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Library and information Association of Eritrea organized conference on building awareness of knowledge society

Knowledge is fundamental to the politics, economics, and culture of modern society.

The idea of the present-day knowledge society is based on the vast increase in data creation and information dissemination that results from the innovation of information technologies. At all areas of cultural reproduction, including aspects such as information, consumption, health, research and education, society is the means of production. Among the many challenges that contribute to a global digital divide of knowledge society are issues regarding economic resources, geography, age, gender, language, education, social and cultural background, employment and disabilities.

According to UNESCO, “Knowledge Societies are societies in which people have the capabilities not just to acquire information but also to t rans form it into knowledge a n d understanding, which empowers them to enhance their livelihoods and contribute to the social and economic development of their communities.” The concept of ‘knowledge societies’ includes a dimension of social, cultural, economic, political and institutional transformation. In this context, we can say that the Eritrean government is committed to offer equal and inclusive access to all knowledge based on the principles of cultural diversity, equal access to education, equal access to information and academic freedom. has put strong emphasis on social development, investing heavily in education, health care, and poverty reduction.

The most critical element for securing Eritrea’s future depends on the promotion of social justice through the creation of knowledge society. Building a specific Eritrean Knowledge Society that considers and respects the countries’ economic, social and cultural elements is a timely issue. That’s why the Library and Information Association of Eritrea (LIAE) organized a conference on raising awareness on how to create knowledge society in Eritrea on 28th of February. Participants from d i f f e r e n t g o v e r nme n t and non-government departments attended the conference. D r Te m e s g e n Tesfamariam, Mr. Kiflom Mikael, Dr Tesfay Haile and Ms. Weyni Bairu presented papers on the universal meaning and characteristics of knowledge, the role of knowledge in development, the role of ICT in creating knowledge society and knowledge management respectively. The focal message of the presenters is that the raw data of information that is created and disseminated should be transformed into resources that allow society to take effective action. Knowledge has always been a factor of production and a driver of economic and social development. Therefore, to get the required knowledge information should be managed this way: data that is maintained in IT infrastructure has to be interpreted in order to render information. The information in our information systems has to be understood in order to emerge as knowledge. Knowledge allows managers to take effective decisions. Effective decisions have to lead to appropriate actions. Appropriate actions are expected to deliver meaningful results.

The emergence of the Knowledge Society (KS) built on the growing influence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) is bringing about a fundamental reshaping of the global economy and society. As Eritrea is entering a new era of economic revival, drafting a national ICT Policy and a national development roadmap is an essential tool in the human resource development of the country. The broad policy objectives of the draft national ICT policy of Eritrea should focus on expanding ICT infrastructure and its integration throughout the country, widening utilization of ICT services by government and private sectors and reducing the span of the digital divide between rural and urban areas and disadvantaged parts of the society.

Today, more than any time, our world is flooded with immense information and globally we are struck by information obesity. As part of the developing countries, Eritrea is going through such an experience and to minimize the problem we need to transform our society based on services, education, and creative activities. Tools of ICT have the potential to transform education, training, employment and access to life-sustaining resources for all members of society. If our Knowledge workers are networked together, they can definitely change the society. These knowledge workers may include software engineers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, accountants, lawyers etc. Knowledge workers play an important role in analyzing data to establish relationships, assessing input in order to evaluate complex or conflicting priorities, identifying and understanding trends, making connections, understanding cause and effect, thinking broadly, accessing detailed data, producing a new capability and creating or modifying a strategy.

Following discussions at the conference, the participants recommended some important points in relation to the role of ICT in promoting knowledge society. In all sectors we have fragmented data and we need to have a centralized metadata system of each sector. We need to promote research-based sectors compatible with IT and the in and out flow of information should be smooth. To create centralized ICT systems we need to have a detailed platform to all sectors and there need to be data sharing protocols.

In addition, the conferees underlined that the promotion of knowledge society in Eritrea should be attained through the provision of quality education, creation of literate society, access of information to all and development of ICT skills from kindergarten to higher levels. Educational institutions from elementary to higher level, research institutions, government ministries, international partners, private institutions and professional associations are expected to be major stakeholders in the development of knowledge society.

One of the ultimate goals of LIAE is to create a society characterized by lifelong learning, knowledge development and knowledge sharing. The association strongly believes this preliminary awareness building conference will introduce the wider community to the meaning and importance of knowledge society, enhance workshops and conferences and finally in the long run such initiatives will help knowledge workers to come together and maximize their leverage for the creation of knowledge society in Eritrea.

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