“Pack your old bag and let us take you back to school. However, you can leave your pen and paper behind because you are virtually connected to your classmates from all over the world.”
Saturday the 25th of april, around 1500 people from all across the country found their way to “Afrikadag 2009” in The Hague. This event was dedicated to Africa and Development issues concerning Africa. In the morning and afternoon a total of 45 debates and 8 cultural programs were organized on a wide variety of development subjects. There also were various stands where organizations and NGO’s handed out information, gathered signatures for petitions, collected opinions and much more.
When I was walking around the event hall, the stand of IICD (International Institute for Communication and Development) caught my eye from afar. I saw a few screens displaying interactive digital information and I felt myself being pulled towards them like a piece of metal attracted by a magnet. IICD presented here the Global Teenager Project (GTP). Visitors of the Afrikadag were encouraged to use a custom made chat application built especially for that day. This application, which looked in a way similar to Twitter was at the same time being used by students from the West Africa Senior High School in Adenta, Ghana. Users of the application were encouraged to respond briefly to questions and certain topics, like “ICT and You: How do you use ICT in your daily life? Does it improve anything? Are there disadvantages?” and “Which are your biggest dreams: Share them with us! Which were your dreams when you were a child? What are you dreaming of at the moment? Do you think your dreams will come true?”.
Why Chatting at Afrikadag?
ICT is a powerful tool for development. It helps people connect, share ideas and access information that helps them to improve their life. We want you to get a taste of it.
Getting connected with student all over the world and learn from each others ideas is an important goal of theGlobal Teenager Project. This project initiated by IICD, a dutch NGO specialized in using ICT for development purposes, enables students from all over the world, especially in developing countries, to connect globally and discuss topics such as HIV/AIDS, immigration and water in an international, virtual classroom. It gives students like the ones from the West Africa Senior High School in Adenta, Ghana, a kick-start in the use of ICT and helps them to develop communication skills and widen their cultural horizon. Teachers benefit from the projects too as they get a chance to experiment with new teaching methods and are able to make learning more lively and dynamic.
This piece of technology, or similar types of technologies and systems, could easily be the basis for a fundamentally new form of (Global) Education. The GTP provides the means for students across the entire planet to connect and share with each other, ultimately learning from each other, with each other. The program seemes to me, to provide a powerful network consisting of multiple (educational) tools to boost ICT and communication skills, providing fun and exciting new methods for learning and interacting.
With the Global Teenager Project, the IICD is showing the innovative way NGO’s can utilize ICT to stimulate development (ICT4D). In this case: social software which allows students across the entire world to connect to and learn from each other, stimulates education and provides new educational forms for the realization of a digitally literate global society in the future.