Whereas the ever growing world of IT may bring different kinds of problems related to cyber security, identity theft, credit card frauds, and fraudulent online businesses to developed countries, training and developing a computer-savvy youth is, with no doubt, a much needed necessity of developing countries, particularly Afghanistan. In order to meet the changes in digital world and become a decent competitor in online world currently encompassing from governance, business, and office works to educational institutions, a nation must be equipped with digital literacy in the modern age.
Henry Henderson, in his phenomenal big work (Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology) defines computer literacy as, “The term computer literacy [suggests] that computer skills were now as important as the traditional skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic.” Computer literacy may differ in different countries,
even in different areas of the same country, for different ages. In developed countries, it can comprise
advanced skills such as programming, networking, AI basics and so on, while for the same category, in underdeveloped countries it might mean introduction to computing devices, basic skills of
word processing and spreadsheet applications, etc.
As mentioned earlier, digital literacy can have different meanings for different parts of the same country. In Afghanistan, for example, in some provinces people have access to electricity and the residents are familiar with different computing and mobile devices, such as desktop and laptop computers and smartphones as
well as have a way to broadband Internet, though expensive and low-speed. On the contrary, many
other provinces lack access to electricity, and majority of the people have no or little knowledge of
advancements in information technology. Of course, many of them have not used any kind of computing systems or even a smart phone.
This lacking of accessibility to basic utilities along with unfamiliarity with electronic devices poses much more difficult challenges and responsibilities for IEA, if not paid attention to may cause serious worries for the government. This disunion, called digital division in computer science jargon, is worth consideration, as
it can both ease and trouble the government. At first, the digital division requires different curriculum for different parts of the country, based on accessibility to basic utilities and understanding of technology of a region. Second, besides providing founding infrastructure, IEA needs a large group of skilled teachers and trainers for a particular region.
As Afghanistan, especially the private sector becomes more digitalized, the generation lacking skills needed in digital age might think they are getting, as Henderson suggests, “second degree” services. A man who does not know how to apply for online ID or passport will either fall in the hands of wrong people or may feel
desperate and miserable. Similarly such person will also consider himself or, in turn, the world to be a strange and bizarre place where he/she doesn’t fit. Therefore, IEA is responsible to wisely analyze different aspects of the issue in question and find suitable solutions. In addition, IEA is not only responsible for digitalization of Afghanistan, but protecting the nation from cyber-attacks, information theft, credit card scams, online frauds, etc. also becomes responsibility of the new government.
Rahmat Shah Faraz