Millennium Development Goal, ICT and Youth

Originally Published on Computer Jagat magazine in 2004

At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, world leaders passed the Millennium Declaration, which formally established the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since then, the MDGs have become the international standard of reference for measuring and tracking improvements in the human condition in developing countries. The Welfare of these countries is also intricately intertwined with the security of the industrialized countries, making development a truly global venture.

The MDGs have the advantage of

(1) a political mandate agreed upon by the leaders of all UN member states

(2) offering a comprehensive and multidimensional development framework,

(3) setting clear quantifiable targets to be achieved in all countries by 2015-

This paper has identified a number of options for action, suggesting ways in which youth could contribute to the implementation of the MDGs by science, information           and communication technology. Millennium development goals are as follows:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, 2. Achieve universal primary education, 3. Promote gender equality and empower women, 4. Reduce child mortality, 5. Improve maternal health, 6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, 7, Ensure environmental sustain ability, 8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development. All these goals have a number of targets. Eeighteen targets have been listed to achieve these goals.

MDG 8 Target 18 links the private sector and new technologies like ICT to developing nations’ ability to participate in the global knowledge economy by enhancing their capacity to generate new products and improving their competitiveness. In this connection, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries will play a crucial role. With available and affordable computer hardware and software, knowledge accessibility through the Internet, and robotics and modern instrumentation, ■product research and development can-be carried in any SME anywhere focusing on innovation leading to profitability. This paradigm shift will mostly occur in SMEs with young professionals in charge as they are without the traditional baggage of caution, conservatism, and the gender and generational inequity of the business community.

SMEs will spread wealth far more equitably in developing countries than high-tech mega-ventures” with multinational corporations.

ICT and Youth

Youth is the impressing force in any society, They should be provided with proper education, training and a good working environment. We should also recognize the fact that ICT can be the best tools for the empowerment of our youth.

Young professionals (typically 25 to 35 years old) comprise around 15 percent of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of the world’s eligible work force. In the developing world, young professionals are some of the main sources of economic productivity. In the current knowledge economy, a large number of young professionals in both the developed and developing world have become captains of cutting-edge industries in iCT and other emerging technologies.

So, we can say if ICT is the best tool to the implementation of the MDGs, then Youth is the best media to use ICT

Tapping the energy of youth for development

There are already a number of existing programs that tap into the energy of young professionals’ in the international, non-governmental, and UN arenas. Within the United Nations, UNESCO formed the International Forum on Young Scientists during the World Conference on Science in Budapest in 1999. The UN Program on Space

Applications has formed the Space Generation Advisory Council for people having age between 20 to 35. The World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and

Development (OECD), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAQ), International Labour Organization (ILO) all have young professionals programs, designed to both develpp and learn from young professionals around the globe.    :

There are also a large number of existing young professional networks around the world: Waikato Young Professionals in New Zealand to networks in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Toronto, the Thai American Young Professionals Network, Young Professionals Kesher, and the ‘ International Young Professionals Foundation. These networks are diffuse, and while for many the main focus of the group is networking, many also understand that professional development can be achieved through sustainable development.

With the right assistance from the UN, international development agencies, governments and business Corporations, and with young professionals driving their own networks and organizations, these young professionals will be the most potent force in achieving the MDGs. A good example is the Australian Young Ambassadors for Development Program, which places young professionals in developing countries, sponsored by AusAid and organizations in both Australia and the recipient countries. Extensions of this concept could include two-way exchanges of young professionals, like the reverse Colombo Plan fellowship scheme of Malaysian alumni of Australian Universities that brings young Australians to study and work in Malaysia.

WSIS and Youth

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) provides a unique opportunity for all key stakeholders to develop a common vision and understanding to address

the whole range of relevant issues related to the Information Society. It brings together Heads of State, Executive Heads of the United Nations agencies,          non-governmental

organizations, civil society entities, industry leaders and media representatives to foster a clear statement of political will and concrete plan of action to shape the future of the global information society and to promote the urgently needed access of all countries to information, knowledge and communication technologies for development.

Youth can play an important role in the implementation of the action plane of WSIS process. In this regard participation of youth in WSIS was organized around a Caucus with over 1000 members from 150 countries. National WSIS Youth Campaigns organized in many countries like Ghana, Brazil, Nigeria, the Philippines and India to initiate local activities and projects around WSiS. Bangladeshi youths are also actively involved is this process.

In the Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action of WSIS highly emphasize the role of youth. In the WSIS Roundtable on Creating Digital Opportunities it was also emphasized that special efforts needed to be undertaken to ensure access to ICT by youth, for example through building ICT capacity on the secondary ‘and university levels, In both developed and developing countries, women and older people were identified as groups that were often marginalized. Special measures were needed to integrate them into e-strategies, based on a combination of actions by government, business and civil society.

WSIS Action Plan and Local Youths

The WSIS opens new era for the youth community around the world with significant involvement. Youth community may implement a wide variety of activities that include; workshops, prime lime interactive radio programs, media outreach, videoconferences and websites. They can hold  meetings at  local  and national levels on raising awareness I schools, sending email newsletters, training others at Internet cafes, talking with decision-makers, and implementing projects.

