Glossophobia is still the world’s #1 fear, yet we have people who seem to have been born with a golden mic in their mouths. They wow us all the time. One of the best seasons to feed on the genius that oratory can be in the commencement speech cycle. They come once a year can carry platitudes and/or conjecture, but often they are delivered by people from all walks of life to inspire and challenge that next generation of leaders. Here are 2 that I took time to dive into…
Mark Zuckerberg – As a young man growing up and working in Africa’s nascent technology space, this man, perhaps together with Google, have had the biggest influence on my generation. I love that he is coming into Africa to see how far a dollar really goes.
“Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us. In our generation, the struggle of whether we connect more, whether we achieve our biggest opportunities, comes down to this — your ability to build communities and create a world where every single person has a sense of purpose.”
My work is in Leadership development, and for me these words cannot ring any truer. If you have heard me say it once, you have heard me say it again, I love computers and all the magic but I love people more. If we can give people a sense of purpose, build a community around service, we cannot get it wrong.
“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have started Facebook.”
In his book, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi writes – Be brave enough to put it all out there, stuff that worked and stuff that didn’t, with your insights on why and how to fix it for next time.
Zuckerberg is famous for dropping out of Havard, but that is not his most proud failure – its facemash, a prank site he put up which drew attention of the ad board. As he awaited his fate, he met Priscilla and as he says, “ But without Facemash I wouldn’t have met Priscilla, and she’s the most important person in my life, so you could say it was the most important thing I built in my time here.”
Oh how we need to teach the virtue of failing smart.
“I hope you find the courage to make your life a blessing.”
Donald J. Trump – Quite frankly, as a non-citizen global health advocate working in the expensive bubble that New York is, I happen to share a home city with the man many of my ilk have come to hate. But he is still the leader of the free world, so we got to listen.
“Adversity makes you stronger. Don’t give in. Don’t back down. And never stop doing what you know is right. Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy. And the more righteous you are, the more opposition that you will face. “
…this after the rhetoric on how the media has treated him and his political sojourn thus far. That’s not how the speech begins, though; he dishes out quite many thankful remarks to leaders, and graduates alike. He also pardoned cadets for minor offences and offered them a clean slate. I wish that life and the rest of us did this for our young people – that at the turn of important milestones is NOT the only opportunity to turn a new page, and a clean slate, but that you have that opportunity daily. Yes, every time the sun comes up, it’s a new slate, a new chance to make it better.
“Just days from now, you will put this vital skill into the service of your ships, your sectors, and your country. You’ll serve as deck watch officers on our amazing Coast Guard cutters. You’ll bring law and order to the dangerous waters as boating officers. You will block illegal shipments of cash, weapons and drugs. You will battle the scourge of human trafficking — something that people are not talking about, one of the big, big plagues of the world. Not our country only — the world.
The call to service continues to ring out, as if a call to this generation. I could not agree more. Service is the new way to work; service is the new entry to employment.
Americans will place their trust in your leadership, just as they have trusted in generations of Coast Guard men and women, with respect for your skill, with awe at your courage, and with the knowledge that you will always be ready. You are Always Ready.
For a man under so much fire, this speech came off as very composed. Perhaps thoughtful of his first world trip, and realizing the opportunity to speak a less combative audience, Mr Trump did make some strong remarks which are clearly of a bigger vision than his own political lifeline.
You can read the full speech text.
Last week, I interacted with a young bespectacled Kenyan girl – she is attending school in my neighbourhood, a proud P.7 candidate. Her testimony, was of being able to score above 95% in a couple of exams and 92% and 94% in the other 2 subjects.
She was happy particularly because she felt that this set of mock exams, taken from another school, was harder than the set of exams of her own school. She went on to say, she would like God to give her wisdom to get the other 2 subjects above 95% because her teacher mentioned to her its the new passmark for getting a distinction.
My jaw could not drop lower. She must be 13 or thereabout.
She went to narrate how her school takes pupils that do not score high grades to other schools for PLE. Apparently, Kampala based schools would like to maintain the impression of a perfect scores, so they offload pupils who are scoring 3rd and 4th grade marks to lower schools where they “fit” in the demographics. For these schools, these students will taint the scorecard, and cause their annual classification to dip when the UNEB comes reading the top 5 schools in each district.
How and when did we get to the deep echelons of such selfishness? And why is the future generation of this country being made to feel that they are inadequate just because they will skew the scores?
Parents, you need to be wary of a school that has no children in 3rd and 4th grade listed on their P7 lists for the last 10 years, because as we all know, academic brilliance is a normal binomial distribution – there will be quartiles, on either extremes.
I went to Kibuli Secondary School and i know that even the creme de la creme of post primary institutions, inspite of their very best selection efforts, still land, atleast in good time, students who cannot remain as good as their 4, 5 or 6 aggregates scored at PLE.
