Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bibek Debroy on Indian Frugal Innovations | IE OpEd

They can change India: Several of innovations and interventions emanate from the young. There's a slice of the young generation that does want to change India, for the better.
Written by Bibek Debroy | Indian Express | October 1, 2015

I doubt you have heard of Pengdhusi village in Odisha. Until recently, neither had I. Pengdhusi is in Kalahandi district in the tehsil/ block of Thuamul Rampur. In Census 2011, it had a population of only 568; 285 male and 283 female, distributed across 149 households. While Odisha's literacy rate is 72.87 per cent, Pengdhusi's is 48.13 percent; 69.26 per cent for males and 28.51 per cent for females. Out of that population of 568, 281 are SC and 284 are ST. Block and district headquarters are kilometres away. Pengdhusi is deprived and marginalised, still bypassed by development. Out of those 149 households, more than 110 are BPL. However, Pengdhusi is rich in bamboo. Ballpoint pens have proliferated.
Typically, these have a tube, with ballpoint, socket and store of ink, and all of this is encased in a shell. I recall there is a Mont Blanc ballpoint pen worth almost $7,50,000. But ballpoint pens with bamboo shells are cheap and can be produced by artisans in Pengdhusi. Produced there, they are now sold over an area that has an ever-increasing radius, extending to block and district headquarters. I know about Pengdhusi thanks to the SBI's "Youth for India" initiative, in existence since 2011. A fellow has one year to work towards being an agent for change in rural and deprived segments, in association with NGOs, instead of perennially complaining about lack of change. Some such fellows subsequently stay on in the development sector.
Pengdhusi bamboo ballpoint pens were the outcome of such an intervention. There was an ICDS centre (anganwadi) in Jeypore block (Koraput district of Odisha). There were problems with the supply of food (mid-day meals) to the anganwadi and malnourishment was high. Kitchen gardens solved the problem considerably. An easy cooker made of hay, bamboo and a jute bag is a bit like a hot-case. It is cost effective, economises on fuel and keeps rice hot for six hours. Weavers and self-help groups (SHGs) can make and sell these cookers, providing an alternative source of income to poor households.
There is a story from the Dang region of Gujarat, another area where there is plenty of bamboo. How about introducing mechanical tools (axes, splitters, etchers, sanders) made of bamboo? This worked in villages like Ambapara and Dagarpada. Not only are such tools relatively cheaper and locally made, by selling them, artisans can add to their income. Conventional stoves for cooking result in thick indoor smoke, with adverse health outcomes. Redesigned smokeless stoves with local materials (also in Dang) reduced firewood consumption and improved health. These stoves are easy to make and SHGs can sell them to add to household income. These SBI fellows can be between 21 and 32, though they tend to be towards the upper end of the range.
Whenever one feels depressed about what is happening, or not happening, in the country, is a good site to inject optimism. Better India isn't only about the young, though the young populate it to a high degree. In Ahmedabad's slums, instead of donating raincoats to slum children, someone teaches them to make raincoats with tarpaulin, buttons and rubber bands. In Mumbai, two young people have thought of a WiFi dustbin. The garbage can is connected to a router and has an LED display. When you use the dustbin to throw in your trash, an access code is generated and you can use the WiFi network. Instead of plastic cutlery, have you heard of edible cutlery made of a mix of jowar, rice and wheat flour? Did you know that human hair, sawdust and bird feathers can be used to clean oil spills from water? My point is not to harp on innovations.
Other than Better India, you will find plenty of those on the Honey Bee Network and Sristi (Society for Research and Initiatives for Sustainable Technologies and Institutions) websites. My point is that several of those innovations and interventions emanate from the young. There's a slice of the young generation that does want to change India, for the better.
Does the ecosystem facilitate or hinder it? Many countries have a system of compulsory government service, not necessarily equated with conscription.
If you look at a list of such countries, there is no correlation with countries that have, or used to have, command and control systems, equated with compulsion. Instead, paragons of market friendliness and economic freedom have such compulsory service. Apart from anything else, such compulsion probably instils a sense of national pride and helps integrate the country. You might argue that the voluntary National Cadet Corps (NCC) and mandatory SUPW (Socially Useful Productive Work) introduced in the school curriculum were meant to achieve this end. But neither achieves the purpose. They can't if they are part-time. When someone from Tamil Nadu spends a year in a rural village in Odisha and learns Odia, under the SBI initiative, can you imagine what it does to her perspective? On the other hand, if a student applies to an institution of higher education and says she has taken a gap year, eyebrows will still be raised. A gap year sounds a bit more acceptable than compulsory government service. Without getting into compulsion, can one not incentivise people to take gap years (by giving such experience weight for admissions)? (The NCC has incentives, but they don't amount to much.) As a metaphor, I haven't come across the expression "rat race" before the 1930s. There may be a moral in this.
The writer is member, Niti Aayog. Views are personal.