The youth community in Bangladesh is working voluntarily to involve themselves in       the implementation of WSIS process. We can name here Bangladesh Youth Forum on ICT (BYF), which is a pioneer to this effect. BYF is young voices for a Bangladesh vision on ICT for the youth segment. They are moving and working dedicatedly with their slogan “Turn the local youth into digital  work  force”. This young community comes out with a strong voice   for   youth   right   and   the opportunity in global aspect. They are currently       working       for       the implementation of the WSIS action plane in co-operation with GoB, civil society, media and private sectors. From this scoping study and their own experiences, Willard and Moraitis determined a three-prong strategy, supporting    young   people’s    (1) learning    and    networking,    (2) participation in policy development, and (3) self-initiated action projects. This framework provided a conceptual understanding of the role of young

people in ICTs and Knowledge for Development, as well as specifics such as activities, a budget and a timeline. With  the  introduction  of the Internet, these young people have acquired a powerful new tool to connect and to communicate. Today, young people go online more than anyone else, they stay online longer, and they have more diverse online activities. With the Internet, a youth’s community is no longer a physical neighborhood, but the entire world-and friends might well be on the other side of the globe. Young people are therefore coming face to face with personal experiences – challenges similar to or different from their own -that provide an imperative for action.

Youths are social entrepreneurs

Young people are concerned about environmental issues, the spread of HIV and other diseases, the lack of employment opportunities, economic inequality, and human rights. As students and young professionals, many seek to understand these issues and how their choices and actions impact on others in their community and around the world. Given their lack of access to many formal institutions in society, young people have traditionally developed their own voluntary associations to address these challenges.

Increasingly, young people are developing hybrid institutions blending the management and funding strengths of small-scale for-profit enterprises with non-profit goals and outreach abilities. By focusing on their goals, these social enterprises are flexible in their ability to create partnerships in support of social and environmental change. Many youth organizations have embraced ICT as a possible source of income as they seek to educate and involve others in resolving critical social issues. They want to ensure that the introduction of these technologies in their communities does not further widen existing social and economic gaps. They are thus often at the forefront of linking ICT to development goals.

Youth are a large untapped resource for creating digital opportunities

Many youth are already using technology for innovative social causes, often expanding access to information beyond those with personal access to technology. Yet, youth actions to bridge the digital divide often suffer from critical deficiencies: (1) Lack of mainstream support, {2) Lack of participation in decision making, (3) Lack of communication and (4) Lack of continuity.

Our challenge is to address these deficiencies, recognizing and capitalizing upon young people – a vital stakeholder in creating a mare inclusive Information Society. We must find a way to make existing youth leaders in ICT for development more effective and to rapidly involve more youth in such activities. The pool of potential talent and energy among youth is vast.

Conclusion

The MDGs provide a political mandate agreed upon by the leaders of all UN member states, offer a comprehensive and multidimensional development framework, and set clear quantifiable targets to be achieved in all countries by 2015. They also present an opportunity for linking development goals to global security. Indeed, the welfare of developing countries is also intricately linked to the security of the industrialized countries, making development goals a global objective.

While there are many examples of the positive transformational impact of technology and ICT in particular, there is still much debate about how and to which extent their application relates to the achievement of social goals and economic growth. There is considerable interest in identifying ways of measuring the socioeconomie impacts of ICT and their potential contributions to the implementation of the MDGs. Much of the information available on this subject has not received substantial policy attention, and as a result, popular claims about the impact of the ICT on development continue to lack strong conceptual and methodological. foundations.

n this context, the United Nations ICT Task Force is working on defining precisely how ICT can be used to further the achievement of basic development objectives. Building upon the foundation provided by the MDGs and the indicators already developed by the United Nations, the Task Force is conducting a qualitative as well as quantitative analysis to explain the role of ICT in supporting each of the goals.

Bangladesh is characterized by its young and dispersed population, limited financial and human resources and institutional capacity. As a result, opportunities for participation in sartorial applications are very limited at this current stage of the country’s development process. Thus, improvement in access and usage., awareness, human resource development of ICT for its youth population is required in order for the country to fully capitalize on the benefits of the information era. Guiding principle

We identifies the following guiding principles as the basis for any Youth and ICT Policy or Action Plan for the country. They are as follows:

a) ICT should be utilized to inform and connect the population;

b) That leadership from Government and   partnerships   with   youth organizations, community organizations, non-governmental organizations, religious, the private and the community-at-large are required to facilitate participation in the knowledge society and fo

make the country part of the global knowledge economy,”

c) The Government, Youth, Non governmental and Community Based   Organizations   and   the private sector should invest in ICT capacity building programmes to develop appropriate skill-set of youth and society-at-large f&r workforce    development    arid employment creation; promoted   while  safeguarding existing  social,  religious  arid cultural values;

e) Strategies should be formulated and regularly reexamined in order to facilitate the development find strengthening of ICT capacity building programmes and projects for youth at all educational levels and especially in rural and remote communities;

f)  Everyone should  have  equal opportunity and access to ICT without barriers to women, the disadvantaged, the disabled, under represented minorities, the elderly and those in rural and remote communities;

g) That tri-sectorial partnerships should   be   encouraged   when designing and implementing ICT Action “Plans for any section Of society;

h) That ICT Action Plans should be actively monitored and evaluated by all stakeholders to identify their impact   on   local  and   national development.

i)   That ICT projects and programmes developed for youth should be done in consultation with and involvement   of   the   targeted beneficiary group and that “lop- down” project and programme design should be avoided as much as possible.

j)   That all businesses operating in the field     of    ICT    infrastructure development be required to deliver services and  infrastructure to under   and   not   served   areas including    marginalized’   and vulnerable groups.

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