n Journal of Public Administration - The viability of electronic learning as a training strategy in the Eastern Cape : a case study of the office of the premier




The world is experiencing a major technological revolution and there is a new economy unleashing productivity and creating prosperity, but in a very uneven pattern. Knowledge and information are the keys to productivity and connectivity is the key to global competitiveness. Development in the information society is, above all, the development of capacity to process knowledge-based information efficiently and to apply it to production and to the enhancement of the quality of life. Under the informational paradigm, two key factors of production are necessary, namely information processing and communication infrastructure, and human resources equipped to use it. The Internet is the most direct and fundamental expression of both infrastructure and human resources and the new economy is therefore essentially mind-based (Castells, in Muller, Cloete & Badat, 2001: 159).

The key to using the Internet for developmental purposes is people's capacity to find the appropriate information, to analyse it, and focus it on whatever task they want to perform or need to be satisfied. This ultimately implies education for everybody and the expansion of education in quantity and quality is thus a precondition for information development. In this context, adult education and online or electronic learning are critical to incorporate the whole population into the new techno-cultural system, to avoid deepening the current age division. Furthermore, to facilitate electronic government initiatives, public servants need to be educated and trained. This requires large investment in human resources. An info-development model in developing nations is thus based on on-line work, online service delivery, and on-line learning all linked to local economies and local communities (Castells, in Muller et al, 2001: 161-162). This requires that priority be given to investments in human resources and the new economy calls for an education system that is attuned to the needs of organisations, sufficiently flexible to adapt to changing demands, and encourages lifelong learning.


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