Social Enterprise – Part 8

Presented by: Center for Balanced Development

 

Focus: Information & Education

 

Conceptual Framework:

 

History and Background

The history of civilization is a testimony to the constant search for information and progress has always been in direct proportion to the amount of information available at that time to that specific region. We read about the history of early civilizations, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Persians, the Romans and all other great cultures were able to create and rule empires that were the cradle of development, creativity  and innovation and where great rulers, philosophers, artists and scientists became historical icons and figures. However, looking at the scope of development, we see that ancient cultures had limited access to information. It is also interesting to note that very few had access to information and education in the ancient times.    

 

Present Status & Needs

With advances being made in technology, the amount of information available to masses has increased tremendously. Print, radio and television have brought an incredible amount of information to us. However, the advent of the internet has opened up the flood-gates of information where a child has access to more information than what was available to the most learned only a century ago. With the massive amount of information we are finding that a new kind of education process is taking shape where the students are the passive recipients of all kinds of representations including mentally, emotionally and socially destructive information in the form of entertainment and games. It is interesting that what we teach in our homes and schools in terms of values and virtues and what we wish for the our family and youth run counter-culture to what the popular media promotes. Here, we seem to have decided to call some information as education and some as entertainment. Therefore, the need for access to useful information and social – economic education is great. The social entrepreneurs who choose to take on the task of promoting information and education will be highly regarded and greatly rewarded no matter where and in what part of the world the initiative is focused on.      

 

Future Outlook

In the coming years, as more information becomes available and more people have access to larger pools of information considering the political, cultural and language factors, we are going to become more educated and more selective in terms of our paths of development, field of study, type of work, sources of food, habitat and living conditions. Furthermore, with more access to information and deeper understanding, we are also bound to become more aware and accepting of other cultures, beliefs and mindsets.

 

 

Application for Social Enterprise Focused on Information & Education:

 

Information Technology

With the massive amounts of information available, researching specific information for various applications in identifying social and economic trends, development patterns, climate change, ecological statistics and just about any kind of information can be researched and published. As a social enterprise, there are numerous possibilities for managing initiatives, finding support and building networks for projects and programs utilizing the information that is readily available on the internet. The critical part, however, is to identify a social need at the local or regional level and develop an enterprise that is economical and ecological.

Looking at the trends over last two decades, the number of internet users around the world is increasing at a very fast rate. According to statistics in 2011 there were over 2.4 billion users of internet worldwide.   IT tutoring in terms of learning the basics of using a computer , the internet, E-mail and many of the popular websites like FACEBOOK and TWITTER can be a great social enterprise.       

Website design and administration is another area of possible focus for social entrepreneurs. Helping people to build a website or administering their website for a small fee are among the many ways that the social entrepreneurs can prosper and grow their operation in the IT field. 

The scope of IT applications, obviously, is incredibly vast and every day we see new technologies and applications. One area of fast growth is the mobile phone applications which can be downloaded for free or a minimal charge. Thousands of applications have been developed and lots of application designers have emerged in this lucrative field.

The advent of tablet pc and iPAD has also opened another direction for innovations and development of applications.

However, there is need for content to address the social, economic and ecological issues. Globally, we are faced with an ever-increasing violence, conflicts, contentions, unemployment, disease, homelessness, poverty, pollution and a host of other issues. Information technology can play a great role in educating the masses, empowering individuals and providing solutions in properly utilizing our human and natural resources globally. In this process, social enterprise is a step in the right direction.          

 

Education

Education is an absolute necessity for human development and the advancement of civilization. The need for education is universal and it is a must for all women and men alike. Of course, we are all constantly learning through observation and association but the need for formal and systematic development of human character, creativity, knowledge and skills is a task that requires the efforts of teachers, parents and the community. Here, social enterprise plays an important role in the process of education. There are tremendous need for education worldwide and there are endless applications. From traditional classroom tools and books to internet websites and audio-visual materials there are numerous application for the social entrepreneur.

 

High on the list of education, is the need for character development and the practice of human virtues and the nurturing of the higher nature. This is an area with great potential as the foundation of success and human progress depends on the refinement of character and the ability to connect with society.

