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Education

Tablets in education

Michael Trucano's picture
tablets: the cure for what ails education?
tablets: the cure for
what ails education?

While it can sometimes be difficult to understand just what exactly the related question or challenge is, in many education systems around the world, the 'answer' or 'solution' put forward is increasing the same:

'Tablets!'

Indeed, it seems that, over the past few years, not a week has gone by without some sort of high profile announcement about a new educational tablet initiative somewhere -- or about changes to an existing such project.

Excitement about the promise and potential of information and communication technology (ICT) devices for use in teaching and learning has been around for a few decades, but only recently has this been translated into large scale purchases of such devices for use in schools outside of industrialized, 'highly developed' countries. What's happening where, you ask?

Here are some random, but fairly representative, reports from recent years about this undeniable trend:

Not all the news is about tablets going *out* to schools; devices can flow in the reverse direction as well:

It's true that not everything that is announced actually comes to pass. Timelines are often a moving target, and the scope and/or scale of a project as initially conceived can change radically. But the trend is clear.

Why are educational policymakers authorizing the purchases of so many tablets in so many education systems around the world?

Banning and unbanning phones in schools

Michael Trucano's picture
forbidden ... or encouraged?
forbidden ... or encouraged?
When planning for new initiatives that will introduce and/or utilize information and communications technologies (ICTs) in some way, a simple general rule of thumb is worth considering:

The best technology is often the one you already have, know how to (and do) use, and can afford. In many places around the world, this technology is the mobile phone.

This is not to contend that 'new' technology devices should not be considered -- far from it! Rather, this general guidance is meant to serve as a reminder for planners and decisionmakers to consider how it might be possible to take advantage of and leverage *existing* technologies, and the activities and processes these technologies enable, before committing to introduce totally new (or foreign) technology tools into a given environment. Just because something is new doesn't mean that it is automatically better. Of course: It doesn't mean that it is worse, either.

At a conceptual level, when considering what technology devices are to be utilized as part of a given project or activity, mobile phones may often be the 'best' technology. But: Does that make the mobile phone an appropriate or practical technology choice for use in schools, and/or by students and teachers?

It depends.

When it comes to mobile phones and the education sector, things aren't so simple, and answers vary considerably by place -- and are changing. In some countries and schools, mobile phones are not allowed at all for students (and in some cases for teachers as well) and/or their use is limited to certain circumstances inside (and in some instances even outside) of school. In other places, phones are allowed with few restrictions. In yet other places, long time bans on phones are being reversed. Even where bans are in place, phones are still to be found in schools, for better and for worse, and they are used for a variety of purposes (again, for better and for worse).
 
What are some current perspectives and practices related to
the use of mobile phones in schools and education systems around the world?

New tools to accommodate old financial habits: key for digital financial services usage

Ignacio Mas's picture


When it comes to understanding the needs and behaviors of low-income people, the financial inclusion literature is full of contradictions. Experts celebrate poor people for their complex, active financial lives, but then seek to educate them financially.  Researchers document how resilient and purposeful their informal practices are, but then investigate ways to protect them against their own financial habits. Giving the poor a wide range of financial choices is an admirable goal, but do we really need to “nudge” them to change behaviors, as if the choice had already been made for them?

PPP-powered access to water — and much more

Melvin Tan's picture
Note: This blog entry was adapted from an original submission for the PPIAF Short Story Contest. It is part of a series highlighting the role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) in projects and other transformative work around the world.

One of the most salient features of a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement is the flexibility to use out-of-the-box solutions in resolving the many challenges in day-to-day operations. As a result, the PPP setup gives operators the liberty to come up with innovative solutions for more effective and efficient delivery of the most basic services.
 
Location of Laguna Province in the
Philippines. Image: Wikimedia Commons

In the Philippines, Laguna Water — a joint venture company formed as a result of a PPP between the Provincial Government and Manila Water Philippine Ventures formerly known AAA Water Corporation — is benefitting immensely from that flexibility since it took over the operations of the province-run water system in 2009. Although primarily tasked to improve the provision of water and wastewater in the three cities of Biñan, Sta. Rosa and Cabuyao — collectively known as concession area — Laguna Water’s sustainable business model allows it to participate on matters related to community development (including job generation), as well as programs centered on health, safety and environmental protection.
 
As a staunch advocate of sustainability, Laguna Water takes pride in having significantly improved access to piped, clean and affordable water to 62 percent of the population of the concession area— a far cry from the 14 percent when it started its operations in 2009. The joint venture’s PPP framework has been instrumental in putting in place water infrastructure that provides easier access and better services to customers. Today, Laguna Water is the biggest water service provider in the entire province, and is also ahead in its service-level targets on coverage, water quality and water loss reduction. 
 
Here are some details about our PPP-empowered approach.

Fresh on Flipboard--- read about our efforts to boost education

Bassam Sebti's picture


From among 2,500 applicants, 20 year-old Fatima was able to secure a seat in an information technology (IT) class at an educational institute in Kabul, Afghanistan. The training of 209 students is delivered with financial support from the World Bank. 

Like Fatima, millions of children and youth across the world have been benefitting from World Bank-funded projects. The Bank is the largest external education financier for developing countries. It supports education through an average of $2.8 billion a year in new financing to help these countries achieve their education goals.