Readers' Comments
Ramesh Grover: It is good to know about SBI's role in encouraging innovations in our backyard. The advantage of banks playing such a role is that they have an efficient methodology and are systematic in perceiving, narrowing down, selecting, implementing, and monitoring such opportunities. It is for the media to focus on this initiative to play a pragmatic role in bringing such ideas to the notice of other public sector banks.
Indianwellwisher: Even if we win the rat race, at most we can be a rat. There is no reason to doubt the innovativeness of humans in any region, including the so called 'uneducated', If politicians and governments don't interfere, people will prosper unhindered. Often the 'educated' class is too constrained in its thinking because of its rigid formal education. Then we invent laternal thinking ...
G M: Our youths have immense potential of innovation. If some how we channelize their energy properly we can excell. Question is - Whether we have in us to bring out best from us as the foreigners do successfully with us.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Cyberwellness UNESCO Office in Bangkok

The ICT in Education Newsletter, September 2015, is now available. Please feel free to forward it to members of your networks.  To view online click here.



September 2015 | UNESCO Bangkok Office


Dear readers,

As ICT becomes more ubiquitous, and the barriers between on and offline worlds start to blur, especially in the lives of our youth, it is essential to provide the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes in the minds of the students in promoting the notion of being a digital citizen. With the rapid expansion of access to technology, stakeholders can underestimate the simultaneous need for developing not only digitally literate, but also digitally mindful and informed young people.© Flickr/Leonardo Augusto Matsuda

As September celebrates the International Literacy Day on Sustainable Societies, and promotes the importance of literacy (including digital), it is paramount to consider developing appropriate knowledge and awareness when equipping with digital literacy in order for young learners to be able to critically assess the risk factors of Internet use and develop resilience to cope with them. Such competencies amongst young learners will be an essential factor to foster healthy and empowering digital environments for the future.

We hope you enjoy reading this edition!

Please let us know if you have any comments or suggestions.

Highlights: Striking a Balance Between Digital Opportunities and Related Risks (by UNESCO Bangkok, ICT in Education)  
This article emphasizes the increasing importance of addressing the hyper focus on digital access through awareness, related policies and programmes to nurture a simultaneous culture of digital citizenship among youth and children. ICT Opportunities and Threats for Children (by Katarzyna Pawelczyk, Project Manager, Voices of Youth Citizens, UNICEF)
This article features an interview with the Project Manager for the Voices of Youth Citizens initiatives at UNICEF, which explores the current situation in regard to children's digital realities, features positive and engaging examples of digital use, reflects on the remaining challenges and considerations for stakeholders, and provides recommendations for promoting and ensuring digital safety for our youth.

Programmes and Projects: The Experience of EU Kids Online and Net Children Go Mobile in Europe: Lessons from Research and Future Challenges
Through the example of the EU Kinds Online research project, readers can learn more about evidence-based and informed policy initiatives on the theme of making the Internet a safer place for children. The project evaluated almost 400 research studies, and consequently identified content, contact, and conduct risks. Developing Good Citizens in the Digital Age 
This article features the United World College of Southeast Asia in Singapore, which is using around 7500 school owned laptops and tablets every day, and infusing technology into their teaching and learning practices. TOUCH Cyber Wellness 
This article features the TOUCH NGO in Singapore, which is supported by the ministries of the country as the leader and contributor to cyber wellness and media education. Empowering Youth Netizens Through Intel's Digital Wellness Program 
This article features the Intel's Digital Wellness curriculum designed to promote awareness of benefits and dangers of Internet-based interaction, familiarizes students with the types of cyber threats, consequences and protective measures, and nurtures a strong character through cyber wellness values.

