n South African Computer Journal - Addressing the vulnerability of children through information systems : a South African case study : reviewed article




The adoption of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in developing countries often comes with the argument of how the technology will assist in bridging the 'digital divide'. This paper argues1 that often ICTs fail to realise their potential due to the overly technical focus of the information systems design process. A case study from South Africa illustrates how the design of an information system, which takes the social situation into account, can address exclusion. Using an interpretive participatory action research approach a community-based information system was designed, in one municipality in South Africa, to address the vulnerability of children. The revised information system is primarily a paper and oral based system, but links with the formal health facility information systems at higher levels. Thus, though ICTs were not directly used in the design of the information system due to the nature of the particular context, the need to connect with the higher levels of the computerised health information system was recognised. The case study illustrates the importance of designing information systems which are culturally and technologically appropriate and through this process attempts to address the exclusion of certain members of society from the health system.


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