Inclusive Education

In terms of inclusive education and its relation to the development spectrum, I took particular interest in the role of inclusive ICTs in education policy. In the publication, Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities, we learn the risks posed to learners with disabilities in the overall educational system. The World Report on Disability estimates between 93 and 150 million school-aged children with disabilities globally. These high numbers along with the strong vulnerability these children face to education exclusion is very problematic. ICTs can help bridge this gap by helping to increase the participation of students with disabilities. In particular, these ICTs include media and publication formats such as:

  1. MSWord, PowerPoint and PDF files
  2. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML 5)
  3. Videos with captioning
  4. DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System)
  5. Books
  6. EPUB

As part of its policy objectives, the publication also explains the importance of providing access to an appropriate learning environment which is supported by inclusive ICTs for learners with disabilities. The policy objective has the long term outcome of learners with disabilities being able to effectively use inclusive ICTs towards their own learning preferences.

Inclusive education is an important contemporary issue in the development sector because an access to education provides the necessary framework to tackle many of the Sustainable Development Goals. In order to provide information access to community members in the informal settlement of Kibera, it is important to assess the education facilities within the community. Jitahidi Academy is a primary school in Kibera which plays an important role and serves as a great opportunity to implement these international objectives on inclusive education. Kenyan NGO Umande Trust implemented a sanitation and hygiene training program in the school. As outlined in their project report, “Promoting Eco-Sanitation and Water Services in People Settlement in Kibera, Wimma Likkuta,” the program was “meant to address the sanitation challenges facing the school” and teach aspects related to hygiene promotion and handwashing. The program involved fifty-seven students in which they were trained on important areas of sanitation such as handwashing and were informed of their sanitation options in the community. The students were then encouraged to share the information learned with other members of the community including friends, family and neighbors. Under the supervision of staff at Umande Trust, I was able to create a video project covering this project. This video project seeks to serve as a starting point for necessary ICTs for inclusive education within the settlement of Kibera.

Intersectionality in Sustainable Development

Understanding that social groups, cultures and beliefs will be interconnected and cannot be viewed as separate in the development spectrum is crucial to remember. Intersectionality in provides us with the ability to be more effective in all areas of the development process whether it involves program management, program implementation, capacity management and building or monitoring and evaluation.

For my project, looking at intersectionality in Kibera and Kenya as a whole is the foundation for any proper project implementing. In particular, youth and ethnicity are two areas that share intersectionalities and need to be equally understood in the Kenyan context. In Kibera, its ethnic composition has resulted in the settlement having a sizable amount of ethnic conflicts in its history. In 2007, Umande Trust outlined the ethnic composition of the Kibera population as including:

Luo: 30%, Kikuyu: 20%, Kamba: 19%, Luhya: 14%, Others: 11%, Kalenjin: 6%

Youth in the African context is also integral to understand when it comes to the continent’s development. In Youth Development in Africa Policies and Trends at the Global Level, The 2006 United Nations Program on Youth was a small program within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs which had the main purpose of “informing and servicing intergovernmental processes on youth issues” (2). The program discusses the integration and intersectionalities of youth in development by grouping them into three clusters which include:

  1. Youth in a Global Economy: Globalization, Education, Employment, Hunger and Poverty
  2. Youth in Civil Society: Environment, Leisure, Participation, Intergenerational, ICT
  3. Youth and their Wellbeing: Health, HIV/AIDS, Drugs, Delinquency, Young Women, Armed Conflict

The document provides proposals for action which align well with my final project. Umande Trust has many youth projects which seek to address the intersectionalities between youth and the environment in Kibera. This document proposes for the environment that there is an integration of environmental training into formal media and an enhancing of the role of media as a tool for widespread dissemination of environmental issues for the youth.

In addition, in other literature regarding youth in Africa, we see the need for increased access to information and data to assess the well-being of African youth. As outlined in the Brookings Institution’s Africa Growth Initiative report, Youth Policy and the Future of African Development, the summary of the study explains how “limited data hinder the measurement of the well-being of African youth” (6). In assessing the factors behind youth and poverty in settlements in Kibera, it is important to note how the report also describes that “youth unemployment rates are relatively high, with significant regional difference and adverse consequences such as poverty, migration and diseases” (6). In order to understand the factors behind poverty in the Kenyan and African context, concepts surrounding the youth and ethnicity are just two examples of how intersectionality is a must in contemporary development.

