"Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world".
In the quest to understand how societies function in order to improve them, many a researchers have propounded ideas by which they thought societies should be organized, resources allocated and utilized.
As we rethink and seek to strengthen social development in present times and for the future, one important fact should not escape our attention, and that is how to put societies and for that matter human beings at the center of policies.
The world is gradually moving away from the practice where policies are designed by people who most of the time do not even understand how the targeted beneficiaries or societies are organized and function. So they ignorantly try to implement these ideas, and the outcomes have been disastrous.
How do we empower the poor, the vulnerable and the marginalized in order to maximize the benefits? Does empowerment mean development partners must continue throwing money at these people as it has been the case in most instances? Or show targeted beneficiaries how they could find resources through their own efforts?
In our candid view social empowerment policies better work when the so called beneficiaries are involved at every stage of planning and implementation. Listening to poor people is key in trying to promote their voices. Through this we can better understand and address their needs. By so doing people will feel ownership of the initiative and will be willing to see to their success. To foister a program on a people is bound to end in failure.
Another area we will like to see changes concerns knowledge acquisition and technology transfer. It is better to transform education to make it more responsive to the needs and aspirations of a people. The comparative advantage the developed countries have over developing countries is mostly in the areas of expertise and technology. We have seen how technology has brought about change in many counties and continue to affect developments around the world.
Rapid transfer of technology could help bridge the technology divide. Strengthening and enhancing education is crucial. The systems in most African countries have not transformed from the post independent era-type of education which was designed to limit people to acquiring certain skill sets only. Over half a century after independence these archaic educational systems are still being used. The system does not teach people how to add value to raw materials, how to invent and manufacture, rather it teaches how to become an employee.
We strongly believe that a paradigm shift in social development needs to include a fundamental change in the existing educational system.
In conclusion we at the Center for Africa Development and Progress (CADeP) believe social change should truly seek to improve human life with the full participation of people, a shift in policy should end the practice of giving handouts and instead concentrate on empowering people to be self sustaining.
Qualitative education cannot also be ignored as well as knowledge and technology transfer.