Category Archives: Universities

Indexing “Reclaiming ICT4D”


I always enjoy indexing my own books, although it can at times be brain-numbingly tedious!  So, I have spent the last few days proof-reading Reclaiming ICT4D, and at the same time constructing the index!  It has taken much longer than I had anticipated, but I am delighted that it really does capture the essence of what I have tried to write about.  It is always fascinating to see the juxtaposition of words: “holistic” next to “honour killings”; “operators” next to “oppression”; and “poverty” next to “power”…  However, having just finished it, I now wonder just how many people ever actually read indexes!

Anyway, for those who want to know what the book is really about, I am therefore posting the index for everyone to see if their favourite ICT4D topic is included – and a glimpse of part of it is shared below!  I very much hope that you find something of interest in it!

Now it will only be a few months for OUP to print the book!

index

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World Interfaith Harmony Week, 1-7 February


A chance posting by a friend on Facebook asking if anyone knew of good examples to celebrate the UN’s World Interfaith Harmony week, made me reflect on two interesting recent examples that I would just like to post here, both in acknowledgement of the importance of this issue, but also to encourage others to seek out and celebrate inter-faith dialogue.

shah-jahan-mosque-gallery_12I know that it is just a tiny drop in the ocean, but last week in the town of Woking in the UK there was a meeting of the Christian deanery synod which had invited leaders of the nearby local Shah Jahan mosque, Britain’s first purpose built mosque, to speak about their faith and what it means to be a Muslim in the UK today. The meeting was not without its challenges – I was saddened to see the Muslim speakers initially sitting at the back of the church before being invited to the platform – but if such local initiatives could be replicated and built on much more widely, we might just create a world where people can live together in greater understanding and peace.  Having lived in Woking for much of my early life, I always remember passing the mosque and being fascinated by the nearby cemetery, now thankfully restored and renovated.

Second, I was privileged recently to be invited by a group of former Commonwealth Scholars now back home living in Pakistan to dinner at Des Pardes in the village of Saidpur on the edge of Islamabad.  It is a very different and physical representation of what peaceful co-existence could be like. I know it has been reconstructed as a model village, in large part to attract tourists, but visiting there  I was particularly struck by the juxtaposition of the reconstructed Hindu Temple and a Sikh Gurdwara (until quite recently a post office) with nearby Islamic architectures, indicative not only of a past where peoples of different faiths did live (relatively) peacefully together, but also of a will to instill such understandings in the present day.  It made me think again about all of the horrors of partition in 1947, and indeed afterwards.  I hope that my pictures below capture just a bit of this very special place, shared with some brilliant people.

 

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Jesus College Women’s Second Boat wins Blades in May Bumps


Today was the final exciting day of the May Bumps on the Cam in Cambridge, with many crews vying to win their blades by bumping the crew above them each day, and others hoping not to get the wooden spoon!

Undoubtedly one of the most exciting races was the Women’s First Division, with the performance by Jesus College’s Women’s Second Boat (W2) being just amazing – OK, I have a special interest in this boat, but…   They started in second position in the Second Division, and then bumped every day to win their blades. As a result, Jesus were the only College to have two women’s crews in the First Division.

Jesus W2’s five bumps were as follows:

  • Wednesday: bumped Trinity Hall W1 and Murray Edwards W1
  • Thursday: bumped Selwyn W1
  • Friday: bumped St. Catharine’s W1
  • Saturday: bumped Peterhouse W1

The pictures below hopefully capture something of the excitement and energy of their final race today when they bumped Peterhouse!  It was a really great performance, and it was a privilege to watch the race surrounded by people from other Jesus crews.

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ICT4D Post at University of Cape Town


The University of Cape Town Department of Computer Science is seeking to make a permanent appointment at Professorial level in 2015. The candidate for this position will be a highly-motivated individual with a PhD in Computer Science and an excellent track record in leadership, teaching and research. The successful candidate will be expected to develop and teach Computer Science courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, supervise postgraduate students and provide a leadership role in academic strategy, research and innovation. The candidate should also demonstrate the ability to initiate research programmes, secure external funding, and develop industry and academic partnerships.

The Department hosts the UCT interdisciplinary Centre in ICT for Development. A specialist in ICT for Development would be preferred, but candidates with interests in any field of Computer Science are invited to apply. Our BSc Honours degrees are accredited by the British Computer Society and we have a large cohort of MSc and PhD students.

The annual remuneration package for 2014, including benefits, is R887 399 plus a 10% annual scarce skills allowance.

Application process:

To apply, please e-mail the completed UCT Application form (HR201) and all other relevant documentation as indicated on the form, plus a 2-3 page research and teaching statement, with the  subject line “Professor: Computer Science” followed by the reference number, to Ms Edith Graham at recruitment04@uct.ac.za

Address: Staff Recruitment and Selection, University of Cape Town, Private Bag X2, Rondebosch, 7700.
Telephone: +27 21 650 5405 Departmental website: http://www.cs.uct.ac.za

The application form can also be downloaded at http://web.uct.ac.za/depts/sapweb/forms/hr201.doc

An application which does not comply with the above requirements will be regarded as incomplete.

