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The Jetsons are here to stay

The Jetsons are here to stay

Originally posted on GhScientific Ghana on February 15th 2018.

As a child, I was fascinated by the flying cars in the cartoon, ‘The Jetsons’ and I was equally entertained by the natural cars of stones and sticks in the Stoneage cartoon, ‘The Flintstones’. Considering the Flintstones was first aired 2 years prior to the Jetsons, it is almost as if, we had gone from cars of sticks and stones to flying saucers in just under 2 years.

In reality, this is how fast technology is evolving today making digital literacy a fundamental. I was pleased to hear in the latest State of the Nation Address by President Nana Akufo-Addo that government intends on putting measures in place to reform the current school curriculum by laying more emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics along side reading, history, technical and vocational skills.

I believe Science and Maths has always taken priority in our schools and what we need is the bridge with technology and engineering.  It is often said change is difficult to implement as people by nature are set in their ways. However technology is here to stay and reports by Bloomberg highlighting the doubled revenue from mobile transactions within a year is evidence of how Ghana has embraced technology. Hopefully it’ll only be a matter of time before the usual heaps of files in administration offices become a thing of the past – lands commission, take note.

Just as we have embraced technology, it is vital we embrace the role of women and girls in our society and the impact that empowering them with technology through digital literacy can have in the home and the wider economy. I was recently in conversation with a lady who is championing digital literacy for girls and she shared some of the challenges faced which can be attributed to a low expectation on the girls. For example, you put girls through a month of digital skills training and they are gifted with a sowing machine at the end. Surely investing in a tablet or laptop will serve her better?

The many African women in science we proudly celebrate today will not be putting us on the map if they just invested in vocational training skills.  So while these skills are useful let’s not isolate them from technology but rather empower women with the necessary digital literacy as well, for national and global impact. Information Technology services remain a hard sell even for organisations due to its intangible nature. Imagine telling the orange seller who has toiled to save up for her daughter’s education that her daughter will benefit from digital literacy skills training which she can leverage to expand the orange selling business when alternatively she can put her through a vocational training course with a tangible outcome. What would you choose?

By all means let’s support the change of the curriculum to improve digital literacy ideally starting at the primary school.  More importantly, lets support our grass root organisations working to build confidence and self-belief in our young girls by empowering them with digital literacy. If nothing at all, this supplements the school curriculum so our young ones are better equipped to embrace the future because the Jetsons are here with their flying saucers and we all need to know how to fly them safely.  

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