To further highlight the World Bank Group’s efforts in boosting education across the world, such as Fatima’s success story, we have launched our first free digital magazine on the popular news aggregation app, Flipboard.

What happens when the playground is also the potty?

Emily C. Rand's picture

Imagine you are a busy mother scrubbing your laundry next to the public water stand near your yard. You realize your two year old — who is playing in the dirt — has to go to the toilet. What do you do? Chances are good you might just let them go on the ground somewhere nearby.

According to a recent analysis by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank Global Water Practice's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) in key countries, over 50 percent of households with children under age three reported that the feces of their children were unsafely disposed of the last time they defecated. What this really means is that children are literally pooping where they are and their feces are left there, in the open. Meanwhile, the feces of other children in the neighborhood are put or rinsed in a ditch or drain, or buried or thrown into solid waste streams that keep the feces near the household environment.

 

​Housing the next generation of Kenya’s leaders: A PPP that makes the grade

Evans Kamau's picture
Many university students learn Newton’s third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. At one Kenyan university, two very positive actions – narrowing the backlog of students admitted after high school graduation, and a 2002 government bill declaring free primary education for all – led to the nation’s first public-private partnership (PPP), a most unexpected reaction. 
 
Existing student hostel at Kenyatta University

Kenyatta University (KU) has 50,000 students, and because of the national momentum on education, enrollment is expected to increase to 70,000 in the next two years. The only problem with this huge step forward has been housing all of these new students; currently, the university’s 22 hostels house only about 10,000 undergraduate students. KU’s status quo-shattering PPP will result in housing for 10,000 more students, at the same time marking it as the first public institution to deliver a PPP project under Kenya’s Public Private Partnership Act of 2013. 
 
For the 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students who will now be able to live on campus, this PPP earns an “A” for a different reason – it’s the first time these students will have access to regulated, fairly priced accommodations with no commute or accompanying transportation charges to class. And by living on campus, these students can safely study long into the night at the library and other university facilities – which is critical to the intellectual development of this next generation.
 
The right time + the right partner + the right place = the right PPP
Until recently, Kenyan students graduating from high school were typically forced to wait two years before registering at universities, due to backlogs created in the late 1990s as a result of student unrests and lecturer strikes that led to long closures of educational institutions. In the past few years, however, the University Joint Admission Board, working through government, decided to reduce the backlog by one year.  Numbers tell the rest of the story: nationwide, university student enrollments grew from 96,000 to 160,000 in 2015.  In addition, the free primary education introduced in 2002 tripled the number of students in primary schools, which also energized enrollment. Predictably, these two positive developments stressed the capacity of university facilities, and Kenyatta University has been struggling to meet the need for students’ accommodation.

MOOCs and e-learning for higher education in developing countries: the case of Tajikistan

Saori Imaizumi's picture
There has been a lot of talk and research on massive open online courses (MOOCs) and their potential impact, but is it really applicable to developing countries? How can universities take advantage of online content? And what kind of regulations and quality assurance mechanisms do we need? 

Last year, as a part of the “Tajikistan: Higher Education Sector Study,” I led a team to conduct pilot activities to assess the feasibility of using MOOCs and other e-learning content in higher education institutions (HEIs) in Tajikistan.

Recently the Government of Tajikistan has decided to discontinue existing correspondence-based programs for part-time students and shift to a “distance learning” system using computers and Internet technology. Thus, this study was conducted to assess the possibility of using information and communication technologies (ICT) to improve access, quality and relevance of higher education in Tajikistan. In addition, the study supported a mini-project to pilot a number of ICT-based solution models to tackle challenges identified in the country’s National Education Development Strategy.

Recently, we interviewed pilot participants about their experience participating in MOOCs, e-learning and distance education, and then produced a series of short video clips. These videos showcase the impact of potential use of online learning and distance education for improving access, quality and relevance of education as well as reduction of the gender gap. One of the female students in the video mentioned that distance education allows her to continue studying after having kids.

Here is the overview video that we produced:
 
ICT for Higher Education? The Case of Tajikistan

Ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity is about realizing human potential

Ted Chu's picture
© Vikash Kumar

I have been fascinated by the concept of frontier all my life. What brought us here? What’s next? As a kid, my favorite book was “Ten Thousand Whys,” a pop-science series with all kinds of seemingly trivial questions like “Why are there fewer stars in the sky in winter?”

I wrote my Ph.D. dissertation on the Production Efficiency Frontier Theory — how to identify the most efficient units in a production network and measure the technical frontier. Later I became more of a macroeconomist and my interest expanded to identifying countries standing on the growth frontier. Subsequently, I began studying the deepest thinkers and became convinced that humanity is on an important new frontier of cosmic evolution.

Results-based financing for higher education reforms in Madhya Pradesh, India

Kavita Watsa's picture
 
Students in Madyha Pradesh, India.
Students in Madyha Pradesh, India.

A couple of months ago, I visited Chandra Shekhar Azad College in Sehore, about an hour’s drive from Bhopal, the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. It was a short visit, but long enough to see that college students the world over have similar dreams and see higher education as a way to realize them.


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