THE PRIORITY OF AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS: EDUCATIONAL INCLUSION OR TECHNOLOGICAL EXPANSION? TECHNOLOGICAL EXPANSION
By Victor ADEYEMO
Delivered at Quarter Finals – Hall Category, Jaw War 2018
Today’s debate asks what should be the priority of African government. However, just like no doctor can give a proper prescription without first diagnosing the complication. We must first ask, ‘what are the problems of Africa?’ before we can ascertain what the priority should be. According to an article published on the Africa Exponent in April 2017, the three major problems of Africa are corruption, unemployment and insecurity.
According to Cambridge English Dictionary, Priority is ‘something that is very important and must be dealt with before other things’. Hence, the question in today’s debate is; in order to solve the problems of Africa, which should be our priority? Educational inclusion or technological expansion? We choose the latter. ‘Technological expansion’, according to the Enduro Group in 2014, is the ‘increased and extensive application of the knowledge of science to solve practical problems’. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO, ‘educational inclusion’ means ‘addressing the diversity of needs of all learners and reducing exclusion from education’. In essence, educational inclusion is an ideology that embraces anyone who is willing to learn regardless of disability, gender or ethnicity.
Now, let’s debate.
First, the essence of technological expansion is to solve practical problems. Educational exclusion is itself a practical problem in Africa. According to the UNESCO Global Monitoring Report Group in 2016, 65% of children with disabilities are excluded from African schools due to lack of proper technological devices to aid their learning. Judges, with the appropriate technologies, the problem of exclusion for persons with disabilities would be solved. This means that inclusion is not achievable without technological expansion. In fact, exclusion exists in the first place as a result of lack of technological expansion and with expansion; educational inclusion would not be a problem. So, contrary to what the noble men might believe, educational inclusion cannot lead to technological expansion.
Second, it is no news that corruption is the norm of our public officers in Africa. Embezzlement of funds, tax evasion, nepotism etc. However, the Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions has proven that technology is instrumental in the fight against corruption, because it improves transparency and accountability. An example is the crowdsourcing technique in Kenya which reports incidents of bribery and corruption. Another is the Afghanistan automated tax collection system, which increased tax revenue from $250m to $2b according to the Guardian in May, 2016. Judges, if technology can help us tackle corruption, why should we not prioritize its expansion over educational inclusion. After all, even educational inclusion is likely to be a victim of corruption in the long run if not tackled.
Furthermore, unemployment; According to the 2017 Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, technology is kick starting innovative avenues for job creation. And contrary to my opponents’ opinion that artificial intelligence and robotics will lead to more unemployment, the same source states that for the 1.8 million people artificial Intelligence will automate out of work by 2020, new and emerging technologies will also create 2.3 million jobs by 2020, meaning an extra 500,000 jobs. So ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that technology not only holds the key to the future, it also opens the door to the future. If technology has this huge prospect of solving unemployment, why then should its expansion not be our priority?
Also, the trends of insecurity in Africa calls for nothing but technological expansion. Will my opponents say the #127 billion lost to cybercrime yearly in Nigeria according to the 26th National Conference of the Nigerian Computer Society can be recovered by educating all Nigerians? This is like saying educating all Bellites would reduce stealing in Bello hall, when they could instead fit CCTV cameras to monitor movements within their hall. Hence, an increase in insecurity calls not for educational inclusion but technological expansion.
If my opponents argue that educational inclusion is a prerequisite for technological expansion, they would only be confusing educational advancement with educational inclusion. While advancement focuses on improving the quality of knowledge, inclusion focuses on improving access to knowledge. The two are not the same. So, if either of these is ever a prerequisite for the other, it is technological expansion for educational inclusion, not the other way round.
Finally, there are three reasons upon which my opponents will win or lose today. One, if they come to address the priority of African governments without first addressing the problem of Africa, they are wrong, hence they lose this debate. Two, if they address the problem without sufficiently showing how educational inclusion can solve these problems, they are wrong; hence, they lose this debate because what cannot solve our problems should never be our priority. Three, if they define educational inclusion to mean educational advancement, they are wrong, hence they lose this debate. And if they fail to do any of these three please tell the noble men they are wrong. Hence, they lose this debate.