Saturday, October 15, 2005

I.T and the knowledge driven economy

The initial phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was hosted by the Swiss government some years back and a broad range of themes concerning the information society was addressed culminating in the adoption of a declaration of principles and plan of action. This was widely perceived as the foundation for better informed societies which of course is an indispensable ingredient for stable economies in our present information-driven world that is taking advantage of fast reliable gigabit data networks, IP telephony (VOIP) and global satellite communications and positioning technologies such as Galileo, the much publicized European version of GPS. African nations, more or less called developing nations (or third world countries as we’ve been christened) certainly stand to benefit more from this transcontinental initiative.

The pace of change brought about by information, communication and other technologies has had a significant effect on the way people live, work, and play worldwide. New and emerging technologies challenge the traditional process of teaching and learning, and the way education is managed. Information technology, while an important area of study in its own right, is having a major impact across all curriculum areas. Easy worldwide communication provides instant access to a vast array of data, challenging assimilation and assessment skills. Rapid communication, plus increased access to IT in the home, at work, and in educational establishments, could mean that learning becomes a truly lifelong activity—an activity in which the pace of technological change forces constant evaluation of the learning process itself.

The benefits of an informed society can not be overemphasized. Even the government will have to worry less about its citizens when they have been adequately exposed to constantly evolving technologies that have totally redefined the way we think, work, live and recreate as foremost creatures of God’s divine creation. A vivid example is the nation that has assumed the status of ‘world police’. One reason the United States government can afford to vest so much time, energy and finance into other nations and provide cross continental is simply because she has in place a solid well structured information system that adequately caters for the needs of her highly esteemed citizenry.
Reliable statistics show that in the United States, with a population of about three hundred million (300 000 000), there are approximately 4000 internet hosts per 10 000 people. That’s an incredible 5 persons to 2 on-line computers!

I however need to clarify that I do recognize the efforts of industry and government in improving the standard of education and ICT awareness in the country. Worthy of mention is the annual sponsorship of the NACOSS software exhibition/competition amounting to six figures by System-Specs, a Lagos based Software Company
However, if developed nations such as the United Kingdom and America still vote several hundred million sterling and greenbacks annually for I.T education purposes, then our government can definitely still do a lot more in infiltrating I.T deep into the core of the society and amongst the youths of this great nation. A worthy example is an educational information technology initiative in the U.K known as the National Grid for Learning (NGfL), launched by the British Prime Minister, Mr. Tony Blair. The NGfL is an interconnected nationwide computer learning network for use in schools, further education, higher education, libraries and even homes which provides a range of educational resources and functions as a forum for the world of education.

In a time when wealth has become a direct function of both the knowledge you possess and the speed at which you can access information, I can establish the fact that there is a critical need for government to invest much more than ever before in enlightening her citizenry on the importance and possibilities of information technology. Recent Statistics have shown that about forty-three percent (43%) of the 130 million Nigerian population fall under 15 years of age and more than half are certainly youths, hence, the need for youths harnessing such tools as information technology for socio-economic development is of extreme importance..

In conclusion, I would like to state that for us as a nation to achieve sustained economic growth and stability, we must with a sense of patriotism and a strong will to succeed take out the challenges facing us as a nation. I strongly urge government, industry and well meaning Nigerians to give their unwitting support to youth empowerment initiatives especially in the field of information technology so that we can be rest assured that a bright future indeed, awaits Nigeria.
Long live I.T, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the African Union .

Monday, October 03, 2005

the voice of our rural youth contemporaries

I can select two keywords in the above heading. The first is ‘youths’ and the other is ‘rural’.
The word youths can be attributed to mean the period of human life between childhood and maturity; the state of being young; or better still the early age of life.
The other word, Rural connotes ‘outside the city or in the country’; ‘typical of the country’; and could also have some relationship with agriculture. It could also involve farming. If you do the math, rural youths are simply young individuals in the period of human life between childhood and maturity that happen to be living outside the city or urban areas. Many of them live deep in the country and when I say country, I mean the vast under-developed geographic areas of a country where the primary source of living is agriculture.

According to a 1997 study by FAO, rural youths are among the most disadvantaged of the poor. These young people grow in restricted, traditional, social and cultural environments, with limited opportunities for education. Often, the education they receive, designed from a predominantly urban perspective is not closely related to their environment. They are offered little support in seeking a more in-depth knowledge of their environment or ways of improving their own communities.

In our society today, we know that anyone who desires to make a point or express an opinion must either be well connected, possess some form of influence or affluence, or be overcome with some resilience and desire to make an impact which must certainly be borne out of exposure, experience and quality education. We all know that these three gems are indeed rare amongst rural dwellers particularly youths. Rural youths are not afforded quality education, lack exposure and experience, and are certainly ill equipped to compete with those in the ‘developed’ and ‘enlightened’ society. Its not news that there are thousands of potentials wasting away in our rural communities but the fact however remains that resources not harnessed certainly waist away. As long as rural youths are not afforded quality education and adequate exposure to current trends in the newly emerging technology society, they will remain locked out of the ever dynamic urban controlled society.


We all know that the bulk of the country's resources particularly, the country's land, natural and mineral resources are in the Rural Areas. If we are to embark on true development, it is logical that we spread the process where the bulk of the population and the bulk of our resources are, namely, the country's grassroots. In view of the above, I believe alliances and organizations (especially NGO’s) should be formed and setup by well meaning individuals and firms to assist with large scale rural development programs for youths in particular since we know the ‘limitations’ and priorities of government and given the fact that the people concerned can not really help themselves. Many of these communities in-fact have quite a number of successful sons who should be willing to plough back resources in developing their native communities using the youths as reference point.

They would also have responsibilities to monitor the development process of the rural youths, by way of ensuring that democracy dividend gets to those in the grass roots. These organizations would also redress the lack luster attitude of those in governance towards rural dwellers to sensitize and mobilize the rural dwellers towards laying claim to their natural and mineral resources that are abundant in their area. It is believed that Nigeria is endowed with abundant human and natural resources, which if properly and adequately harnessed, can ensure sustainable national prosperity. Accordingly, we need to put in place an empowerment program designed specifically to identify talents, reward hard work and increase youth's enthusiasm towards improved education. On the other hand, we must ensure provision of micro-credits for those engaged in petty trade and micro-business towards enhancing their productivity and on the political scene, to inform and sensitize the rural populace.
Development is generally believed to be the leading objective of any government. In Nigeria for instance, our development strategy for sometime, has centered on the top-down, rather than on the bottom-up approach, which provides the opportunity for the people to conceptualize development projects suiting the peculiar circumstance of their localities.

The current grassroots educational and societal socio-philanthropic status quo is certainly unsatisfactory. Being so dedicated to the cause of breeding and propagating socially balanced minds and to ensure democratic dividends as it affects the grassroots dwellers, there must be a firm and solemn resolve to come together and form organizations with a purpose to empower, sensitize, inform and re-orientate the grass-roots dwellers. This will in the process, provide the rural-dwellers and youths with the opportunity available to harness the agricultural and mineral resources which this nation is endowed with, to enable them to continuously improve the quality of their lives and make meaningful contribution to society. For its successful implementation, there shall be put in place proper financing, training opportunity, local aids and raw materials sourcing and quality education which the beneficiaries are expected to make the best use of.