Activity 9


Four words: I have no idea.

Several months ago, that was how I responded to people asking me what development communication is. Of course, I had some things in my mind. Sometimes, I would answer half-heartedly – I think it involves the use of communication to contribute in the development of the country and of the people.

But what kind of communication? What kind of contribution? What kind of development?

Again, I have no idea.

Four months into my first semester as a graduate student of development communication, I have started to form an understanding of what development communication really is. But I have yet to fully grasp the concept.

While I can give you different definitions of development communication, both stated in the book Introduction to Development Communication (Ongkiko & Flor, 2003) and the various online resources that I accessed in the past months, I still have a lot to learn.

For instance, the questions from the critics (as stated in the introduction of our book’s Chapter 10) still linger on my mind – Is development communication really a separate academic discipline? What it its contribution to the existing body of scientific knowledge?

The fact that it exists, and continues to prosper, justifies its legitimacy as a separate academic discipline. But some questions keep popping on my mind: Where are the older generation of development communication practitioners? What were their contributions to the struggle to achieve the development that we all aspire?

I agree that the definition of Quebral (1976), development communication is communication for planned change, is an elegant definition of what the discipline is.

It summarizes the her longer definition, the art and science of human communication applied to the speedy transformation of a country and the mass of its people from poverty to a dynamic state of economic growth that makes possible greater social equality and the larger fulfilment of human potential, that stated in the book.

Of all the discussions on the development communication that was tackled in the book, one word has caught my attention: catalyst.

This, I believe, is the heart of development communication – the use of communication as a catalyst to achieve social change, to achieve development.

Development communication, as stated by Quebral, is the communication for planned social change (emphasis supplied) because development communication practitioners do not rely on coincidences and confluence of events to achieve their objectives. Rather, they follow the scientific process in developing and implementing a plan that could contribute to the much needed social change.

So what if someone asks me now what development communication is?

I go back to my original idea: The use of communication to contribute in the development of the country and of the people.

But I say not the same as before. Because, indeed, development communication is the use of communication to contribute in the development of the country and of the people.


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