Creating a Culture of Innovation
Windhoek – Many initiatives have been put forward for the promotion and maintenance of innovation in Africa. Policies to protect inventors, rewards, the setting up entrepreneurship training programs are just a few of the various forms of support.
Although the appropriate conditions for innovations are to some extent present, innovation has not become a way of life or a culture. Unfortunately this way of life is only being lived out by a select few, particularly for those who purposefully and intentionally invent or those whose jobs are based on research and innovation.
While such a culture might not be for everyone, it should be a phase that every individual passes through in order to instill that gene of desiring to create new ways of doing business.
One way of ensuring that the majority of people pass through such a phase is by bringing innovation into the public educational systems, which up to date has not been even considered seriously.
Although there has been much talk about the need for innovation in Africa, there have also been very few countries that have set up Departments that are mandated to promote innovation, particularly in the public education sector.
As such, one of the major steps would be to set up effective process to manage the promotion of innovation.
Introducing culture of innovation within the public education system will not only bring about innovation but also an assurance that the ordinary people, who are many at times the ones who come up with innovation and inventions, give value and efforts into their innovations.
With almost every child having the opportunity to go through secondary school, there is also an assurance that almost every child has the opportunity or is exposed to some form of innovation or inventions.
One of the ways of introducing and maintaining such culture of in the public education sector is by having innovation practical subjects.
While children are only taught existing inventions and are expected to replicate what already is, they are not given the opportunity to create their own inventions.
Instead of waiting for children to start working on inventions or innovative ideas when they grow up, they should be given such opportunities while they are still young and in their home countries.
Not only will this bring about new ideas, it will develop a desire amongst individual pupils to develop new effects for Africa.
Taking such steps will also lay the ground for innovation and invention competitions at local level. Since public schools are placed in schools, bringing the idea of innovation in the public education system will likely bring about local solutions to local problems.
While it is innovation that brought about new technologies, technologies are also responsible for bringing about new innovation.
The use of new technologies such as computers is no doubt an important factor at exposing pupils to more knowledge and innovative ideas.
Pupils, through the use of new technologies are able to gain more knowledge and Understanding thus enabling them with the knowledge to come up with new innovation.
With the internet reducing space and time, student are able to see how other students in different parts of the world are becoming innovative and thus become innovative by impartation and association.
While it is important for students to associate with other inventors from other countries via the Internet, it is also important for them to associate with local innovators and inventors within their own countries.
This can be done by the mandated departments organizing symposiums in schools solely for the purpose of encouraging innovation and inventions.
Carrying-out such symposiums will most likely raise an awareness of the importance of innovation amongst pupils.
Once individuals have been introduced to innovation or pass through that phase, it is important to maintain this awareness and desire of innovation and invention. One of the ways of achieving this is through the use of media. Although there are segments in the media that are dedicated to exposing and promoting innovation and inventions, most of them are either inaccessible or are in bits and pieces that can easily be forgotten.
For example, the ordinary man, might not be able to watch programs such as “how we invent” a program that shows how inventions came about on DSTV.
Programs that promote innovation and can be accessed by everyone should therefore be made available and accessible.