Reference number: SR031 /14 Closing date for applications: 15th September 2014

UCT is committed to the pursuit of excellence, diversity and redress. Our Employment Equity Policy is available at http://www.uct.ac.za/downloads/uct.ac.za/about/policies/eepolicy.pdf

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Reflections on “corruption”…


I have long argued that people tend to use the word “corruption” mainly to describe cultural practices that differ from those with which they are familiar.  It is a term that is almost always used negatively. Re-reading Transparency International‘s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index has very much reinforced this view, but in a way that I suspect will not be expected by those who read what follows!

Corruption TI

I have huge admiration and respect for the work of Transparency International. The map above shows the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 177 countries in the world.  In brief, it indicates that 69% of countries have a score of less than 50%, indicating a serious corruption problem.

However, what stands out most to me about this map is that it is very largely the countries of northern Europe, northern America, and Australasia that are perceived as being least corrupt.  The yellow “holiness” is so marked against the “evil” red of corruption that swathes most of the rest of the world!

Corruption according to Transparency International can be defined  “Generally speaking as ‘the abuse of entrusted power for private gain’. Corruption can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs”.

Three ideas seem particularly pertinent in this context:

  1. The notion of corruption is intimately tied up with the nature of capitalism.  Put simply, the apparently least corrupt countries according to this definition are generally the most advanced capitalist countries.  This suggests that it serves capitalist interests to try to reduce “corruption” as much as possible. It is interesting to ponder why this might be.  One reason may be that reducing the abuse of entrusted power for private gain actually reduces the tendency for the rate of profit to fall.  However, it is difficult to see how this might happen, and it seems in stark contrast to a fundamental characteristic of capitalism which is that it is actually designed to ensure the maximum possible private gain for the capitalists.  I guess the reality may be that limiting or preventing private gain from entrusted power actually enables the market (i.e. the principles of capitalism) to flourish as effectively as possible.  By extension a reduction of all entrusted power (i.e. limiting the power of the state) could be seen to enhance the power of the market, and therefore increase the potential for private gain of those who do not hold political power.  Hence, keeping the power of the state as small as possible, and ensuring that it functions in a way that does not lead to private gain for the holders of power in the state, will ensure that the maximum surplus profit is available to the leaders of global corporations and their shareholders.
  2. However, it is very clear that there is also corruption in the leading capitalist states.  The countries shaded yellow on the above map may be perceived as being less corrupt than others, but corruption still abounds in them!  Hence, there is huge hypocrisy when leaders (and indeed others) in the “yellow” countries accuse those in the “red” countries of being corrupt.  Those in the banking sector, for example, who pay themselves and their staff huge salaries are surely also using their positions of power for private gain?  The amount of money spent in US Presidential elections is also an indication of the way in which “money speaks”: Obama thus raised $715,677,692 in the 2012 elections, and Romney raised $446,135,997.  Together, this sum of money was worth more than the GDP of 25 countries in 2012 (according to UN figures).  One needs huge amounts of money to be elected President of the US, and those who contribute this money expect the policies that the President introduces to benefit them – for private gain.  Likewise, in the UK in 2012, Michael Meacher in a letter to the Guardian newspaper noted that “that the richest 1,000 persons, just 0.003% of the adult population, increased their wealth over the last three years by £155bn. That is enough for themselves alone to pay off the entire current UK budget deficit and still leave them with £30bn to spare”.  Is not this also a form of corruption?
  3. Corruption is seen differently in countries where rampant capitalism and private financial gain may not be seen as the most important priorities.  According to the Transparency International report, most countries in the world are perceived as having a serious corruption problem.  This poses an interesting question: might their systems of priorities actually in some ways be better?  If they were not, why do these systems persist?  For a person living in a culture where ties to family and tribe are more important than individual private financial gain, it must seem very wrong not to give employment opportunities to members of one’s family, regardless of actual ability. Likewise, where personal loyalty matters more than direct monetary return, supporting a friend to achieve their particular job aspirations would seem much more appropriate than ensuring that there is a “fair” competence based application process.  Giving gifts to reciprocate for generous hospitality is merely a different way of redistributing and sharing financial benefits.  Moreover, much of what passes for probity in the “yellow” countries actually tends to be a smokescreen for traditional modes of “corruption”.  The appointments process is invariably biased through friendship ties – not least through the reference system and the use of headhunters – and is never purely competence based.  Likewise, the UK’s honours system is still very largely determined by personal friendship networks, rather than necessarily by ability or contribution to the common good.

In short, I am more than ever convinced that “corruption” is simply a pejorative term that people use to describe political, social and economic systems that are  different from their own.  In a world dominated by capitalist interests, it is scarcely surprising that less-advanced capitalist economies are perceived as being more corrupt than those where the search for individual gain and success is highest.  Yet this very focus on individual gain in capitalist societies is itself fundamentally “corrupt”, since it detracts from the communal good which, at least for me, is ultimately far more valuable.  I suggest that we may have much more to learn from the mutually supportive social and cultural networks that underlie such “corrupt” regimes, than we do from the economic interests that determine definitions of probity in the capitalist heartland. However, this is because I believe that the common good is far more important than private individual gain.

