Sunday, July 04, 2004

AD3 - Buying into the Future

Introduction
The idea of “Buying into the Future” came when CawdNet people were discussing the needs of the Education Special Interest Group (SIG), but we soon saw how it could apply to other SIGs.

The education example
Teachers are asking for in-service training (INSET) on ICT awareness. This is because ICT is coming onto the curriculum at primary, secondary and tertiary level. However, although there may be some provision in major urban areas, in the rural areas where CawdNet operates there is no INSET provision (and no provision for computers nor expectation of getting any, in fact most schools are book poor and have no electricity). Teachers are concerned that they are not prepared to teach this new curriculum area and are asking CawdNet associates to help them to “know computers”. The CawdNet associates in this case are Oke-Ogun Community Development Network (OCDN) and Fantsuam Foundation (FF).

Teachers are ready to study in their own time, and expect to pay for the training from their own pockets. The problem is that they have little disposable income. They typically have many financial responsibilities towards members of their extended families (who may well be subsistence farmers). This means it is difficult for them to pay realistic training fees. OCDN and FF are small organisations that need to cover their costs. The missing piece is a mechanism for paying, or subsidising, the teachers’ fees (inexpensive by “developed world” standard). This is where the idea of “Buying into the Future” comes in.

In the future these teachers should not need to pay for their own INSET. In the UK for example pioneering enthusiasts paid for their own training, but later ICT INSET was provided to teachers free of charge. What if our rural teachers could find themselves in a similar situation now? FF and OCDN would be able to provide the training. If we could “Buy into the Future” it would have the dual benefit of training the teachers and helping with the sustainability of FF and OCDN training services.

We can do two things to bring this positive future closer. For the medium and long term we can try to influence policy makers (state and federal government and international agencies) to enable free INSET. Meanwhile, on a local level we can try to provide the course fees, “as if” the government was already funding INSET – what we call “Buying into the Future”.

Raising funds for “Buying into the Future” initiatives will be done through CAWD

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