Multistakeholder Global Goverannce

In analyzing Multistakeholder Internet Governance and its connection with Sustainable Development, we learn about the Internet Goverannce Forum, a multistakeholder platform which serves as a technological platform to facilitate discussions on public policy and the internet. We are provided more information on the international connectivity this platform provides in the publication, Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance. The publication discusses the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) held in Istanbul, Turkey from September 2-5, 2014. Leaders at the forum looked into “how providing access to information and communications technologies, including the Internet, could improve people’s lives and develop their capacity” (5). I found the sub-themes of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2014 interesting as they included:

  1. Content Creation, Dissemination and Use
  2. Internet as an Engine for Growth and Development
  3. IGF and The Future of the Internet Ecosystem
  4. Enhancing Digital Trust
  5. Internet and Human Rights
  6. Critical Internet Resources
  7. Emerging Issues

In addition to these sub-themes, I felt it was important to look at the makeup of the forum participants. There were a total of 2,403 onsite participants, 1,291 remote participants, 60 remote hubs with an estimated 1852 participants and 144 total countries represented (12). In terms of onsite participation, looking at the regional makeup is also important. Africa had a total of 190 participants, second least behind Eastern Europe with 133. In terms of onsite participation by stakeholder group, 779 participants were from civil society, with the unanimous majority. The private sector had 581 participants while the Government had 571 total. Interestingly, intergovernmental organizations had only 96 participants, the least out of all onsite stakeholder groups.

Assessing these statistics in the context of my project helps me look in particular at the regional representation of Africa and all relevant stakeholders. In comparison to the 780 participants in Western Europe, 745 participants from the host country and 405 participants from Asia Pacific really minimizes the significance of the 190 onsite participants from Africa. In terms of stakeholder participation, I found civil society’s significant majority interesting and reemphasizing the importance of this forum on providing information access to collective communities.

Global and Regional Frameworks

For multiple reasons, we understand how the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain an important topic of discussion. Many are concerned with it because of the importance in learning from the mistakes implemented. The Post2015 UN Development Agenda explains how others concentrate on the present in order to “consider the implications of the financial crisis and the Great Recession in the world economy” (3). There were three different dimensions to the significance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which included:

  1. “Recognition of the reality that a large proportion of people in the world were deprived and poor” (5).
  2. “It was a statement of good intentions that sought a time-bound reduction in poverty to improve the living conditions of those deprived and excluded” (5).
  3. It was an attempt to place this persistent problem, until then a largely national concern, on the development agenda for international cooperation” (5).

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were important in creating a sense of imagination by the international community. Ideally it was also a way in which governments could become accountable to people “just as the international community could be held accountable by national governments” (5). That being said, in actual real life, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) did not help alter the international approach to development because real life practice was unable to fully maintain that relationship of accountability between governments and civil society.

In terms of the overall limitations of global strategies and frameworks, looking at its large-scale structure is pivotal to understanding its strengths and weaknesses. Often, the large-scale structure of global frameworks such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) means that they are operating with a top-down approach. This poses the risk of development not being assessed from the grassroots level that it needs to be. It also means that the framework is weak in implementation ability. We learn of how “the limitations of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a construct, in conception and in design, provide some basis for an evaluation of the (MDGs) as a framework” (8). The document makes two interesting statements in which it describes the weakness of the (MDGs) as their strength, but also how their strength serves as their weakness. Its simplicity was its strength in that it was easy for the international community to comprehend and thus in theory implement. However, its simplicity led to the assumption that “one-size-fits-all” which fails to take into account the intersectionality and diversity of the development spectrum.

 

 

 

Digital Divide(s)

The “Digital Divide” entails the technological divide in which information access is inhibited in particular societies. As a result of this, more societies are technologically falling behind while others are dramatically moving forward. In Falling through the Net, we learn about how America has experienced growth in access to electronic services with households in rural, suburban and urban areas sharing a growth in the number of households who own PCs. That being said, the digital divide is still evident with income, race & origin, education, household type, age, religion and state all playing factors. It is important to realize that the concept of intersectionality when discussing the digital divide. The diverse demographics or the American household and family means that there are more factors surrounding the digital divide.

In addition, the digital divide connects to the topic of information access making it very relevant to my final project. In terms of addressing the digital divide in Africa, the “ICT Policy Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa” created a policy briefing called The State of Right to Information in East Africa. This briefing is included in my research and identifies the digital divide in relation to the Right to Information laws implemented in the Eastern African countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. As described in my review of relevant literature, only 13 out of 54 African countries have Right to Information laws (RTI). That being said, the countries with these laws have multiple issues in terms of overcoming restriction barriers in implementation.

