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Science, technology and innovation crucial for Africa

Earlier this month, at a meeting Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Francis Gurry, said policymakers had “a unique opportunity to define the key role that science, technology and innovation can play in achieving the development goals of the African continent.

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Earlier this month, at a meeting Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Francis Gurry, said policymakers had “a unique opportunity to define the key role that science, technology and innovation can play in achieving the development goals of the African continent.” The UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, underlined the link between technology and economic growth, and remarked that technological progress can be used to achieve the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) before their 2015 deadline.

Green technologies can help facilitate access to energy, while innovations in the health sector can enhance service delivery. In addition, innovation in agricultural productivity can ensure food security to growing populations.

“With a fast approaching MDG deadline and transition to a post-2015 development era, innovation is a very timely topic,” Mr. Wu said. “Innovation is needed to meet our common development goals, it is important in the final push for the MDGs and in unleashing the potential for sustainable development.”

— UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo

The President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Néstor Osorio, said the African continent holds great and unexploited potential that, if coupled with innovation could create employment and development of cultural industries, leading to increased economic growth.

“Innovation is the essence of our modern society. Without harnessing its power, we will not be able to create healthy, educated or inclusive societies,” he said. “Greater efforts are needed to build partnerships among government, private sector, civil society, academia, philanthropic organizations and the international community, to promote and spread innovation for sustainable development in Africa,” he added.

External links & references

  1. Meeting speakers, topics and background
  2. UN Anti-poverty Millenium Development Goals
  3. African Technology Development Forum
  4. Advancing Science & Technology in Africa : NEPAD

 

Education

Social Media & The School Curriculum

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Today I spoke with Will Faulkner on Midlands Radio on the topic of the changes at ask.fm‘ and also on the Slane photos incident which sparked a quick reaction from Facebook and Twitter to prevent access, and sharing, of photos of a 17 year old girl of an explicit nature that were retweeted or posted creating a viral incident in a matter of hours. I’ve written at length recently about internet trolls following the harassment of Caroline Criado-Perez, and in doing so reflected at length on my own experience twenty years ago with online chat, forums and digital communities.

Today I suggested to Will that the answer or at least the start of an answer, may lie in our school systems.

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Education

McAfee’s Digital Divide Survey : Parents in The Dark

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It’s no surprise to read in McAfee’s Digital Dividesurvey that teenagers are hoodwinking their parents, that’s unlikely to stop any time soon. The difference for teenagers now though, is the internet never forgets. The ten percent of teenagers surveyed who posted an embarrassing photo, or the twelve percent who used foul language may have a long time to reflect on their embarrassment. And that embarrassment could follow them to a new school, college or job. Online, the world is watching and you can be judged by your past behaviour for a lifetime.

Digital learning initiatives like tablets in schools and emerging MOOCs, Massive Online Open Courses are transforming education and the potential for learning so it’s disturbing to read in McAfee’s survey that a third of parents have resorted to taking away their teens mobile devices or computers, counter-productive in the extreme. Neither is avoidance the answer. Parents appear to be in denial and exhibiting a trust that was not granted to my generation and platitudes from teenagers should be treated cautiously as half of teenagers are doing things online that their parents would not approve of.

When I was a student Civics was taught to imbue good citizenship but as we transition to a society with a growing population of digital natives there is a greater need for good digital citizenship, I would suggest even a dedicated course, ideally in the Junior Cycle curriculum. We don’t just need to teach children how to write apps and study using digital technology, we need to teach them how to be safe and sensible, and how what they say and do online can impact themselves and others emotionally, socially and even professionally. Parents must accept responsibility for the development of their children as digital citizens by providing supervision and taking an active, but unobtrusive, part in their children’s online lives. I’m not suggesting a digital version of peeking in the teenage diary, but parents generally, are interested in who their children are friends with and where they are after dark, and they should be interested in what their children are doing online. Installing monitoring software on a child’s computer would be a step too far and may even hinder the development of a teenager’s technical ability, but open discussion in the classroom and at home brings a sense of reality to digital life that is often lacking in the consciousness of teenagers who treat so much of online interaction in a way akin to playing a video game, allowing them to dissociate themselves from offensive behavior, sometimes with tragic outcomes.

Good initiatives like McAfee’s Online Safety for Kids are a great start, but there’s some distance to go and the school curriculum and parents must be part of the answer to the development of the teenage digital native. Human nature being what it is, teenagers will behave better when you keep an eye on them, because they know you’re watching, and their parents should be watching, because the rest of the internet is.

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Education

McAfee’s Digital Deception Survey

A fifth of teenagers have accessed inappropriate content online that disturbed them, according to ‘Digital Divide,’ a new study conducted in Ireland by McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated security company. The study also found that while Irish parents believe their children are doing enough to protect themselves from online dangers, that this is not the case.

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In today’s Irish Independent I wrote an opinion piece, Young Web Users Beware, The Internet Never Forgets where I advanced the idea that we definitely need a Digital Civics on the school curriculum, aimed specifically at 11 to 15 year olds. On Midlands Today, with Don Delaney, we chatted some more about the idea, and how parents seem to be in the dark about what they’re children are doing online.

A fifth of all Irish teenagers have accessed inappropriate content online that disturbed them, according to ‘Digital Divide,’ a new study conducted in Ireland by McAfee, the world’s largest dedicated security company. The study also found that while Irish parents believe their children are doing enough to protect themselves from online dangers, that this is not the case.McAfee Pressroom
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