Cyberwarfare and Education
There has been an increased relevance and awareness of the adage “knowledge is power”. This became more real for the ordinary man when knowledge is not only power but also equates to economic and political advantage.
The increasing incidence of cyber attacks everywhere is indicative of how technology has ingrained itself into our systems and life. Every actor on the field have their own agenda and interest, most of which are devoid of Christian values. Most cyber attacks are done to gather information, to gain control of infrastructure, to disrupt legitimate operations among others.
The Salesian educator is at a loss in front of these realities. The ordinary educator does not have the background and training to take on these realities. There is a need then for educators to upskill themselves in order to understand the current climate of the world, both offline and online. It is understandable that some educators are aversive to these new realities, but the nature of technological disruptions is just that – it disrupts the normal and gives rise to a ‘new normal’. If education and educators cannot catch up, then we too fail in our mission.
This is important since the young people that we educate are themselves more adept at adjusting to and evolving with technology. It is also wrong to assume that educators should run the pace with them. Rather, education has to find universal, unchanging values that can guide the new generation in navigating the ever evolving world. I believe the task of educating is not only in imparting knowledge but above all imparting the spirit, culture, and values that we believe in.
I do feel that the field of Salesian education is a sitting duck in the midst of cyberwarfare. Most of our schools are ill equipped with the proper technology, IT teams, and technologically skilled lay mission partners. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic hastened the integration of technology in our ministry and we are just playing catching up right now. We are not yet looking into how we can transform the content of our education to be at par with the vicissitudes, how to reinvent our identity to be relevant in a changing culture, how to translate our values so that they are understood and lived in today’s context, and much less how to protect ourselves and our institutions in the midst of malevolent actors online.
The physical world already sees some change yet the change is greater in the cyberworld. Salesian educators must find inspiration in how St. John Bosco recognized change in his times, rode its wave, and even went ahead of it. I guess the cyberwarfare I am referring to is not just the wrestling of control of information and technology but also how the clash of values have found its way online, and may I add, how our spiritual battle also is fought online. Afterall, cyberwarfare also involves influencing human minds and hearts.
The task is great before us. We appear to be disadvantaged. Yet I firmly believe in the power of Divine Providence that has always guided our work and our communities through changes and pulled us through.
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