Grassroot education, collaboration between ICTs & MDGs?

Heeks’ views on the MDGs goals are very similar to my views.  Development projects aiming to accomplish MDGs should be guided by the head more than the heart. Sometimes the heart has good intentions, but success is not found. The industrialized gets richer by implementing projects that will advance their economy.  China’s work in Africa is a prime example. China claims to be helping with development in Africa by providing more work and improving its economy with more resources, but this isn’t true. Many Africans aren’t being hire by these Chinese companies, but these companies are bringing in their own people for labor. It is as if they are only using Africa for its resources and land. Philanthropy and social development aspects are only after-effects of these projects not the driving force behind them. As stated by Heeks, we should shift away from the hype of telecenters and e-government in remote regions where they will not be useful there. There isn’t proper infrastructure for these technologies in such rural places. The future of ICTs & the MDGs will rely on

  • Breaking the hegemony by leaving the one size fits all view
  • Back office implementation rather than front office implementation
  • Following the cowpaths by using things that already exists rather than develop new ideas

Three good ways to merge ICTs into development that can accomplish the MDGs is to use ICTs directly, indirectly, and strategically. We must provide access to these new technologies, but also improve the efficiency and connection between these technologies and the resources available in developing locations. In addition, we must strategically implement ICTs in a way to support development perhaps as a tool or resource hub. This I believe can be done through education.

  • We must engage users in the process. This will allow the population in question a way to voice their ideas, opinions, and state what they truly want rather than a “stranger” telling them what they need.
  • We must identify resources, tools, and trends that will help ensure better results. Background work will allow project leaders to understand and predict what methods will work and what methods won’t rather than just going in heads first.
  • Provide easy to understand and quick information to the population we are working with. This will promote advocacy for our project and gain more supports from those we are working to help.
  • Display transparency to ensure that countries are not implementing development projects with hidden agendas.

I think the idea of using grassroots methods to increase participation and success is needed for ICTs to work with the MDGs. This will build trust and cooperation among all those involved in a particular project, both those helping and those being helped.

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2 responses to “Grassroot education, collaboration between ICTs & MDGs?

  • zgoldmann

    I very much agree with most of this post. Namely the part about needing to engage users. Locals have much expertise to give, and extremely important voices that need to be heard.

    There is one part of your post though that I have a little bit of trouble with. “Many Africans aren’t being hire by these Chinese companies, but these companies are bringing in their own people for labor.” I understand where you are going with this. The companies aren’t using local labor and the majority of the profits are going to their citizens. That being said, some of these projects require an extremely high level of qualification/skill. And from my own personal experience, I know many, many people who have graduated from the top universities in their own developing countries that don’t have nearly the skill level or expertise to complete what is required of these projects.

    So while employing locals would be the ultimate goal, sometimes for the feasibility of the project, it just doesn’t make sense. That being said, the locals should always have a clear voice in any development project going on in their community.

    • npham2

      I agree with you. However, this all goes back to the idea of educating the locals. If we can educate them so they will be able to do the job then we should. These companies are coming into Africa stating that one of their primary target is to improve economic development in Africa, then they should take initiatives to do so. Educating locals will allow grassroots growth and create retainment of the skills needed for future developments.

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