What are we doing to our children? All these teachers who are clamouring for more, for themselves, when silently they are depriving our children of the right to fail – because as we know, and much later in life, failure is a much celebrated ingredient of success. Why do we make our children feel bad because they did not score 95%?
Parents, why do you accept to live under the pressure to pay extra fees to one teacher, so your child can miss their rightful term holidays and weekends? Is it really true that this one teacher will make your child pass? And when that teacher gets hit by a boda boda? Then what, you will move on to pay the next teacher who promises your child a 4?
Why would you expect this teacher to be doubly motivated to help a handful of children pass just because they pay an extra 100,000/= , and get to miss out on their weekends and holidays? If this is what the teacher needs, why don’t we work through the PTA (Parents’ and Teachers’ Association) to motivate all the teachers in the same school so that other children who cannot afford this can also benefit from such a teacher? After all, isn’t sharing caring?
I cry for the children who are moved from one stream to another, and one school to another, and eventually get knocked out of a school because their grades are considered not good enough by the very administration whose job is to increase their confidence and ability to tackle academic and life challenges. For these children, failure will always be a mark on their faces, painted by the system we pay.
I am sick to my stomach that we let such culture take root in our feeble education system.
I am ashamed for the parents who walk out of the headteachers’ offices convinced that their children are not good enough to sit their final exams at a school they have patronised for the better part of 6 years.
I am angry at the idea that you drive back home and find the words to package that hope shattering nonsense, and unwittingly become the postman for your child’s new found future – a future that says they are not good enough; at least not good enough to sit in the school they have sacrificed early morning for all their lives.
This same school, when the results are out, will pay a premium fee to the press, for an advert that says they had 90% first grades, and the other 10% were second grades. They had no 3rd and 4th grades. Oh how conveniently magical!
At Outernet256, we believe that free access to information is a human right. The Internet has dramatically enhanced our ability to exercise this right, but unfortunately most humans cannot access the Internet. Today, over 4.3 billion people cannot connect to the Internet at all and another roughly 1 billion people have their Internet connections censored or monitored. A world where only 20% of humans have truly free access to digital information is unacceptable. That is why we support the creation of Humanity’s Public Library, an initiative by Outernet.
Outernet broadcasts a data signal from satellites that is free to receive anywhere on Earth. While this is not an Internet connection, it is a free stream of critical information. What information is considered “critical?” You decide.
Outernet256 and Creative Commons Uganda are co-hosting the first edit-a-thon for Humanity’s Public Library on July 18-19 2015, at Victoria University, alongside #MozFestEA to decide what is included in this library. Anyone on Earth is encouraged to participate – details on how to have your voice heard in this process can be found at http://editathon.outernet.is. We want to encourage our users to submit their own work and to submit content from Outernet256 that is licensed for redistribution. One such work is this very blog post. Copy these words and post them on your own blog and let’s all gather together and build a #LibraryFromSpace.
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My Speech On the Occasion of the 7th Graduation of Greenbridge School of Open Technologies – Kampala
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I lead a team of 10, supporting ICT for Watoto Ministries having previously worked with USAID and EGPAF’s STAR-SW Project in Mbarara. Before this, I led a team of 4 managing ICT at the International Health Sciences University, work that I took up after supporting the Ministry of Health’s efforts in Health Management Information Systems as far as Rakai and Bududa!
I have been fortunate to travel this country, from Laminadera to Bunagana, from Lake Katwe to Malaba – Uganda is gifted by nature; but most importantly, this country has potential in the multitudes of young people across hundreds of communities.
My work has also taken me to Nigeria, Ghana, SA, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda. I have met more young people, lived through better infrastructure and you can’t help but marvel at flying back home. It’s beautiful here.
You also cant help but see that the world out there is changing so fast, I started out in this profession when my course works would fit on a3.5 inch floppy disk – and now, only a dozen plus one years later, they are gone! You can check blood-pressure on a wearable gadget, you can study without ever being in a classroom, and my preschool kids know their way around a phablet!
Education, Health and all of life is not what it used to be. The product of education is perhaps a most interesting thing – the world now desires a knowledge worker – fast, radical, with highly relevant and immediately applicable skills. There are 2 lessons that I have learnt in the last few years that I feel are profound in my profession.
Multi-Disciplinary Technology Evangelists
You see, traditional approaches to life have changed. Wealth and economic development in the information era has now shifted to knowledge, learning and innovation, which reside in the minds of people like you and me.
The challenge is to live and thrive in a world and community that demands more innovation. And the demands are off the keyboards and app-stores that we are so familiar with. The challenge is in the slum trenches, in hospital document stores and in government departments that are straddled with archaic use, access and management of information and systems.
