The Educational Opportunities of Elearning For Children in Developing Countries Illustration by Andrew Lyons
In a world where everyone is connected to everyone, the way education is given changed. Children from a young age adopt naturally, new (connected) tools to learn and develop themselves. It gives them access to knowledge and innovation. But not all of them have access to the innovation that the digital brought us.
Universities in the strict term definition are nowadays, adapted to the digital world live in. Famous universities such as Harvard university, are experimenting with eLearning. Circa 36.000 students from Harvard University are enrolled in one of its online course. But even though the biggest universities in the world are highly connected, unfortunately, in developing countries, schools are not equally linked to the digital.
Information and communication technologies (ICT) are the new tools to learn. These provide information and opportunities for children and young people to express ideas and connect with other people all over the world.
Undoubtedly, digital devices for children in developing countries would provide them equal access to education and innovation. Let’s see why in five points.
1. Improving self development
There are now many educational digital tools, from online courses, articles, research etc. Apps can as well be used to learn. Especially for children, applications can be very useful. Most of the time, children are not aware they are learning because first of all they are having fun. On a tablet or cell phone, apps are a easy way to get information and education. For example, let’s see how using an edutainment App can be a way to learn for children in developing countries.
For example, the edutainment app Gozoa, permits children to improve their self-development by playing educational games without thinking they are learning. With its innovative concept, GOZOA created a whole universe and is now a way for children to learn mathematics while playing an exciting game. Developed by teachers and educators, the academic standard is insured by the different games GOZOA Apps company launched across Google Play and App Store community.
The app can be easily downloaded from the Internet, so it is obviously available around the world, permitting young children from Latin America to Africa and elsewhere to play funny games while learning using digital devices.
Gozoa: screenshot of website
2. Learning about the world
There are millions of children around the world who are not in school and don’t have access to the tools they need to get education. Education means academic programs but it also means having information about health, rights, politics, etc. Nowadays children can learn about their rights and can find help via NGO’s and charities, which are more and more present online. Children and young adults can be aware of what is happening in their country and also in the world. They can create links with other pupils over the world, learn about foreign culture and language. We live a unique moment nowadays, in terms of education, as we have now global learning. Many digital tools enable the connection between two children, two countries, two cultures. For example, Glovico is an organization which offers real-time courses with native teachers. A connected device and Skype are sufficient to link a child in a developing country with a native teacher anywhere else in the world. Moreover, Glovico is a Social Businesses which operates specifically in developing countries. Glovico permits people from developing countries to be teachers and earn additional income and enables children to get foreign language classes from home.
3. Improving the number of educated children and young adults
Children and young adult in developing countries face difficult situations. Education, school is hardly ever a top priority. Most of the time children need to work to earn money for themselves and their family plus the school is far away from their home. The digital brings a window of hope here. If they have connected devices, they won’t have to risk to loose their job by losing time to go to school and even sometimes to risk their life in order to learn. Students can make their schedule as they want to and study and work without risking anything.
Digital education exists at different levels of education. For school-aged children, digital education is mostly for those who live far away from school or where there is lack of teachers. However, UNESCO’s study in 2011, showed that except in Indonesia, there are very few programs of elementary education at a distance. On the contrary, higher education is more likely to be digitalized in developing countries. It is because former universities provide digital education programs via the Internet, specially for developing countries. For example, the British university Open University opened a special African branch and works in training teachers, opening distance universities in Ghana, etc. Where digital education is available, more young people are educated. One of such programs is TESSA, a website where teacher from African countries can find resources to use in their classrooms:
4. Reducing costs
It appears that digital education permits more children to be educated mostly because it reduces costs. Training and recruiting teachers are expensive. Having the buildings and the materials as well. How to figure with these costs in countries where children have to work to survive and help their families? The e-learning is dematerialized way to get education. Consequently, it reduces costs associated. The connection to the Internet is necessary but even a small device can be used. It is more affordable to a developing country to get an Internet connexion onto cheap computers than to build schools, buy tables and books, etc. Children can get access to global learning and get more chances to stay out of war enrolment, drug market or even prostitution.
5.Improving the whole country economy
There is no doubt that, if a population is educated, the workforce will be more effective and well adapted to the international markets. Indeed, there is a general thought that the Internet and all things related to (such as the digital education) can stimulate economic growth in developing countries. With educated population, a country becomes more attractive to investors and more competitive. Of course, costs are still high in order to create effective eLearning available and used in developing countries. But one positive aspect of elearning is that it is less expensive than a traditional way to educate population and in comparison, as written above, benefits are high.
As demonstrated, eLearning improves education in a good way. It benefits students and helps them to stay away from social problems and to improve their potential. But it also benefits the whole developing country economy by attracting foreign investment and saving money. Despite of all the advantages we highlighted, there is a major challenge of developing countries to get into ICT for children. Indeed, they have to be protected from dangers the Internet can provide. Sexual tourism, war enrolment, or even all sort of trafficking are some of the many problems that may be brought by the Internet. As such families and gvernments need to be aware of this and need to find ways to protect children.
I am a French 24 years old childrens’ rights passionate. I concluded a Master degree in international relations between France and Canada, followed by an internship at a childrens’ rights nongovernmental organization based in Switzerland. I have worked in Montreal, Vancouver, London, and Geneva. Now I volunteer for several causes via associations. I am willing to involve my carrier in an international and humanitarian way.
More personally, I would like to explore the World, and be immersed within different cultures and see the beauty of the Earth!