Monday, December 6, 2010

Community Development

PCF6 Discussions on Digital Content
By Cameroon Link
The session on digital content and community development was facilitated by Maria Protz of the Caribbean Institute for Media and Communication and the rapporteur was James Achanyi-Fontem of Cameroon Link.This session was arranged by the COL Community Media Action International Coordinator, Ian Pringle.
Presenters were Lee Tan Luck, Prasenjit Das, Blythe McKay, Valluvaparidasan, Venkataraman, B.S, Hansra, Surye Gunjal, Valluva Paridasan and Praveen Jain.
Maria Protz to get resource persons on stage, started by refreshing the memories of the audience on the required content of the theme through a series of questions: What are the ways we can capture the body of knowledge about using community media in learning? So, how do we go about capturing the body of knowledge? Are there modules for using community media for facilitating learning? With all the new communication platforms and technologies that are coming to the front, do they really work? Or do they cause more problems than we think? Another question was on quality assurance. In community media, do we need some sort of quality assurance mechanisms for checks and balance? If so,do we have any modules that work for that? Who is the community we are talking about? Is community a myth? What is the role of technologies in addressing disparities? After this introduction that the first speaker was invited to the podium to address issues related to "Supporting Community Learning with Digital Technologies"
Lee Tan Luck is a lecturer of MARA University of technology in Malaysia. He spoke about supporting community learning with digital technologies and knowledge for societal development. He emphasized on Open Distance Learning, ODL, to educate rural farmers by enhanced blended learning management system through schools, while quoting the example of Malaysia. The scenario in the school system of Malaysia, is that all primary and secondary schools are well equipped with computer systems since 1986. In all the 2000 primary schools, 45 per cent are located in rural areas. Even in the rural areas, there is everything including electricity supply.
The Open Distance Learning operates on half day and mostly in the evening. This is part of the educational system. In Malaysia, the introduction of ICT has proven its worth as the foundation of the modern mode of education delivery system. This widen the scope of development on a collaborative, open and distance digital enhanced e-learning platform.
It has also paved the way for the bridging of digital divide as well as fostering advance education for the nation. For this to happen, a main server is located in one area, connections are linked to eight district servers at one time. These computer servers in the eight districts are connected to all primary and secondary schools. Even the indigenous areas with solar energy benefit from the same syatem.
Farmers are eager to learn through the system because ICT helps them to evacuate their products to the market. Without this system, the farmers will produce and not know where to sell their crops. Most of them are poor peasant farmers. The middle men who buy from the farmers to sell in the market, take a big share of the profits of the farmers. This system of open distance learning has come to give the farmers equal opportunities and some have become very rich.
Teaching is considered a social obligation for the development of the society. This helps the farmers to equip themselves and improve on their livelihoods. Farmers are discourage from the use of chemicals for producing their crops, because this is dangerous for human health. Lee Tan Luck said, he has a farm and practices what he teaches there. He acknowledged that farming pays more that a government job, even when he practices only on part time basis.
The off-hours education for rural farmers is part and parcel of school administrators and teachers’ social obligation because they also form part of the community. The blended methodology of teaching and learning process is not an easy one because the farmers need to be guided properly on the use of the sophisticated digital facilities and caution is the key issues in the transfer of knowledge.
It is important to note that the open distance learning, whether in the afternoon or night is free. Malaysia envisages through its system of using ICT for transformation of the well being of the farmers to attain the level of developed country by the year 2020.

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