In the recent internet shutdown in the country, many businesses have lost their clients, partners, incomes and, for some, their futures. It was reported in this newspaper that a businessperson’s partners have moved to Dubai because there was no internet – what a shame. This has created frustrations on businesses in the country, writes Brook Abdu.
This country and its government are always obsessed with firefighting than taking precautionary measures before things reach devastating stages. Many instances can be mentioned ranging from the handling of protests to the current shutdown of internet service to create a “safe and conducive environment” for the national exam sitters, an environment which has never existed in this country.
Most of the actions taken by the government during the state of emergency are criticized for being actions of firefighting meant to maintain it from spreading to other regions of the country and to minimize the damages that could have been devastating.
Whatever the results of the measures taken turn out to be, the effects of the absence of internet connectivity during the period of the uprising were imminent on businesses which also translate to have an effect on the government’s income.
In this day and age, no work can be done without having internet connectivity and it has become a lifeline of many businesses worldwide; disabling internet access is a reckless measure a government could take.
In this country, where internet access is in the “Not Free” zone, according to Freedom House, and internet literacy is at its infancy, with only 11 percent of the hundred million population using the World Wide Web, cutting internet connectivity as a solution to suppress any possible disruption to the smooth flow of life in the country shows the limitation that the country has in having control over the infrastructure in its hands systematically. This is a childish game.
Some people in this country even refer to the internet as Facebook, which is laughable. This shows the level of internet literacy in this country.
The government has no right to deny its citizens of their rights to use the technology the world of innovation provided them. The frequent cut of internet in the country whenever there is any suspected misuse of the infrastructure shows the level of our democracy and the system we are building.
This is one of the reasons that the government strongly refutes the argument to privatize the sector; which multinational company would compromise its business and shutdown the internet?
Cheating during exams has never been a new thing in this country and the solution is not at the end of the line but at the start of the line. In fact, technology has to support the country’s educational as well as examinational systems. Sometimes, students cheat in an organized manner.
Other than taking firefighting actions, the government has to take precautionary measures to make the system more reliable and free of any corrupt activities. Who is collaborating in cheating? It is the teachers, the directors, the students and high-level officials.
The background of what created this has to be studied well. When I was a teacher a while back, schools are evaluated regionally and at zonal levels by the number of students who passed from grade to grade and scored better results in exams.
This created competition among schools which eventually led to incorrect measures that were taken by schools to make their students pass. Anyone can visit a private or a public school and no student, regardless of his or her ability, repeats a grade. Rather than working on the students to get additional education to improve their knowledge and sit for exams, re-exams are administered and students are forced to pass the grades in which they knew almost nothing. This has to change first.
If the government can work on the minds of the students and if they believe that they are fit to sit for exams, they definitely turn deaf ears to any temptation of cheating. Otherwise, the government will always struggle with technology.
No one wins such a struggle – even in a country of less internet literacy. When social media was closed, people started using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to bypass the protection the government placed. People always manage to find was to bypass blockades – it is a common human nature. It was the internet blockage in the country that made many have the knowledge VPNs. Lots of people did not know what they were let alone use them. Now everyone has at least Psiphon on his/her device and some have the likes of hotspot shield and other add-ons. Who won the struggle then?
In the recent internet shutdown in the country, many businesses have lost their clients, partners, incomes and, for some, their futures. It was reported in this newspaper that a businessperson’s partners have moved to Dubai because there was no internet – what a shame. This has created frustrations on businesses in the country.
Which investor is going to come to this country in this context? Everyone’s market is dependent on connectivity.
At this time, when international companies like Facebook are struggling with such suppressions of internet access, every nation should be part of the struggle to expand access to the internet and respect the rights of the citizens to use the technology the world provided it with. Governments do not have to play against this concerted effort to make internet access the right of everyone on the planet.
Now, cutting the internet seems to have become customary and I fear this might become a normality which citizens take as the right thing for the government to do. This has to be changed. It is the government that loses out of such moves – banks do not operate remittances and SWIFT transfers, no imports and exports are conducted, investors cannot get information and businesses cannot conduct their activities smoothly. This means the government does not have revenue to generate from the economy.
Hence, changing the system the state structure operates in has to be changed than resorting to firefighting actions. Discussing with the society and improving what has to be improved prevents public uprisings which resulted in past internet cuts. Improving the system in which the exams are administered and scrutinizing the education system, as well as working on students will prevent cheating during exams.
Enough suffering had been experienced so far and this does not have to be repeated. No one has to cry again. There should be a reliable state structure which the people trust.
Ed.’s Note: Brook Abdu is social media and online curator at Media and Communications Center. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Reporter. He can be reached at [email protected]