I've been reading "Development and ICT4D - Too many pilot projects and not enough regular service" Amongst the stories of failures and success were references to helping farmers. This reminded me of Veronica (who is a teacher and a farmer in rural Nigeria). I thought I would share the story of her experience of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies).
I'm constantly baffled and bewildered by the gap that exists between what I read on the Internet about ICT4D, and the reality that I meet on the ground. I long to help bridge the gap between academics and practitioners. I was therefore delighted to discover a student exploring the topic, and saddened, but not surprised at his difficulties. He wrote:
It's only a few days until the Dadamac Foundation AGM, so I'm doing my final draft of the secretary's report. I'm glad that we've been able to respond to local needs and I'm delighted by the support we've been able to deliver, but there's more to it than that.
As usual, this week’s UK-Nigeria online meeting proved a real gem.
Feedback from John suggests the community is becoming used to the new realities of slow business output in the wake of the post-election conflict.
He reports that the Kafanchan Peace Market traders are gradually getting their businesses going again, with some of venturing into new businesses areas.
Twelve of the 27 traders are Muslims and these women have negotiated with Fantsuam Foundation to defer their loans until after Ramadan.
In recent blogs I have documented the loss of experienced staff from Fantsuam, mostly as a direct consequence of the recent troubles. However, a related ongoing problem which afflicts FF was explained by John. Once again he has lost another valuable member of his staff who has been offered five times the salary that FF can afford. This is a recurring problem for John. He trains people who have minimal skills but, by the time they have served their unofficial apprenticeship at Fantsuam, they have gained valuable experience and are poached by bigger organisations
This is because FF offers a fasttrack training and unique hands-on approach to integrated development. John reflected: “The way we are starting to look at this is that taking youths from Ground Zero to become employable by bigger organisations may be one of our callings - but it costs us so much."
The Peoples Open Access Education Initiative: Peoples-uni continues to go from strength to strength. It is now open for enrollments for the first semester 2010. It is offering 12 courses, including a new one, and one offered in two additional languages. Dadamac is proud to have been associated with People's Uni from its very earliest days. Professor Dick Heller (Coordinator of the Peoples-uni) has asked us to share the following information:
This is to tell you that we are now open for enrolments for the first semester 2010. We have 12 course modules, including one new 'Public Health Nutrition'. One of the modules, 'Public Health Concepts for Policy Makers' is also offered in French and Spanish versions.
We are learning the lessons from each semester as we go, and are working closely with Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK to try and develop a partnership that will allow students to receive an academic award from them on the basis of study with Peoples-uni. We remain on the lookout for other similar linkages. We have a further number of new modules in development, and various other plans and changes.
It's almost exactly ten years since I was first involved in communication between UK and Nigeria. In those days my friend, the late Peter Adetunji Oyawale, could only phone one person in his entire Oke-Ogun Community Development network. If we made a phone call it was to the landline of Chief Adetola, in the state capital Ibadan. What a contrast now. Today, from rural Ago-Are i got this text: "Mornin ma, my wiv gave birth 2 a bouncin baby boy yesterday afternoon, thanks Fola."
Not only did Fola send his information to me, via SMS he also went online through is phone and shared his news publicly through a couple of yahoo groups saying "Hi all, God gave my family a healthy,handsome,bouncing baby boy yesterday afternoon and I really wish to say this is God' revelation and manifestation in my new family. Thanks be to Him alone." The two groups be wrote to were LearningFromEachOther (one of the Minciu Sodas groups) and FantsuamSLD - self-directed learners (a group set up to demonstrate yahoo groups to participants on the SDL course in Fantsuam in 2008).
Professor Dick Heller, Dr John Dada and Pamela McLean collaborated on the foundation work for what subsequently became the Peoples Open Access Education Initiative: Peoples-uni - Building Public Health capacity using Internet-based e-learning.
I think that anyone in 21st century who is interested in studying development (as you are) must also be interested in the development of ICT (as you obviously are, given your input to Dadamac.net)
You might like to read The Googlenet has you By Martin J Young published in the online Asia Times.
Here is something that might be of interest to Dadamac and FF. I am pasting a press release that I got from my friend, who is a doctor in the US. Here goes:
Researchers from Makerere University and their collaborators from Norway, India, Ethiopia, South Africa, the United States and Pakistan unveiled openXdata at Kampala on November 12.