Posted: Saturday, December 6, 2014. 7:47 pm CST.
[The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Patrick E. Jones or the Belize Media Group]
The history of the world has been marked by great revolutions.
Revolutions inevitable change the entire system of how countries and the world operates. Much like the Industrial Revolution this century will be marked by the Information Revolution.
The information revolution is marked by the shift to where information is recognized as the most power asset of any country. Similarly, to how the industrial evolution and those that came out better off from it was determined by access and knowledge of use of machines and tools, so too will the information revolution be marked by those that had access and knowledge of use to ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies).
In fact, most of the world has recognized that poverty cannot be effectively eradicated in the world unless there is a closure in the global digital divide.
“The digital divide is the gap between people with effective access to digital and information technology and those with very limited or no access at all. It includes the imbalances in physical access to technology as well as the imbalances in resources and skills needed to effectively participate as a digital citizen. In other words, it is the unequal access by some members of society to information and communication technology, and the unequal acquisition of related skills.”
However, as previously mentioned its not only about physical access but also about the knowledge and everyday application to make the life of people better.
It is no hidden fact that Belize is tremendously blessed with tremendous natural resources, of which most of us will agree that the people are the greatest.
Recognizing that the people, the human resources, are the most valuable we must also submit to the fact that it is highly untapped. Belize has a unique opportunity that is presented before it, we have enough fertile land so that self sustenance and food security should never be a problem.
However, for our transformation from simply the process of Poverty Alleviation which our governments have so fell in love with, we must move to a process of Prosperity Elevation. This monumental and revolutionary transformation will involve us embracing ICT and becoming a knowledge based society.
However, this transformation will only take place if we recognize the importance and dive in full pledged towards being a knowledge based society.
The mantra information is power has never been so accurate as it is today.
Hence harnessing those tools and ensuring the majority of our people are equipped with the knowledge to not only survive in a globalized era, but flourish.
We need to move away from the process of poverty alleviation and on to the process of prosperity elevation. This transformation can only take place by narrowing the digital divide, and ensuring that we are are knowledge based society, and one that embraces ICT.
Embracing the idea of transformation into an Information society and one that embraces ICT does not mean each of us must become programmers and ICT experts, however it does mean that we will try to make the technologies and knowledge available to all a far greater majority.
Today the ITU, the International Telecommunications Union celebrates World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD).
The purpose of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICT) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.
It cannot be overstated the huge potential to improve the lives of people that ICT’s along with ensuring all have equal and affordable access to information and knowledge.
For many years the idea of free Education has be debated, but the time for free and meaningful education has come. We can no longer afford not to have it.
It is clear from the statistics presented last week during education week, that the prevalence of social ills and the decay in the quality of life most due to fears due to violence can be directly attributed to our high delinquent rate, around 60% for children of highschool age. Similarly, we cannot wait for some foreign country to provide us with the solution we need to make bold moves to transform our society, which must include use embracing ICT and becoming a knowledge based society.
There are specific projects that have been created to overcome the digital divide Projects like One Laptop per Child and 50×15 offer a partial solution to the global digital divide; these projects tend to rely heavily upon open standards and free open source software.
The One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc. (OLPC) is a U.S. non-profit organization set up to oversee the creation of an affordable educational device for use .
Its mission is “to create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.
Let start replacing text books.
Moreover, Belize does not even need to join these programs to reap benefits of full pledged incorporation of ICT, a single netbook/laptop can replace entire text book list which on average cost about $500 for a first former.
This cost could be replaced by a netbook laptop with a store price of approximately $400.
However, I am sure could be bought in bulk for less than $100.
Beside the cost saving there would be significant productivity increases for the children. Yes there will be other cost like repair, and software cost for text books, and teacher training, but through my analysis, it would still over the minimal 4 year life of the laptop pay for itself 2 to 3 times over.
Similarly, the quality of governance is critical to poverty reduction. Good governance facilitates proper policies as well as sound macroeconomic management.
It ensures the transparent use of public funds, encourages growth of the private sector, promotes effective delivery of public services, and helps to establish the rule of law.
Public sector inefficiency, corruption, and waste leave insufficient resources to support public services and anti-poverty programs.
Since effective and efficient delivery of basic services by the public sector matters most to the poor, weak governance hurts them disproportionately.
ICT can facilitate speedy, transparent, accountable, efficient and effective interaction between the public, citizens, business and other agencies.
This not only promotes better administration and better business environment, but also saves money in costs of transactions in government operations.
ICT’s daily growth and innovation is exponential, and so doing it has in countries such as Singapore acted as catalysts for a more productive and better life, ICTs open the door to a myriad solutions that help achieve harmony among the spatial, social and environmental aspects of cities and among their inhabitants.
Orson. J. Elrington is a regionally published author on a variety of topics including trade, ICT, law and the creative industries.
He is an academic standout with an A.S (HONS), B.S.(HONS), and LLB(HONS)
He is also a community activist in the areas of sports, working with underprivileged children and in poverty eradication.
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