There are a lot of problems that exist that you don’t notice when you are living in a developed nation with a certain level of infrastructure in place. There are students from Afghanistan, Rwanda, Kenya, and other nations currently studying the ICT Innovator Course, and some of the problems they face in their home nations are things we would find unbelievable in a developed nation.

Take elections, for example. In Japan, we write our vote on a piece of paper and put it into a ballot box. The reason such a system can work is because we live in a safe and secure society with properly function election commissions that we can trust. In Afghanistan, there is a lot of electoral fraud for which there is no easy solution. Even the police are not trusted, so the problem is quite severe.

“I want to see these students returning to their home nations and realizing their dreams as ICT specialists...”

The requirements for ICT in Afghanistan

It is a constant battle with traffic in Afghanistan, where the infrastructure for metropolitan traffic is still not complete. If you have your own vehicle, it is possible to run a bus yourself and get paid like a taxi to move people around. But in a situation where not even bus stops are installed and there are no proper means to pay fares, you can see people getting off in the middle of a traffic jam, or people getting on in the middle of the road and taking their time paying the fare. These situations can be the trigger to set off yet another traffic jam. What really impressed students from these countries is the amazing convenience of our smart cards for our railways. They realized that it was this ICT technology that was required for their public transportation. I would say these discoveries were only possible for me because I was taking part in the ICT Innovator Course with its curriculum centering on practical issues with inquiries into societal problems.

Education for children through e-learning

As you may already know, there are many children around the globe that are unable to receive an education. This is a problem that was burned into the heart of one Japanese student who had spent time in Senegal. One of the issues is the pure problem of the ratioof students to the number of available teachers, but also there is the economic facet which keeps a lot of children away from school. He is now trying hard to solve this problem by increasing the use of e-learning in education.

In Japan, the tendency is for the focus of ICT to be a part of the business model for venture businesses. But just look outside for a moment. Developing nations are faced with any number of problems, with many people facing obstacles to just living their daily lives. I would first like you to be just aware of this situation.

The joy of interacting with people from other countries while still being in Japan

The great thing about the ICT Innovator Course is that we get students coming from all over the world, bringing their dreams and desires with them. Being able to interact with them daily means that we are able to experience the real world while still living in Japan. These students have taught me so much by helping me see things I didn’t realize were there.

If you can actually experience this, what more satisfying life could you lead? I want to see these students returning to their home nations and realizing their dreams as ICT specialists such as ICT Engineers or ICT Architects, being ICT innovators and solving the problems in their societies using their own unique ideas.

Mamoru Ito

Assistant Vice President / Professor