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Guest Blog: Dr Alastair Allan MSP’s Turing Talk

Dr Allan’s talk left me feeling enthusiastic and optimistic about Scotland’s commitment to international development in less developed regions in the world. With examples from Malawi, I learned that despite being a small nation in a world scale, Scotland is leading the way in development, particularly with the use of technology.

What I found most interesting about the talk was Scotland’s 154 year special relationship with Malawi and the fact that £10 million per annum is dedicated to the International Development Fund which promotes growth and prosperity in less industrialised countries. The unwavering commitment of the Scottish government to tackle poverty can be seen by the new Dynamic International Strategy which launched last year and seeks to achieve the UN’s Global Goals. The four priorities of the Government’s development work – to encourage relationships with less developed countries, to empower partner countries to increase their capacity for development, to take leadership in tackling poverty at home and over seas, and to include all Scottish people in the process – seem like a comprehensive set of steps that will be beneficial for vulnerable people both here in Scotland and globally.

Talk of technologies such as radios being used to communicate between hospitals in rural areas in developing countries, the use of interactive educational iPad apps for 100,000 school children in Malawi, and The Turing Trust’s own project – the construction of a solar computer classroom – gave me a sense of hope for the potential of technology to make peoples lives significantly easier and, subsequently, happier. I guess the most impactful part of Alastair’s talk was his emphasis on the importance of being aware of the specific contexts in which technological development takes place. He states we must always use appropriate technologies and that what this means may vary from place to place. For instance, while gifting a school in Scotland with laptops would be immensely helpful for the pupil’s education, a school in Malawi that does not have access to the internet or constant electricity may not find this gift at all rewarding. We must also provide accurate training and ensure that technologies are cost-effective and maintainable for the communities that they are placed in.

This talk left me feeling hopeful for the potential of technology to make the world a better place and for the ability of Scotland to be the global pioneer that will make this happen.

A playlist of all of the talks is available.

This post was written by our Social Media intern, Kara Weekes.

Video: Heehaw

Photo by Mackie Photography