The growth potential: Girls engage with the promise of ICT in agriculture
For the female students of the Thungmahamek School for the Deaf, ICT provides an invaluable opportunity for empowerment – the toolkit for equal access to economic and social advancement. That potential represents the promise of technology at its best, overcoming disadvantages and allowing each person to contribute to fullest of her abilities.
On the occasion of the International Girls in ICT Day in April 2018, Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the International Telecommunication Union partnered with UNESCO to invite girls and young women from marginalized areas in Thailand. Together with the FAO, the Research Center of Communication and Development Knowledge Management (based at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University) and CISCO, they organized a one-day training titled ‘Agritech Using ICTs’. During the event, participating girls had a chance to learn about digital opportunities from visual displays, various digital tools and successful female entrepreneurs on how they can use such resources for employment and skills development.
In their own words, these girls eloquently share how the experience changed their understanding not just of how ‘smart’ farms can optimize agricultural practices through ICT, but also their own potential as smart ICT professionals. The impact of such empowerment can best be judged by their own accounts:
After joining International Girls in ICT Day on 26 April 2018 with our teachers at the UNESCO, we, the girls from the Thungmahamek School for the Deaf in Thailand, had a chance to further realize the benefits of ICT beyond our previous educational experience. This included learning about the impact of ICT on our health concerning clean food from a ‘smart’ technology-enhanced farm.
|Participants in the International Girls in ICT Day event included Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, International Telecommunication Union (ITU),Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Asia-Pacific Telecommunity (APT), DTAC, Thailand’s National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), The Research Center of Communication and Development Knowledge Management (based at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University) (CCDKM), UNESCO, CISCO and Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University|
In particular, the experience taught these students that they themselves can be active participants in the wave of new innovation:
Most importantly, we developed a new perception that even without large land plots or big investments, anyone can run their own pilot smart farms. From what we observed and learned from the event, agritech for any smart farm is not that difficult or complicated – agritech is more friendly and simple, and to be a smart farmer is not that difficult. Although we are deaf youth, we gained more confidence in ourselves as pilot smart farmers, because we had a chance to meet lots of other smart farmers and learned about best practices.
While the context is agritech, the lesson of empowerment through ICT has broader implications:
Being deaf, I had no idea that I could be a smart worker or any kind of smart professional, especially to be a smart farmer. This Girls in ICT Day event has sparked a new mindset, new ideas for me. I will go back home to my rural area and try to help my family to pilot a smart farm. I will start by taking my family for a study visit to a successful smart farm, and then we will pilot our own.
It is that realization from concept to practice that ICT education seeks to achieve. For the students of Thungmahamek School, that process is already underway:
Our team gained similar ideas to develop our school farm to be one of the smart farms in Thailand. Yes, it will be created by the smart, deaf students.
As UNESCO Bangkok marks International Youth Day on 10 August 2018, Thungmahamek School students’ personal empowerment and realization of their potential provides an example for us all.
For more information, visit https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Digital-Inclusion/Women-and-Girls/Girls-in-ICT-Portal/Pages/Portal.aspx