But who will be the technology evangelist that will take interest in health systems? Who is interested in how citizenry access open data? Who will make ICT 4 Education their priority? Because I have learned that I cannot just be a great innovator and technology evangelist, I need to anchor into a social sector in order for my technology to be felt. That is what how I attempt to define ICT for development. The defining indicators for development are immunized infants, literate children, active young people, empowered communities and informed citizens.
Which sector will you influence with technology today?
Please note that there will be no quick fixes. Success will be intentional, over time with major commitment and dedication from leaders, knowledge workers, resource mobilisers and everyone. The starting point is a generation that has in equal measure an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit which can be supported with vibrant research and training (such as at Greenbridge) as well as innovative programming delivered by governments.
Being a Young Leader
That brings me to the second most important lesson in my life, one that I am passionate about and continues to be exciting and challenging. This is the question of young leaders – you see, this is not about age, after all that is just a number – “young leaders” is much more about leading in this generation; about identifying with the issues of this generation; and about connecting with this generation in their own unique way.
How do you lead a generation that prefers a mobile screen to face time? How do you connect with a language based on shorthand? How do you inform an informed generation? Moreover, how do you “hang out” with them – at their wells and grazing grounds?
You can, if you are one of us. If we let you lead us – something we do when we know that you understand our language and can communicate with us; but also that you can uniquely congregate us around the most important issues of our time. Jobs. Opportunities. Empowerment.
To be one of us, you have got to be young – literary and at heart. But you cannot be a leader without learning the most important aspects of being a leader:
- That Leaders Eat Last – That there is a social contract we sign with our leaders, affording them all the perks, privileges and rights; in order that they will stand up for us and protect us and identify with us. If you want to become a leader, putting others first is important. Always.
- That Leadership is Learned Over Time – Its not like an instant message; like a picture download, actually it feels more like a 6 semester course, spread over the rest of your life. And no, google does not work either, you cannot google leadership. To enjoy the perks andprivileges above, you have to work for it. To be in Hon. Anite’s shoes in 2016, you ought to have started, because leadership takes time.
I believe in young people, and I believe in their empowerment. I believe in the power of education to transform a generation and in the power of a generation to transform a nation.
But you must remember this, Uganda needs young technology evangelists who are ready to permeate all of life’s spheres of influence – The Arts, Education, The Media, Religion, Business, Medicine – with transformative technology.
Greenbridge and institutions such as this seek to curve out a different mould of a young technologically apt leader – are you the one Uganda is waiting for?
Lastly, I find this Alvin Toffler quote very interesting: ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’
Thank you for listening to me.
The Global Health movement has grown beyond its earliest ideals, encompassing professionals of all manner and kind. The reality of Ebola, today, shows us that all of us, undeniably, play a part in the health of our communities. No-longer can we blame cultural practices, or hide behind the hope of miraculous signs and wonders – today, we all actively take part in the shape and form of our health. Or God forbid, we die.
The GHC Model takes a young and passionate generation of global health enthusiasts and places them at the forefront of health care, in deserving communities. For 1 year, I served as a fellow, I learned, I grew and now I am a sold out advocate. But the journey for health equity is a journey of a lifetime. GHC has launched Alumni programs across the 2 continents, to keep the candle burning.
Fellows, Alumni and Friends, today, I present to you the GHC Alumni Agenda.
Alumni are critical to the mission of mobilizing a community of emerging leaders to build the movement for health equity. 6 years after the first class, there are now more alumni than fellows. Alums are unique because after the fellowship, they are blown by winds further and in more industries than GHC could have managed to place them. While there, their collective experiences can still be harnessed towards improving the health of those most in need, both in their own countries and beyond. GHC is committed to supporting alumni in their leadership development and involvement in the global health equity movement.
The alumni program is guided by GHC’s leadership practices and framework that integrates professional development, interior formation and intellectual formation within the context of the self, world and community. GHC believes that leadership qualities and skills crucial to achieving social change and progress in global health are not innate and require regular attention and practice.
GHC leaders (Fellows and Alumni) are agents of change who: Are committed to social justice; Collaborate; Inspire and mobilize others; Adapt and innovate; Are self-aware and committed to learning; and Get results.
To date, Alumni Committees have been established in all countries where GHC has fellows. It is the role of the Alumni Committee, facilitated by the GHC Program Manager in that country, to determine the priority activities and approaches for the year. This strategy should reflect strategies that reflect on GHC’s vision of movement building and in particular, goals for the alumni program and our approach to leadership development.