News and Events: Policies and Initiatives to Promote Children's Safe, Effective, and Responsible Use of ICT: Asia Pacific Consultation (9-11 September 2015, Bangkok, Thailand)
This article features the recent Consultation meeting on the theme of 'Safe, effective, and responsible use of ICT', which brought together around 60 participants, including governments officials, representatives of international organizations, private sector and NGOs, teachers, parents, and students. The article also includes the voices from the meeting, reflecting on the importance of cyber wellness and digital citizenship. Working Group on Digital Safety and Cyberwellness at EDUsummIT 2015
This article provides a brief description of the recent EDUsummIT that took place in Bangkok by Curtin University and the support of UNESCO Bangkok. The UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Education 
The theme for the 2015 edition of the Prize is Pedagogical Innovation in the Use of ICT in Teaching and Learning. The prize is funded by the Kingdom of Bahrain and rewards individuals, institutions, and NGOs for projects and activities which demonstrate best practices in, and creative use of ICTs to enhance learning teaching and overall educational performance. The deadline for submission of all nomination files is 10 November 2015. The Foundation for Information Technology Education and Development (FIT-ED) Call for Proposals
FIT-ED is calling for research proposals on digital learning innovation in developing countries in Asia. Four priority research themes are: MOOCs; Intelligent Tutoring Systems; Digital Game-Based Learning; and Learning Analytics. The deadline for submission is 21 October 2015. 2015 Digital Media and Developing Minds Conference (13-16 October 2015, Irvine, CA, USA)
Bringing together over 250 scientists and researchers, the conference aims to identify and report on the research on the impact of digital media, establish a dialog between medical and social researchers, exchange ideas, and meet funders, educators, and industry. The Asian Conference on Society, Education & Technology 2015 (21-25 October 2015, Kobe, Japan)
The Seventh Asian Conference on Education aims to provide opportunities for networking, sharing latest research, and joining a global academic community.

Resources: Media and Information Literacy Curriculum for Teachers (MIL)
This tool aims to provide educators with the main competencies on MIL, including pedagogical approaches for teachers to integrate MIL in their classrooms. Children's Rights in the Digital Age: A Download from Children Around the World
This publication unravels the stories of 148 children in 16 countries who took part in workshops to discuss opportunities and risks of using digital media. These discussions are reflected in this report. Digitally Connected: Global Perspectives on Youth and Digital Media
This ebook is a collection of essays that provide various perspectives on youth experiences with digital media, with a special focus on the developing contexts. Protecting Children from Cybercrime: Legislative Responses in Asia to Fight Child Pornography, Online grooming, and Cyberbullying
This World Bank regional study provides an overview of 17 Asian countries' responses to online child abuse, especially in relation to child pornography and cyberbullying.

New Publications: Students, Computers and Learning
This OECD publication looks at how students use of ICT devices have evolved in the recent years, further exploring how education systems and schools are integrating ICT into teaching and learning. Investing against Evidence: the Global State of Early Childhood Care and Education
Part of UNESCO's Education on the Move series, this book features lessons learned from research and experiences from different continents. It argues for reversing the trend of 'investing against evidence' so that children can utilize the benefits of quality ECCE. Main Science and Technology Indicators
This latest OECD publication provides indicators that present the level and structure of the efforts of the OECD member countries, and seven non-member economies.


Next Issue: The October issue will focus on the theme of EMIS and ICT supported planning. If our readers are interested in contributing to this edition, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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The opinions expressed in the documents included in this newsletter are those of the authors and editors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of UNESCO, nor of any particular Division or Office. All rights to the resources included in this guide remain with their respective copyright owners, as indicated for each resource.







Just Published -- IFLA Journal Special Issue on Cultural Heritage

IFLA Journal

Special Issue: Cultural Heritage

Download the Full Issue

October 2015; Vol. 41, No. 3

Guest editorial

IFLA Journal special issue on Cultural Heritage

Douwe Drijfhout and Tanja de Boer



Indigenous cultural heritage preservation: A review essay with ideas for the future

Loriene Roy


The digital library in the re-inscription of African cultural heritage

Dale Peters, Matthias Brenzinger, Renate Meyer, Amanda Noble, and Niklas Zimmer


Storing and sharing wisdom and traditional knowledge in the library

Brooke M. Shannon and Jenny S. Bossaller


The challenges of reconstructing cultural heritage: An international digital collaboration

Rachel Heuberger, Laura E. Leone, and Renate Evers


Born fi dead? Special collections and born digital heritage, Jamaica

Cherry-Ann Smart


Digitization of Indian manuscripts heritage: Role of the National Mission for Manuscripts

Jyotshna Sahoo and Basudev Mohanty


Preserving digital heritage: At the crossroads of Trust and Linked Open Data

Iryna Solodovnik and Paolo Budroni


The Universal Procedure for Library Assessment: A statistical model for condition surveys of special collections in libraries

Sam Capiau, Marijn de Valk, and Eva Wuyts


Cultural heritage digitization projects in Algeria: Case study of the National Library

Nadjia Ghamouh and Meriem Boulahlib






Steve Witt

Head, International and Area Studies Library

Associate Professor

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois 61820 USA

Phone: 217.265.7518 



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Friday, September 25, 2015

[UNESCO CI News] CI highlights