In particular, these are the main facts behind the Right to Information laws in the following countries:  

  • Uganda: first country to pass an RTI law back in 2005
  • Rwanda: followed in 2013
  • Tanzania: published an RTI draft law in 2006 and nine years later in 2015
  • Kenya: published an RTI Bill in 2007, is yet to pass it into law, despite civil society pressure for government to fast-track adoption of the legislation
  • Summarize the legal provisions and restrictions to citizens’ right to information in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda

 

 

ICTs and Sustainable Development

ICTs continue to play a role in the development sector in their goal of providing equal access to technological services. In Falling Through the Net, we understand how the core goal of US telecommunications policy involves universal service and equal access for everyone. Our class discusses the National Information Infrastructure (NII) along with the Global Information Infrastructure (GII). As described by its website, The Global Information Infrastructure Commission is an “independent, non-governmental initiative involving leaders from developing as well as industrialized countries.” The website also describes four important factors in ICTs for development:

  1. Developing as well as industrialized countries have a high stake in information infrastructure development;
  2. The burdens and opportunities of developing information infrastructure are shifting away from governments to the private sector;
  3. Private sector insights and foresights are essential to shaping policies that are effective in implementing information infrastructure that is economical and safe; and
  4. The policy challenges, as well as the markets for information infrastructure, are truly global in scope.

Much of what we learned from this week serves as very useful in providing a conceptual framework to the ICT aspect of my final project. In assessing the landscape for ICT4D research, I found Gerard C. Raiti’s article, “The Lost Sheep of ICT4D Research,” as useful in providing a realistic outlook into the future of ICT4D research and an analysis of its shortcoming. His research is also included in my review of relevant literature as he explains how “information communication technologies for development (ICT4D) is a new field of study that contains few grand theories compared to other areas of social science” (1). Raiti recommends the creation of a global summit on ICT4D and more grand theories. He describes how the flaws involving ICT4D research and literature involve an “overly optimistic, highly Western, multidisciplinary, and atheoretical” (1). In addition, ICT4D has so far failed to extensively draw on a breadth of research in other fields such as media and communications studies. Many of the authors in the field do not have actual knowledge of ICT literature, but are more experts on development. For this reason, the ICT4D literature struggles in terms of finding its direction. Raiti argues the importance of developing multidisciplinary partners to reform the approach to ICT4D research. This can be done by combining the plethora of ICT literature available. He identifies how:

– there is no “magic bullet” or “hypodermic needle” of ICT4D impact

– ICT4D will not provide food, clean water, affordable health care, civil rights or peace

– Media power and significance should still not be downplayed

– Technologies that facilitate communications increase people’s ability to learn and interact

– Communication allows information to spread across time and space at faster and faster rates

Smart Cities, Habitat III and the New Urban Agenda

As discussed in class, the draft of the outcome document was adopted at the Habitat III Conference in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016. The mission of the Habitat III conference entailed the adoption of a New Urban Agenda in which an action oriented document will help set standards of actual achievement in sustainable urban development.

In particular, it is interesting to note the continuing impact of urbanization on communities worldwide when it comes to poverty reduction. As described in class, this has been a trend seen throughout modern histories and Habitat III opens a medium for governments to respond to this development opportunity. By implementing a practical system for cities, towns and national planning objectives, these aspects can all be interconnected to help contribute in driving social development. Another important aspect of Habitat III is regarding its inclusivity as it places focus on all levels of human settlements:

  1. Small rural communities
  2. Villages
  3. Market towns
  4. Intermediate cities
  5. Metropolises for demographic and economic growth

Habitat III serves as an integral role in my Umande Trust Media and Communication Initiative in strategizing the role of the international community in alleviating poverty and increasing inclusivity in informal settlements through information access. As described in the draft outcome, this century will see a substantial majority of the world’s population living in urban centers. In addition, “by 2050, the world’s urban population is expected to nearly double, making urbanization one of the twenty-first century’s most transformative trends” (3). As a result, this “poses massive sustainability challenges in terms of housing, infrastructure, basic services, food security, health, education, decent jobs, safety and natural resources, among others” (3). The outcome emphasizes the importance of the need to “take advantage of the opportunities presented by urbanization as an engine of sustained and inclusive economic growth, social and cultural development, and of its potential contributions to the achievement of transformative and sustainable development” (3).

With the focus of my project being the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, Habitat III places the necessary framework in understanding the factors behind the flaws in Kenyan national policy and inaction towards the nation’s informal settlements. In addition, implementing the Urban Agenda means respecting the rule of law. Without the rule of law, settlements such as Kibera will not be able to experience proper urbanization. In addition to urban rules and regulations, planning and design are integral. As we learned in class, the development of settlements such as Kibera depends on the ability for the adequate provision of common goods such as streets and open spaces. In addition, municipal finance means that management and maintenance is conducted in a proper manner.