AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Negotiating new ICTs in the education sector in Afghanistan - participation, adoption and appropriation

by Melanie Stilz

Institution: Dublin City University
Department: School of Communications
Year: 2015
Keywords: Communication; ICT4D; Development communication; Participation; Technology appropriation
Record ID: 1181742
Full text PDF: http://doras.dcu.ie/20433/


The importance of a participatory component has become broadly accepted in today’s international development programs. Accordingly, most organisations dealing with technology-use strategies in the education sector in Afghanistan highlight concepts like ‘empowerment’, ‘Afghan ownership’ and ‘partnership’ in their project descriptions. Yet the definition of participation ranges from the idea that all stakeholders should actively take part to a more narrow concept of extracting local knowledge to design programs externally. This limited participation is in the case of ICTs often further reinforced by technology being seen as a black box1 (a stable ‘input-output device’) with a predefined optimal application that needs to be taught by the technology experienced West to those in need of development. This is often even motivated by particular ideas about how the technology should support certain educational practice and organisational structures. In my PhD thesis I explore the evolution and consequences of ICT project design and implementation from the perspectives of different actors involved in, or affected by, the intervention. The empirical aspects are centred on three examples all located in the Afghanistan setting: a school-laptop project, a university network infrastructure project and the broader question concerning what role ICT capacity building plays. As a consultant in the field I was able to follow the projects’ development over the course of several of years and gained profound insight. The research is informed by a broad-based review of the research literature in fields of communication and development, Science and Technology Studies and related areas. Approaches from each field contributed substantially but also each showed their individual limitations with regard to this study. The ‘Technology-in-Use’ perspective by Carroll (2004) is suggested as a suitable starting point for an interdisciplinary approach.