We have ambitious plans, to hold a sports gala for our placement organisations, and a hackathon to solve pressing needs for KCCA. We also plan to support each other in personal endeavors. We will expand the annual East Africa alumni retreat in January 2015, as well as supporting the recruitment of new GHC fellows
Similar to GHC’s fellowship programming, the Uganda Alumni committee would like to achieve the following objectives for Alumni and fellows:
Knowledge Sharing and Communications – We would like to see alumni interact with each other in ways that sharpen one another, including targeted workshop sessions. Alumni should tap into each other’s wealth of experience and knowledge in health and development and allow for greater information sharing and collective wisdom.
Community Building and Networking: We hope that Alumni achieve the objective of remaining plugged and connected post-fellowship. We will enjoy our company as well as that of new partnerships and relationships. We will encourage networking opportunities and even work/project collaborations. We will support GHC recruitment for new fellow classes, because we would like to add the best to our community.
Professional Development: Even as Alumni, we hope that you continue to prioritize skills development and the sharing of professional resources to allow alums to better perform in their jobs and open the doors to new opportunities. Moreover, Alums are already signed up to support fellows, as part of the mentor-ship program.
Accompaniment/Self-care: As members of the Global Health Corps community, we live out our values through our behavior and our dealings with others. We transcend ourselves and our immediate identity as we expand our circle of care and concern to include our organizations, our fellow corps members and, last but not least, the very communities we are called to serve in throughout our careers.
I encourage the Global Health Corp Alumni to support the Alumni country program. Together, we continue to achieve the dream for health equity and social justice.
Together with GHC CEO, Barbara Bush, find out how Men can help STOP the spread of HIV to Infants and Children: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-bush/how-can-men-help-stop-the_b_5862200.html
This week, #ela14 takes place at the fancied Munyonyo Resort, 12km south east of downtown Kampala. eLearning Africa is the largest gathering of elearning and ICT supported education professionals on the continent. And it happens annually. I attended Cotonou 2 years ago and Dar es Salaam prior to that. I can confirm that if elearning, online learning and ICTs for education interest you, this is a great place to be. So lets examine a little what kind of Ugandans would attend elearning africa – Teachers of ICTs, University ICT departments, elearning Service Providers, Policy makers from the Ministry of Education, and a ton of exhibitionists – software vendors, technology vendors and as always, a number of schools looking to attract support from represented donor agencies. The potential to network gainfully is enormous, as this conference averages 1400 professionals over 3 days!
Last year in Windhoek, Namibia, 86% of the participants came from African countries. It is not clear how many came from within Namibia. That would be an interesting statistic, because as the ICT Association of Uganda has already lamented, the conference fees for the category ‘African Nationals based in Africa’, stands at €380 (an equivalent of Ushs 1,350,000 – One Million Three Hundred Fifty Thousand Shillings.) To get the context right, this figure represents about 4 times the net salary of a primary school teacher, and about the gross salary of a university teaching assistant!
I have had the honor of serving in a senior management position at a university, and facing the National Council of Higher Education. Particularly, my interest was tweaked when an NCHE representative asked the University to guarantee that elearning students would access their courses – either by providing internet access to the hosted learning materials and/or providing the means (read gadgets) for the students. Access to the internet remains a critical factor in any online and elearning venture. 3 years later, I am happy to note that overall access to the internet in Uganda has increased – but that is to the outside. It is still not clear what the national policy for elearning is – I hope this conference will bring us to the table.
Within Uganda, one of the hugest drivers for elearning will be the Research and Education Network for Uganda – RENU. Over the last 8 years, RENU has gone from a concept on paper to become a driving force in promoting research collaboration between institutions of higher learning in Uganda and beyond. Through its mission, RENU hopes to promote knowledge creation and sharing amongst scholars and researchers through the provision of advanced network services. The realisation of RENU’s vision and mission is closely intertwined with elearning and online learning. RENU seeks not to create superstars, but a network of like minded centres of excellence in research and education.
Online learning (and indeed, some aspects of elearning) present a new problem for our age-old standards. MIT, Harvard and Berkeley have Free Online Courses -the question is, and appropriately for this day and age,if i covered 15 online courses, from various providers, totaling enough credits for a degree, would I be awarded?
Is the Uganda National Examinations Board (as well as the National Council for Higher Education) ready to accredit and honor hours spent learning online?
I have also scoured the Uganda Ministry of Education website for any policy documentation on elearning and i did not find any. Does that explain why the chief hosts are the ministry of ICT and the Uganda Communications Commission? I appreciate, the role of technology in elearning but i also sense that the leading policy body for education, at an event hosted by the ‘Government of Uganda’ – the Ministry of Education is on a long leash.
This year’s theme, ‘Opening Frontiers to the Future’, is one that calls to mind, what we would like elearning and online learning to be like – when our children’s children go to school. Uganda – what is your frontier to the future of elearning?