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>Knowledge Bank or knowledge network? Repository or living tool?
>The World Bank clearly has a very important part to play in facilitating
>access to appropriate knowledge for low income countries.
>To undertake this role well, the World Bank has an active role to play as
>a knowledge node - a link between disparate communities which share common
>problems; a forum for the recording and registering of new needs and the
>past failures of development management.
>Providing interactive fora in the operational sphere would allow the World
>Bank to operate as a critical part of a knowledge network. Providing the
>infrastructure for the interaction of grassroots organisations in the
>creation and shaping of appropriate knowledge is essential.
>Ontology (being) is fundamental in shaping epistemology (knowledge). New
>technology can be shaped so as to provide better access to the context of
>the other: technical web sites need pictoral and voiced companion sites
>which enable entry to the day of an African girl child
> or Navajo rug weaver. Understanding the constraints of their daily routines
>gives good guidance on the forms of education which are viable.
> The concept of knowledge bank is already a dead paradigm: it is the
>image of a repository rather than of a living tool for communicating our
>respective conditions of being and the solutions and alternatives which
>may exist elsewhere for coping with the problems in those conditions.
>The concept of a knowledge bank is too closed and deterministic: it
>claims a centrality for experts at the cost of marginalising the need to
>listen to 'clients'.
>New technologies enable a more flexible approach to 'knowledge generation
>and management'. Perhaps the paradigm of 'global knowledge' has been too
>restricted: perhaps part of the goal should have been the more proactive
>approach of enabling southern partners to set up their own independent web
>sites in the mass.
>This would have ensured that the generation of knowledge and its
>subsequent codification and very often 'petrification' was not so northern
>biased. It would create the base for a more balanced dialogue. The
>harnessing of free web site facilities for southern colleagues with donor
>support for the local telephone bills necessary to support such sites
>would release us all from the worn out debate of whether this technology
>is only for the elite and over determined by the key donor agencies.
>The World Bank does need to be in there - it is a key institution for
>diffusing the web site skills and all that these can mean for e-commerce
>for Africa - but the mass of client sites which ensure the appropriateness
>of its knowledge paradigms also need to be brought into being.
>The Panos discussion is very useful and very interesting but perhaps we
>should start putting alternative paradigms up there in concrete form.
>My suggestion: a World Bank team tuned up on how to train, deliver and
>enable mass web site capacity in Africa on the most locally sustainable
>base. Knowledge then would take a two way flow and dialogue be more
>balanced. That would be a knowledge driven bank, a bank which supported
>the development of knowledge networks.
>Places to start with web sites: the women of senegal who themselves
>determined that female circumcision would no longer be practiced in their
>villages; Africa's female farmers who are repeatedly bypassed in the
>transmission of knowledge resources by external male experts; community
>organisations concerned with the welfare of older persons in Africa (next
>year is the International Year of the Older Person ).
>Frequently, the argument is made that the Internet contains too much
>knowledge and the problem is one of selectivity in knowledge management:
>for grass roots African society, much of indigenous knowledge and
>experience has no formal record in the knowledge bases of policy makers,
>both international and national. Clearly, Africa is a key location for a
>knowledge network determined on making a difference.
>The Ghaclad meeting in Ghana in May of this year showed that there is a
>will in Africa to embrace the new technologies in developing knowledge
>necessary for Africa. The problem is one of resourcing and of local
>skilling - if the knowledge bank holds its cyber resources in DC and does
>not make them available to Africa, it has missed the potential of the new
>technology and its very real economic role.
>Professor of Organisation and Development Management
>The Business School
>University of North London
Patrick O'Beirne B.Sc. M.A. MICS. Year 2000 & euro Consultant
PSP, TickIT, Y2K PC software assessment, euro(EMU) conversion
http://www.iol.ie/sysmod Tel: +353 (0)55 22294 Fax: 22297
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