Development Communication Handout Reading Two

1
st
semester; A.Y. 2008-2009
Page 1 of 4
Where is Development?
Sure, we have advanced in terms of technology. So much development
had taken place in the last two decades, especially in the field of communication
and the mass media. What used to be mammoth computers can now be held in
our palms. We can now see our dear beloved relatives abroad talk to us as if
we’re both in one room. We have become, aptly called, a global village. The
different parts of the world are within reach and a click away. We now even have
linkages with people we haven’t even seen. Technology, in the field of
communication, have become far advanced that we change cell phone units as
often as we pay our electric bills. Media technology is so fast that we can
produce thousands of newspapers in an hour’s time and even distribute them in
a flash.
But the question is, with all these advancements in technology in almost
every field of endeavor, have we really achieved development?
While it is a fact that we have really reached so much in the field of
communication and information, these were not enough to change existing
conditions of the people in a community. While we can say that many are
technologically-equipped, those who learn these skills are still those who can
afford the cost of education. In the end, the information rich become richer, and
the information poor become poorer. The so-called digital divide becomes more
apparent. And the more pressing societal problems remain unaddressed and
unresolved.
Why?
Development endeavors are not sustained. While there are many
government and non-government organizations, and even private individuals
which continuously try to promote development in communities, the lack of
proper, adequate and relevant implementation sometimes make development
endeavors seem like a flash of lightning. Sustainable and participatory programs
are still not fully realizable in communities. Let me give one example. As part of
the academe, we are tasked to do four things – instruction, research, extension
and production. And fortunately or unfortunately, I really do not know, I was
Development Communication Handout Reading Two
1
st
semester; A.Y. 2008-2009
Page 2 of 4
assigned to work in the extension office. (Do not get me wrong, I love extension
work, but I’m such a cry-baby that I easily get affected by tales of woes, that’s
why I said unfortunately.) Last year, we initiated a waste management campaign
in one of the communities here with the help of the barangay officials and some
of my students. The community organized a task force and promised that they
will do their best to make the project sustainable. One year after the project
launch, the only evidence of the program is a line in the barangay budget for the
purchase of a multi-cab which will be used to collect wastes. The project failed in
its first year.
There are no clear policies. Perhaps this is the reason why our project
failed. Perhaps we are partly to be blamed. We were so confident that the
community can do it by themselves without clear cut guidelines both from our
end and from the task force assigned to initiate it. Although there are laws that
support the program, there was no clear dissemination of these information. The
people were not positively mobilized so that they will feel that the project is
important to them. When we had the monitoring among the people of the
community, they said the project was not successful because the people do not
care. If that is the case, then perhaps it’s because we have neglected to inculcate
to the people the value and relevance of the project in their life. We are not
successful not just in terms of the physical then, but we also failed in taking into
account that societal problems are multi-faceted and complex. And that they
cannot be solved just by merely creating a task force and by buying a multi-cab.
Budget for programs mysteriously disappear. Harry Houdini might be
the finance manager of many a development program. Okay, so this is not really
part of the discussion in the course material. But I remember this being
discussed in the first face to face session and I remember being dumbfounded –
$.60 goes to the pockets of the “leader” while only $.40 is used as an aid. This
struck me so much I remember repeating this in class and stressing to my
students to have mercy on all those people who will have nothing to use because
we have pocketed the bigger part of what is supposed to be for them. Also, one
of the entries in my scrapbook says something about corruption as still the
Development Communication Handout Reading Two
1
st
semester; A.Y. 2008-2009
Page 3 of 4
biggest bane to Southeast Asian growth. “We need to stop tiptoeing around this
issue, it is too important.” (Martin Sullivan, CEO, AIG, Inc.) So, in my point of
view, the matter of funding is still of prime importance to make a program work. If
funding is lacking, and the people lose their trust on the people who are
supposed to help them in their development, a project will more likely fail.
Projects are not participatory. When we had our accreditation a week
ago, one of the points in the instrument for evaluation is on whether the projects
promote participation from the people in the community. I believe this is indeed
essential as no project will succeed, no matter how excited and hardworking the
program implementers are, if the people for whom the project is launched in the
first place, will not cooperate and participate. And participation should start from
as early as the needs assessment stage until the evaluation part.
Stakeholders are not properly tapped to give a hand in the programs.
Aside from the people in the community, programs should be able to identify key
stakeholders who can help in the programs for development. These stakeholders
can also aid the development workers and the community in the policy making
agenda. Thus, it is essential that we tap linkages and stakeholders and admit
that we cannot be superheroes who will take on everything in the work of
development.
Some development workers are development workers Category A.
For these people, development concerns are business dealings where one can
make a kill for profit. They are the people who are masquerading as
missionaries, but who are actually packs of wolves out to devour unsuspecting
victims. Sad, but true. I just wish that there will be more Category C development
workers.
Undermining the importance of communication and information
dissemination in development work. One of my colleagues in communication
overheard this in a jeepney, “Nag shift daw sa communication. Bakit kaya dun eh
hindi na naman un dapat pag aralan dahil lage naming ginagawa un” I think that
is one of the most common misconceptions when it comes to the value of
communication. Others think that it’s nothing compared to courses in nursing or
Development Communication Handout Reading Two
1
st
semester; A.Y. 2008-2009
Page 4 of 4
accountancy or engineering. There is no development in communication. But we
know otherwise. We know the value of proper utilization of communication even
in daily living. I personally believe that it makes a big difference. But not just any
communication will do especially for development work. Proper and careful
planning are musts. And never underestimate the power of communication for we
have seen how it has change the course of nations.
Clinging to myths about technology being equal to development.
Myths are indeed untrue that’s why they are considered to be under fiction. Not
because a community has access to technology that spells development already.
As I have mentioned at the start of this reaction paper, and what the book said,
we now have so much advancement in technology, but how come we still also
have so much poverty, and malnutrition and illiteracy and unemployment? We
are back to square one. Why?
I really do not have the answers. What I have mentioned are opinions that
I hold. And I will not argue that these are the only rights.
True, we also need to incorporate these ideas into our education
curriculum, especially for those taking up communication, for they can do a world
of difference in the area of development. And that we must take it in a proactive
stance because a reactive stance makes people defensive. What we want is to
get to the bottom of things, to uproot seeds of social ills which have become so
imbedded in our national psyche. And we can only do this in a spirit of openness,
trust, generosity and preparedness. All these are possible only in a proactive way
of making an impact for development.
I still share with Sir Sandy, my professor in my masters program, the
scenario that he had created – well-being for everyone.
But until that time comes, I will continue to work in best way that I can,
using the tools available to me, despite challenges and possible pains. After all,
there was a Cathy who did these things, too. And as what I’m always wont to say
when my students ask me why I stay when I’m paid little, “those who want to
give light must endure the pain of burning.”
(Paper written for the course DEVC202, under the program Master of Development Communication)

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