A letter to the teachers of English: 97Computeracy for teachers and learners (1) [Archives:2005/886/Education]

October 17 2005

PROF. M.N.K.BOSE [email protected]
Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb

Dear Fellow teachers,

Computeracy is not a new word these days; I hope all of you know this word. It is a combination of 'computer' and 'literacy' and it means 'being literate in computer' i.e. how to read and write with a computer. I am aware that many of our learners are familiar with computers but I wonder if they are computerate. I see a number of young boys at the fun center playing games on computers; it is definitely a good and prosperous sign for the country. In one of my assignments to my students, I asked them to write ways of weaning youngsters from qat; invariably, the suggestion was to open more Internet cafes so that youngsters may divert their attention from qat. In the YT of 11 July, I was glad to read the suggestion by Eshraq Al-Bodigi that opening more Internet Cafes and Chat Cafes may wean the youth of this country from wasting time chewing qat. Such concern for the youth of the country, especially by the youngsters of this country will do a lot of good to this country in the future.

The world is going computer, as every one knows. We will lag behind if we don't get to know how to use computers for our day-to-day activities. The writer of the article mentioned above is worried that the youth who go the Internet Cafes waste their time as they chat meaninglessly just to spend time; it is wasting time and money. One of the reasons for this meaningless activity is that the youth do not know how to use computers usefully. It is one thing to know how to operate the computer but it is more than that to know how to use it profitably.

These are days of 'call centres' for e-business and there are a lot of employment opportunities for the youth at these centres. Time is not far when Yemen will have such centers and the youth should prepare themselves for the jobs, for which it is important to learn to computers usefully. A degree in computer science or engineering is not enough for success at call centeres, because I have seen in India how these graduates find themselves inadequate at the job. A recent survey published in India shows that top ranking engineering graduates fail to grab lucrative jobs in the multinational firms mainly because they are not equipped with necessary communication skills. This is true of jobs at call centres and many graduates are rejected at the call centeres exclusively because they are not able to cope with the communicative needs expected at these centres.

This makes us think about using computers profitably, becoming real computerate. It is necessary that teachers at all levels should become computer-literate so that they can teach their students how to use computers usefully. I know that almost all schools run by private management have computers and teach computer courses as a part of their curriculum. I am worried about those less-lucky children who study in government schools. I hear that government schools are equipped with computers in a phased manner and some schools have already got computers. I don't know if these schools teach their students computer courses; it is common in government schools that computers supplied will not have accessories or the schools may not have regular power supply or there may not be teachers capable of using computers or, if all of them are there, the head of the school, to keep the machine safe, may not take it out of his cupboard at all. This is how most of the help provided by the government fails to reach the students. Let me continue this discussion further.

Yours fraternally,

M. N. K. Bose