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Preparing Africa's graduates to drive economic growth

Butcher, Neil

In preparing this paper, I have chosen to imagine an African university environment in which students will have ubiquitous access to broadband connectivity, as well as the devices required to connect to and use the Internet effectively. As will be seen, this has important implications for the way in which we approach the challenge of developing the ICT-savvy students mentioned in the introductory paragraph to this session. Many will argue that this is foolish, as it does not take account of on-the-ground realities in African universities. However, my view is that it is essential to construct a vision of Africa’s future that is not bound by current constraints, but rather that imagines anything to be possible, as visions bound by constraints are at least part of the reason why we find ourselves in our present situation in Africa. Importantly, I contend that rapid development of ICT as a social phenomenon in the 21st Century – and particularly growth of Web 2.0 platforms  – is predominantly driven by assumptions that participants (not users) are able to be online, in a broadband environment, 24 hours a day. If African higher education students cannot be, then it follows that they can not become truly ICT-savvy. Thus, we need to establish strong political, commercial, and civil commitment to ensuring that we achieve this goal, a commitment which is not strong enough currently across the continent.

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Title of Paper: Preparing Africa's graduates to drive economic growth
Conference Name: Frontiers of Knowledge in Science and Technology for Africa
Conference Date: 2006-11-18
Conference Location: University of Cape Town, Cape Town
Published as Proceedings: no

Document Type:Conference Paper (not Peer Reviewed)
Subject Area:Teaching and Learning
Country:South Africa
Keywords:Access, Information & Communication Technology ICT, Bandwidth, Online Learning, Economic Development

File Size:133 KB
Date Added:16 April 2007

Butcher, Neil (2006). Preparing Africa's graduates to drive economic growth Presented at the Conference on Frontiers of Knowledge in Science and Technology for Africa, Cape Town, 18-21 November 2006.