In this past week’s class discussions and readings we have looked at different sectors in the developing world for which ICTs have been introduced as a tool for development growth. My sector, Education, which I closely explored and analyzed the use of ICTs in that field has left me with some interesting questions about how to correctly use information communication technologies. Fortunately one of the readings assigned this week gave me a clear outline of how to correctly see if ICTs can be successful in a developing country, for a target population, and a specific sector.
The report ICT Enabled Development: Using ICT strategically to support Plan’s work written by Hannah Beardon is part of an ongoing process directed and supported by Plan Finland and USA to support offices located in a variety of African countries in an effort to promote ways to apply ICTs in a more resourceful and strategic way. While the organization Plan’s work details a variety of priorities in different countries they are however all founded on the principles of rights- based approaches with a focus on capacity building and participation awareness. They attempt to reinforce people’s “access to information and opportunities to participate in decision making” (Beardon 5). While their projects do involve the learning of children it doesn’t solely focus on the education sector. However in this report they introduce a checklist developed to thoroughly suggest key steps that are involved when enabling and implementing an ICT program in development. I found this checklist very crucial and extremely beneficial to looking at projects in the education sector.
The first point of the checklist looks at the Context Analysis, which really focuses on what is happening with ICT4D in the country or region of choice. Thus if I am looking at Uganda I will have to gather information about existing ICT projects in the education sector as well as current stakeholders and potential collaborators as well as current conditions (policy or market) in the city or country itself. The next point on the checklist focuses on Defining the Need, which emphasizes what problems can ICT help overcome as well as what kind of opportunities ICTs can introduce. When using this point for the education sector I would have to consider all of the underlying causes of poverty and the effects it has on schools and students. I then have to look into the needs of the stakeholders and see how ICTs can help with development opportunities. The next point on Plan’s checklist is Choosing a Strategy and looking at what kind of ICT4D is needed (direct, internal or strategic). In the case of education I will have to look at what kind of technical and training support is needed in the target schools as well as how to give equal opportunities and reduce inequalities between the rural and urban students. The fourth claim involves Undertaking a Participatory Communications Assessment, which further examines who will benefit most from this introduction of the ICT. This point is very important as ICT for development is used as a tool to reduce poverty and inequalities and in education children in rural areas are the hardest to reach. It is important to thoroughly pick a right form of technology that can help build the capacity needs of the target students. The fifth checkpoint on this checklist emphasizes the importance of Choosing the Technology. Technologies can already exist within a sector and a region however when creating an ICT development project you will need to assess which technology tool will be most useful to improve the quality life. In education, computers are by far as of today the most useful technology however there come some problems affiliated with using computers such as illiteracy (language barriers) as well as knowledge of how to use the computer itself. The sixth point again relates to Adjusting the Content, which in term relates again to language barriers. In most developing countries children have yet to see or use computers thus when they are introduced into classrooms they need to be guided into how to use the computer and understand the content. Teachers as well need to be taught the skills and content necessary in a language they comprehend. Number 7 on this list looks at Building and Using Capacity which further emphasizes the skills teachers and students will need to keep a project sustainable. The eighth point on the checklist involves Monitoring the Process. A crucial aspect of all development projects involves a Monitoring and Evaluation plan for which they measure the positive and negative affects of the project or in this case the ICT that is being implemented. For example in education testing and enrollment rates aren’t the only outcomes that should be measured, they should measure quality of teaching via ICTs. If the introduction of an ICT has no positive effect than it is important to reconsider how the project is being implemented. The final two points of this checklist focus on Keeping the Project Going (Sustainability) and Learning From Each Other and coincide with each other. By learning from each other, previous projects and the community, one can overcome the challenges and risks that may interfere with your ICT project. Thus it is important to continuously learn and adjust factors of the project to keep it sustainable.
This checklist created by Plan if followed correctly has the potential to help any organization or individual create and implement an ICT4D project correctly and sustainability. This checklist does not solely apply to the education sector as it is a guideline to overall programs and I believe should be used when trying to implement a project.