The big shift in the flow of knowledge – From Developing Countries to the “Developed Countries”

11 04 2012

Pupils in Kitgum, Northern Uganda

Uganda before me

So Great Britain colonized Uganda for 66 years (from 1896 to 1962). In 1962 Uganda got her independence and since then Uganda has been led by Ugandan presidents. Somewhere in between 1962 and 1986 there were quite a number of civil wars and military coups in Uganda.

In 1987 I was born, was a few months after the end of the war which saw the incumbent president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni over throw Idi Amin.  My mother told me a lot of stories about the 1986 coup and how my family had to move places running away from war.

The real story

But that is not the real story. The real story is that even though developing countries have over the years looked up to the so called “developed countries” as the sources of knowledge, pace and trend makers, in reality there has been a huge backward-shift in knowledge and information sharing patterns. Today we are witnessing more knowledge gaps in the developed countries. We are seeing outstanding personalities originally from the developing countries rising on to the international scene.

Rewind

Unfortunately on many of my international trips people still ask me about Idi Amin – one of my recent encounters was in South Africa in 2010 when a stranger from Zimbabwe read off my conference tag that I was from Uganda. He posed a bit before he asked me – so, you are from Uganda? The land of Idi Amin.

Usually I want to tell people that I never even knew him (Idi Amin) – even though I learnt a lot about him in School. I was born a year after the fall of his regime and even though he was the president of Uganda at some point, his legacy doesn’t represent the Uganda/ Ugandans of today. But then again how much can you teach a person whose knowledge about your country is only until 1986?

Earlier I watched this “A Dam Relief begins in May 2012 – Uganda’s Truth will follow” video and at some point a bunch of Americans are asked what they know about Uganda or even whether they have considered coming to Uganda on holiday – the lady in the video says “Uganda has never actually appeared to me as a place for holiday”!

The Uganda I live in

This is when I want to scream that Uganda is actually the Pearl of Africa, home to the Source of the Nile, the famous snow capped Mountain Rwenzori, Lake Bunyonyi the second deepest lake in Africa, home of various and unique cultures. That Uganda flourishes with wild life..holds the most potential in uncovered wild life.. That Uganda is a peaceful country and full of life.

More Knowledge gaps

It is quite interesting and rather DEPRESSING every time I learn that people in the so called developed countries know so little about Uganda and other developing countries at large. I watched the above video just a few minutes ago and all I see is a huge imbalance in knowledge.

On my international travels people ask me “where did you learn to speak English? Its quite interesting to hear that you can speak so well!” So I explain how English is my official language extra. Apart from speaking English so well, I also know a lot about North America, parts of Europe, Asia and of course lots about Africa – the cultures, economic activities or geography of these regions. This is because my (Uganda’s) education system makes it mandatory for me to learn about the world at different levels through my education.

When I reflect on all this ignorance I appreciate that my education system opens boarders and teaches me about the parts of the world which as a child or student I never even imagined I would visit in my life. As I speak, I have been blessed to see different countries across Africa, parts of North America, Asia and spent a couple of hours in Middle East.

However, I am very much concerned and disappointed when I learn that the rest of the world learns almost nothing about my country, culture extra.

The new era of human interaction

Thank God for the social media and interactive social networks! People can now share information and learn about cultures in very interactive ways. But then again, this opportunity is a take or leave for many of the young teenagers who should learn about as much about the world they live in.

Question remains: Is this shift in the knowledge sharing patterns going to be effective if the countries in the west do not make it mandatory for the children to learn about the east the same way my education system does?

 

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ICT for Education in Uganda?

12 06 2009

As information and telecommunication technologies continue to find their way into the country, the education system of Uganda stands a chance to improve further. I must acknowledge the fact that we are living in the world where technology is changing faster than ever, competition for jobs is very stiff and unemployment is immense. This means that we need our education system needs to equip us with all the relevant knowledge – technical, practical and the theories that we need to get decent jobs.

Many schools in Uganda today are still in poor conditions with hardly enough desks, information material (laboratories and libraries) and limited room for the pupils.

Question remains, “Can ICTs for Education work for Uganda?”

Honestly the future of online learning/ or ICTs in Uganda’s schools is still uncertain.

In a country where power lines break and remain unfixed for a period of a week or so, many rural areas have no power, an issue of immense poverty, unemployment etc.

The government of Uganda is making efforts to provide education material to government schools through donating text books from which schools have benefited. Many schools however do not have libraries where pupils/students can access information for research and take private studies purposes.

However with the credit crunch, we need to choose wisely and make sure that only the most essential ICTs are put in place to enhance learning at lower levels of education. There are a variety of cheap technologies designed specifically for schools. Examples include: NComputing where one PC shares resources amongst different workstations not to mention Open Source software.

“Lets embrace the right to information and the right to education by introducing ICTs in classrooms in Uganda.”





Mobile Learning

14 04 2009
Mobile Learning

Mobile Learning

Learning has come a long way. R ight from Desk/ Classroom Learning, Long Distance learning to E-Learning.

And now Mobile Learning! Its one of the most impressive innovations in Mobile Technology.

Apple offers everything you need to implement mobile learning, so it’s easy to dive right in. You’ll have the tools to create digital content, the tools to get that content to students, and the tools to let them play it back anytime, anywhere. You can even introduce students to educational mobile applications for iPod touch and iPhone, so they can access reference information, write blog posts, develop physics models, or simulate flying over the earth. And they can do those things wherever they go.

In one of my articles “Mobile technology for community development” I noted that mobile technology has always been known to be “boring” but little by little its emerging to be very interesting with the latest innovations.

From my perspective I think one day it will take over the web for good!

Mobile learning however requires a more sophisticated mobile phone an “iphone” for example so that turns out to be a limitation for those who cant afford it. And it still requires internet.

However I must acknowledge all the efforts by Apple to have Mobile learning in place.

See details here: Apple Mobile Learning





Gender and ICT Girl Child Camps.

13 04 2009

Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) in collaboration with Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) have written a new chapter in ICT for Women through the Gender and ICT Girl Child camps.

The camps are aimed at improving on the computer literacy of secondary school girls in the three regions of Northern, Eastern and Western Uganda. The Camps are to be held during the school term.

In the recent Eastern Region Gender and ICT Girl Child Camp in Mbale, over 6 schools (all from the Eastern Uganda) participated in the 2 day camp.

The 150 or so girls who participated in the camp had hands on training on Introduction to Computers, and presentations from the Uganda Communications Commission and Women of Uganda Network about communication policies and Gender and ICT respectively.

The girls were also sensitized about the Gender Issues in the country and world at large.

More camp to take place during the next school term.