Advancement in science and technology since the industrial revolution has led to serious exploitation of man by man. Science and Technology has shrunk the world both in time and space. In turn, this has brought the world into a state of perpetual conflict as a result of the apparent underdevelopment of some parts of the world by others. Proponents of the dependency theory like Tha as (1972:22), attribute the widening gap between the developed world (the North) and the underdeveloped world (the South/third world) to science and technology.
Yet, it is this very science and technology, which is looked onto to deliver the third world from the claws of underdevelopment and to bridge the developmental gap. According to Onimode (1988), it is this same science and technology to help bring about a just and equitable New International World Order. It is therefo re, incumbent upon the third world to have a clear conception, understanding and masterly of science and technology. Science and technology is not only a tool for national development, it is one~the main locomotive engines for Third World development. Yet, it is the same science and technology, which is increasingly being used to dominate and exploit the third world.
WHAT IS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY?
There is no simple and universal definition of science and technology, but the easiest way to understand these two concepts is; while science gives man a logical conceptual framework of his physical and social world, technology equips man with the tools, knowledge, skills, techniques and attitudes of mind with which to respond to the challenges of the world.
According to Elliot and Elliot (1976:2) science is mainly concerned with understanding natural phenomena and creating conceptual frameworks for its explanation. This is not any different from The Own Encyclopaedia definition of science as the knowledge of things, their constitution, operations and the skills of rightly and logically organizing these things. The practical manifestation of science is in tools, equipment and know-how, which can best be described as technology (Microsoft Encarta 1994).
It is this technology which Karl Marx described as "that which discloses man's mode of dealing with nature, the process of production by which he sustains his life and thereby lays bare the mode of formation of his social relations and mental conceptions that flow from them" (Elliot and Elliot 1976:1). Karl Marx's description is not short of telling us that technology is man's daily companion. It is the one he is in constant contact with either in its disembodied form - knowledge and skills or embodied form - machines and equipment. In a nutshell, technology provides man with the life support systems that maintain him on the planet earth.
There is therefore, a growing need for the Third World to demystify science and technology. To come to an understanding that science and technology are day to day things that deliver the food we eat on our tables, make the beds we sleep in, build the houses we live in, makes the clothes we wear, transports us daily, has prov ided the seats we are using and organizes our daily lives.
We have to come to an understanding with Bhagavan (1990:3), who says technology is everything - equipment, knowledge including information about information, all kinds of skills and processes and products plus institutional and organizational know-how. Science and technology should be at the disposal of man to help him conceptualize his world and fashion out tools and means by which he goes about his daily life and satisfies his basic needs.
The problem with the third world, Uganda included, is that it has failed to master science and technology. Science and technology instead of providing for man, has been used as a tool of domination and exploitation. This is why people are asking whether science and technology can be a tool of national development in the third world. The answer is a straight forward yes but the third world has to solve its S&T problems
THIRD WORLD SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY PROBLEMS
The third world has failed to adopt a correct scientific analysis of itself vis a vis the developed world. Thus, it has failed to procure, synthesize, and adopt/internalize correct technology that will firmly put it on the road to development. Treading on this road requires being armed with the correct science and technology. The third world road to development is littered with a lot of problems arising from;
1. TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM, which has led to a strong conviction that imports of state of the art advanced technology, will lead to development. The third world has to stop thinking and imagining that technology is the primary cause of fundamental social change, so as to determine the pattern and fabric of development. This has led the third world to import assemblages of technological artifacts with no relevancy to the society.
The third world should know that technology can not impose itself on society. Society must fashion and shape its own technology. Any imports have to be understood, accepted, internalized and adopted by the society. Technology must also accomplish social needs and not those of individuals. That is why most of the technology in the third world is parasitic. It does not produce for third world people. It is also run and maintained by another world. The third world has a duty to start procuring, generating, synthesizing and nurturing technologies tailored to the service of its community.
What is happening in the third world is that technology is imposing and asserting its nature on the community. And the worst part off it is that this technology is foreign. There is a one to one correspondence between patterns of technological organization and patterns of social organization and in the case of a third world country like Uganda, the relationship is that of dominance and exploitation. It is therefore, imperative that the third world immediately starts to generate, synthesize, and unpacking technologies to serve its own needs. The third world has failed to enjoy the benefits of modern technology developed by the North because it is not its own and therefore unsuitable, expensive - exploitative and out of place.
