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Can ICTs be innovatively used in the absence of minimum literacy levels among the poor?
Yes, I believe ICTs can be innovatively used in the absence of minimum literacy levels among the poor.
ICTs enable societies to produce, access, adapt and apply information in greater amounts, more rapidly and at reduced costs and offer enormous opportunities for enhancing business and economic viability.
ICTs can also contribute towards strengthening democracy, increasing social participation, competing in the global market place and removing barriers to modernization; making poor populations fuller agents in the sustainable developmental process.
The minimum requirements of ICT facilities require a computer with connection (3G, Wi-Fi, etc.). Unfortunately above mentioned is expensive, the poorest of the poor would not be able to afford it. Connectivity of mobile phones is also limited. Thus in order for ICTs to be innovatively used in the absence of minimum literacy levels among the poor, the above mentioned obstacles must be overcome.
While poor nations grapple with the problems of investing in these technologies, recent experiments show that convergence of new and traditional communication media is still relevant to poor communities who lack basic infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity and telephones.
ICTs are not just about technologies, but more about information transfer and communication.
My aunt, ninety-six years of age, and my uncle, ninety years of age, rely exclusively on verbal communications. They have learned at an early age, that to observe and to be able to accurately account what had happened was of outmost importance – therefore their reliance on verbal communication. The elderly in our community therefore rely on the radio, and if available the television, as the means of communication with the outside world. Here it must be stressed that the language of communication must be in their own native tongue. My little girl is more adapt than me handling my cell-phone or tablet, yet she is also able to communicate with the outside world at her level.
The scenario above illustrate that there is a definite need to ensure that information reach the elderly as well as the young of heart. Using innovative ways of applying ICTs we will be able to address this dire need.
To reach this goal, communities must pool together to establish the basic infrastructure needed to roll out the information highway. The combination of radio, television and internet must be utilize to improve the level of education. Our government has projects in place to assist communities to have access to internet, especially our youth. Schools offer computer classes to scholars from Grade 1, to name but a few.
How can the same ICTs be used for multiple purposes? What steps are needed to use, say the internet for meeting the educational and health needs of poor female farmers in an isolated rural community?
The same ICTs can be used in a variety of communication fields, from education and healthcare, to agriculture and business. For example, a radio can broadcast important news, financial news, weather, even educational programs. Thus spanning one form of ICT into a variety of sectors.
ICTs are considered increasingly important in the effort to eradicate poverty. It is widely recognized that ICTs can provide access to information which can in turn create earning opportunities, improve access to basic services, increase the impact of education and health interventions, and give the poor a voice to demand government support and reforms. Despite these potential links between ICTs and poverty reduction, direct access by the poor to ICTs is extremely limited. Citizens of poor countries, especially women, have significantly less access to ICTs than those living in rich countries. Factors such as excessive domestic workload, illiteracy and lack of formal education prevent these groups from accessing information. Poverty reduction means focusing on particular groups within societies not on ‘poor countries’.
It is generally believed that ICTs can empower teachers and learners, making significant contributions to learning and achievement. However, current research on the impacts of ICTs on student achievement yields few conclusive statements, pro or con, about the use of ICTs in education. ICTs do offer many beneficial opportunities for education, but they are no substitute for formal schooling. Teachers need to be empowered to use ICTs so that they can gain the confidence and skills to work in an ICT – driven environment.
ICTs can play a critical role in improving health care for individuals and communities. By providing new and more efficient ways of accessing, communicating, and storing information, ICTs can help bridge the information divides that have emerged in the health sector in developing countries—between health professionals and the communities they serve and between the producers of health research and the practitioners who need it. Through the development of databases and other applications, ICTs also provide the capacity to improve health system efficiencies and prevent medical errors.
Women’s ability to take advantage of ICT is dependent on conductive policies, an enabling environment in their countries to extend communications infrastructure to where women live, and increased educational levels.