information using RSS feeds. Relatively new online social networking sites are being used to network participants and get a sense for Who is Who before we all meet in person at the conference itself.
As one of the IICD staff working on the conference and coordination, I increasingly feel that we are part of a larger movement. A movement that combines concern for and belief in development, passion for the potential of technology, and wisdom gained from practical application and experience. And that I find exciting!