Here, the role of the teachers, the family and community is critical. The teachers can foster the development of character and the family offers an environment where the learning and virtues can be practiced and mastered. Meanwhile, the community can actively support the process of character development through examples and civilized behavior. The media and internet, in this process, plays huge role as It can be a very effective supportive tool through careful, informative, enlightening, educational and creative programming.               

 

Arts and sciences are at the core of education and traditionally have been the main area of focus of lower and higher level education and programs. Here, a social enterprise can focus on the creation, production and promotion of arts that are enlightening, empowering and harmonizing in terms of its impact on the social, economic and ecological landscape. Likewise, in science and technology we need to analyze and study the short and long-term impact of the inventions, discoveries and innovations on the social-economic and ecological balance in the process of development. Clearly, when it comes to products and services, the traditional supply-demand model is very simplistic and inadequate method of addressing the various aspects of development where the social stability, economic efficiency and ecological health are not truly represented in setting the value of goods and services.   

Here, social enterprise can truly open up the possibilities  towards a more comprehensive set of values that would pave the way for a better and true representation of balance in the development process.

   

Health education, having a better awareness of our habitat and proper utilization of our natural resources are the other area that much needs to be done in terms of mass education or even a rudimentary knowledge in the light of the ever-expanding consumption trends that has been the primary focus of most of the world population and regions. Here, health education and the choices for nutrition, the need for physical activities and adequate rest are worthy of great attention as we experience global health crisis worldwide. Contributing to the health crisis is our habitat and high levels of pollution and waste that is reaching catastrophic levels and causing climate change which in turn unleashes a host of natural disasters including hurricanes, storms, floods, draught, wildfires, earthquakes and tsunamis with increasing intensity and frequency. Furthermore, the utilization and protection of our natural resources is in need of a proper global management system and organization. All and all, the social entrepreneur of today is faced with great challenges that can be addressed gradually and systematically as more and more creativity and innovation is used to initiate solutions at the grassroots and as social enterprise inspires the young generation to incorporate new applications focused on informing and educating the masses.        

 

Implications of a Social Enterprise Focused on Information & Education:

 

Social

Information brings us closer together and education is necessary to understand our social reality as a global community. The quality of our association as members of society depends on the information and the education we receive. It can become the cause of apathy and conflict or it can act the bridge of understanding and mutual respect. Today, we receive lots of information through the media and internet and depending on where we live, the information gives a perspective that represents a local or a group mindset. The same is also true for education. Depending on the region, the education can be biased towards a cultural or belief system. Often, this kind of information and education can lead to misunderstanding and alienation among various communities or nations. A social enterprise focused on information and education, can be a guiding light in clearing up misguided thoughts and help us to focus on the potential of information and education and that is our ability to connect and work together in a harmonious global community.          

 

Economic

Information drives the global market. Investors are always in search of information that would help them choose a certain stock or option. Market fluctuations and reactions is also often based on information released by economic reports and political news. The other side of picture is consumer information and the search of lower prices. We are also educated as workers, investors and consumers to make, save or spend money in our aspirations for a better life. In brief, in the world of supply and demand, information and education is the key to investing, spending, saving and creating wealth. However, a social enterprise can offer a fresh perspective that goes beyond mere supply and demand, It can explore economic opportunities that offer efficiency in terms of the usage of resources and that is socially sensitive and considers the impact of the project on the community as well as the ecological implications. Here, the ability of a social enterprise to offer information and education is truly unique and offers a new paradigm.

 

Ecological

There is already a lot of information available in regard to the fragile state of our global ecology and the need for action. Our education system also offers programs and specialties in the environmental science and engineering. Although we have made great progress in becoming aware of our ecological crisis, but the rate of global production and consumption and the amount of pollution and waste is truly astronomical.

There is an absolute need for much greater action to slow down the current trends and to take steps in creating social enterprises that can initiate programs and projects to stabilize the ecology and address the need for balance.  

 

In conclusion, information and education are the starting point for action. Much has been achieved throughout the history of civilization and we have come a long way. However, the time has come for us to take the next step – a more comprehensive and global model of prosperity that is based on the relation and balance between social, economic and ecological aspects of development and progress. Future generations, needless to say, will immensely benefit from the initiatives of today’s visionaries and social entrepreneurs.   

 

For more information, please contact: info@cbdus.org