2.TECHNOLOGY IS A COMMERCIAL COMMODITY and the third world has to stop thinking that will be given freely. It is therefore not surprising that despite more than 500 hundred year of contact between the South and the North the South is basically a raw material producer and consumer of the North's manufactures. It is a historical truth that capitalism transformed itself into imperialism in a search for markets and cheap raw materials. The consequential colonialism was not an accident. Colonialism was imperialism's policeman and protector. While colonialism made a tactical retreat, imperialism became bolder and devised even better methods of exploitation. The amount of money the South spens on imports from the North is enormous. Besides,the South hosts and pays a large group of technical experts. The South also pays out large sums of money in technology patents and royalties. These are major conduits through which resources from the South enrich the North. If the south is to benefit from technology,it has to block this hemorrhage. Steps to indegenize technology are necessary
3.RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT is something the third world has not come to grips with. The third world has not set aside fiscal and human resources for research and development in science and technology. While Rodney (1972) is correct when he argues that the North was able to research and develop superior levels of science and technology using resources it pillage looted and plundered from the South,the South has got to stop lamenting about this all the time.
It is time for the third world to start taking stock of its own and begin to adopt inward looking eceonomic measures that will release resources to the causes of research and development in science and technology.
Samir (1982) calls upon the third world to stop transplanting fragments of production processes without an intergrated inter-link. These disintegrated economies are the ones that give the North an edge over the South by ensuring that all essential spares, raw material inputs, transport and the entire service industry are controlled by multinational corporations from the North. These production processes are designed as conduits for capital flight from the South to the North. In this way, the South will never have surplus resources to set up research and development facilities in science and technology.
Besides this economic domination goes hand in hand with cultural domination. It has been argued that cultural values and notions are a crucial ingredient in developing and exploring new technologies (Elliot and Elliot 1972:10). The South has been dominated by the North to the point of receiving only pre-digested and regurgitated technology from the North.
Education, the most important instrument of scientific and technological emancipation, has been distorted to the extent that .third world citizens deny their nationalities and culture. The North no longer has to come to the South to hunt for slaves, the educated sons and daughters of the third world now willingly do export themselves into slavery in search of "kyeyo".
On the Law Books of third world countries like Uganda, it is still a crime to drink locally brewed waragi. It is an offence to craft a gun and yet billions are spent annually on gun imports. This problem can only be tackled through a psychological orientation of;
4. THE ELITE, who are the main stumbling block in research and development of technologies geared to the service of third world societies. Dickson (1994) observes that the technology possessed and developed by society is the objective manifestation or crystallization of the power relations within that society. The ideological orientation of the third world elite acts in concert with the objectives of the capitalist North. That is why, the third world elite spends millions of dollars on importation of armament to put down internal strife/rebellion and conflict within third world states themselves.
This money could be redirected to research and development in technology. The third world people are tired of this class of people exploiting them in concert with international capitalism. Everywhere you go in Africa, there is war. It is a sign that the old guard must go. But, the near guard will have to come up with a science and technology policy that will free the third world from international capitalism camouflaged in SAPS, NEPAD (New Partnership for African Development, Canttonou, and AGOA
The main problem with the third world has been its failure to come to grips with the knowledge that technology is power. Power exercised in the name and interest of the economic, political, and social groups that stand to benefit from it. This is why it has been turned into an ideological weapon of domination by the global capitalist networks and their local comprador. Thus, many decisions affecting third world people are being taken by a new priesthood of technical advisers, who have come to own and control science and technology through multinational corporations.
The solution to this technological impasse is that the third world must adopt a dynamic and radical perspective of science and technology. This must involve uprooting the political foundations of third world communities. Only then can science and technology become a tool of justice and equity. It will then utornatically transform itself into a locomotive force and engine for the socia l economic development of third world peoples. That development must cater for the basic needs of the third world.
Only then one talk about science and technology as a tool of development in the third world
Walubo Jude Tadeo
Makerere University Kampala
BA - Education