Is computer familiarity what is really needed in rural developing communities?

I read with interest an article on a scheme to bring a mobile computer classroom to rural schools in Uganda.  It is flagged as good for the children as it opens up the opportunity for work involving such technology in the city.  But is this really sustainably good?  I don’t know the answer to this question, but it seems far from be ‘obvious and correct’ to me.  And I don’t say this to be negative, on two occasions on Christian Mission trips I’ve made to developing nations I’ve agreed to help teach basic computer skills – both in Honduras and in Mongolia.  I did as I was asked, but reading this article again opens up the question for me – should I have done this?  Was it really the right thing to do.  I am genuinely keen to hear peoples thoughts on both sides of this argument.

What worries me is the promotion of the movement of people from rural to city environments by such initiatives – so whilst, yes, if they go to the city these skills could help; should they be helped to go to the city?  From what I have seen of rural and urban environments in developing nations (and to a lesser extent in developed nations too) is that a higher morality is to be seen in rural areas than in the city.  So in encouraging urbanisation are we also encouraging a reduction in morality? If we are then this needs to be considered in the balance of costs and benefits of programmes like that outlined in the article above – and in the work I did myself.

I honestly ask the question – would it not be better to teach rural children the skills they need to have a sustainable future within their own communities?  This would provide work and wealth but at a lower moral cost (Matt 6:33)

Your thoughts please…

1 thought on “Is computer familiarity what is really needed in rural developing communities?

  1. Interesting questions, here’s what I think. “Should” they be helped to go to the city? Yes, if that’s what “they” want. Are rural communities really more moral than urban ones? Or just more traditional? I’m sure the freedoms women find in the city make a big impact on their lives, compared to less progressive rural communities. But aren’t computer skills helpful for people in rural communities too? Thinking about sustainability and the future, we are all going to need to be connected, aren’t we? Access to markets, information about the weather, access to education etc etc etc are all useful to rural communities. As Richard said on FB, communities should make their own choices about what they want to learn and why. And that includes leaving for the city where they may improve their standard of living, as well as the potential to influence political decision-making for the benefit of the families they have left behind.

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