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Latest round of Commonwealth Scholarships for citizens of ‘developing’ Commonwealth countries announced


Pakistan smallThe Commonwealth Scholarship Commission has just announced its application process for scholars wishing to study in UK universities for Master’s and PhD degrees from the 2014-15 academic year .  Its Electronic Application System is now live, and will close on 3rd December 2013.  All applications need to be made through national nominating agencies – full details of which are available on the Commission’s website.  Summary details of the application process taken directly from the Commission’s site are given below:

Commonwealth Scholarships – developing Commonwealth country citizens

Commonwealth Scholarships for students from developing Commonwealth countries are offered for Master’s, PhD, and split-site (PhD) study in the UK. These scholarships are funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Nominations

There is a nominating agency for Commonwealth Scholarships in each Commonwealth country. In addition, universities and university bodies in a number of developing Commonwealth countries are invited to nominate candidates to the CSC.

Each year, the CSC invites each nominating agency/university/university body to forward a specific number of nominations. Each nominating agency/university/university body is responsible for its own selection process, and in most cases they will set their own closing date, which will be before the CSC’s deadline for nominations (17 December 2013).

Approximately 300 scholarships are awarded each year. The CSC invites around three times more nominations than scholarships available – therefore, nominated candidates are not guaranteed to get a scholarship. There are no quotas for scholarships for any individual country. Candidates nominated by national nominating agencies are in competition with those nominated by universities/university bodies, and the same standards will be applied to applications made through either channel.

Terms and conditions and eligibility

Applications are considered according to the following selection criteria:

  • Academic merit of the candidate
  • Quality of the proposal
  • Likely impact of the work on the development of the candidate’s home country

See Selection criteria – 2014 Commonwealth Scholarships for developing Commonwealth country citizens for further details.

Please note that the CSC does not impose any age limit on applicants for its awards, but national nominating agencies may do so in line with their own priorities.

Candidates may also find the Feedback for unsuccessful candidates in 2013 useful.

Levels of study

You can apply for a Commonwealth Scholarship for the following levels of study:

  • Master’s (one-year courses only)
  • PhD
  • Split-site, where the CSC supports one year’s study at a UK university as part of a PhD being undertaken in your home country

All subject areas are eligible, although the CSC’s selection criteria give priority to applications that demonstrate strong relevance to development.

You are requested to apply for a course of study at a UK university with which the CSC has a part funding agreement.

How to apply

All applications must be made through your nominating agency (or university/university body, if applicable) in your home country. You must check with them in the first instance for specific advice on how to make an application and for their own closing date. The CSC cannot accept any applications direct from candidates.

The CSC expects all Commonwealth Scholarship candidates to be nominated by an approved nominating agency/university/university body, and to have completed an application form using our Electronic Application System (EAS).

Full help on how to apply using the EAS is provided in our guides, which should be read in full before making any attempt to use the EAS.

The EAS will close to applicants on 3 December 2013 and no further applications can be made after that date. The CSC will not accept any applications which are not submitted via the EAS to the nominating agency/university/university body in the candidate’s home country.

How to access the EAS

Please note that all enquiries about these scholarships should be directed to the nominating agency/university/university body in your home country.

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CTO is currently advertising for post of Head of Research and Consultancy


The Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) is seeking to appoint a Manager to serve as Head of its Research and Consultancy Division. This exciting opportunity would suit applicants from diverse backgrounds, including academia, the private sector and the international development community. Ideally, candidates for this role will have worked for at least five years within a university research environment, a top-tier consultancy, or within the research department of a leading company within the Telecoms, Media, or Technology sectors. The key role of this position is to manage the delivery of the CTO’s research and consultancy work, both for member organisations and other entities working in the field of ICT for Development. It is expected that applicants will be able to attract new research and consultancy projects, and also to undertake some of this work themselves. The appointment will be at Manager level with a starting salary in the range £36,000-£38,938, and it will be permanent subject to satisfactory performance and a 6 month probationary period. The closing date is 1st September 2013.

Outline Job Description:

The successful applicant will:
  • Lead, manage and motivate staff in the Research and Consultancy Division
  • dentify appropriate research and consultancy opportunities for the CTO, and manage their effective delivery
  • Undertake research and consultancy work in their own areas of expertise
  • Manage the CTO’s priority areas and their advisory boards
  • Manage the CTO’s alumni networks
  • Ensuring that the CTO’s website is updated in all areas of its research and consultancy activities
  • Be responsible for the effective control and management of the Division’s finances, in collaboration with the Finance and Administration Department
  • Lead relationships with relevant entities in one or more of the CTO’s regions
  • Lead the CTO’s work in one or more of its priority areas.
  • Assist in any other aspect of the CTO’s work as assigned by the Secretary General, or by the Head of the Operations Department

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