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Information and Communication Technologies

Low-cost ICT devices in education: An update

Michael Trucano's picture

it takes increasingly fewer pennies to buy these things (but the cost is still too high in many places)Back in 2005 when I was with infoDev, we started maintaining a list containing A short inventory of known projects related to 'low cost ICT user devices for the developing world', with special attention to the education sector' . While the One Laptop Per Child Project was dominating much of the discussion around this topic in many circles, it was clear that there were lots of other interesting initiatives sprouting up that might be worth tracking (scores of them, in fact), but there was no consolidated list of them anywhere.  Many people found the list we cobbled together to be useful and it started to circulate quite widely via email, so we thought it might be a good idea to publish it on the web. So we did. For a good while it was (after the home page) by far the most downloaded item from the infoDev site, and we regularly saw versions of the list (usually without attribution) appearing in reports from consulting firms and in conference presentations.

The list was never meant to be comprehensive, but rather representative of the varied developments that were occuring in this area.  As we said at the time:

Checking in with BridgeIT in Tanzania: Using mobile phones to support teachers

Michael Trucano's picture

BridgeIT in Tanzania; image courtesy of the International Youth Foundation

A recent event at the World Bank focused on "Mobile Innovations for Social and Economic Transformation: From Pilots to Scaled-up Implementation" included an interesting session on the use of mobile phones in development. Following on an opening talk by Dr. Mohamed Ally of Canada's Athabasca University (you can download a free copy of his book on mobile learning), Kate Place of the International Youth Foundation provided an update on activities and emerging lessons learned from the BridgeIT project in Tanzania (“Elimu kwa Teknolojia” in Kiswahili), which provides access to digital video content in classrooms ‘on demand’ via mobile phone technology. 

Full Speed Ahead: Internet Traffic Growth Unaffected by Financial Crisis

Joe Qian's picture

Reading about the financial crisis and the effects that have rippled around the world, it’s always heartening to find something positive in the midst of piles of red ink and pessimistic expectations.

Although the majority of industries and economies around the world have suffered due to the downturn, Internet traffic growth accelerated at an increasing rate in 2009 compared to 2008 with no discernible slowdown due to the crisis. According to data released by Telegeography, every single region around the globe registered growth in internet traffic, or flow of data. South Asia has registered over a 100% increase, higher than the 79% posted worldwide, although it must be noted that South Asia had a lower baseline capacity.

African Successes

Shanta Devarajan's picture

In recent years, a broad swath of African countries has begun to show a remarkable dynamism.  From Mozambique’s impressive growth rate (averaging 8% p.a. for more than a decade) to Kenya’s emergence as a major global supplier of cut flowers, from M-pesa’s mobile phone-based cash transfers to KickStart’s low-cost irrigation technology for small-holder farmers, and from Rwanda’s gorilla tourism to Lagos City’s Bus Rapid Transit system, Africa is seeing a dramatic transformation.  This favorable trend is spurred by, among other things, stronger leadership, better governance, an improving business climate, innovation, market-based solutions, a more involved citizenry, and an increasing reliance on home-grown solutions.  More and more, Africans are driving African development. 

The global economic crisis of 2008-09 threatens to undermine the optimism that Africa can harness this dynamism for long-lasting development.  In light of this, it might be useful to re-visit recent achievements.  The African Successes study aims to do just that.

The study will identify a wide range of development successes (see list), from which around 20 cases will be selected for in-depth study.  The analysis of each successful experience will evaluate the following: (1) the drivers of success—what has worked and why; (2) the sustainability of the successful outcome(s); and (3) the potential for scaling up successful experiences.  African success stories offer valuable insights and practical lessons to other countries in the region. 

I welcome your comments and suggestions for success stories. Click here to see the list of what we have come up with so far.

Quote of the Week

Antonio Lambino's picture

"Constellations of Change

Media structures, laws, and policies are scarcely ever modified to find a more beautiful form, or even to develop a more efficient way to achieve commonly agreed-upon goals.  Changes in structure, including changes in law, occur because of pressure from within industry, the society, and the government, from within or without the state... Because (the global communications system's) contours are important for the fundamentals of national identity, for trade, and the world political order, the shaping of it is a matter not only of domestic preference but also of international debate and foreign policy."

Monroe E. Price (2002, pp. 12-13)                             
Media and Sovereignty: The Global Information Revolution and Its Challenge to State Power

Useful Reading on Africa: Links of the week for Sept. 4, 2009

Shanta Devarajan's picture

Here is some good reading on Africa:

- As Africa grows richer, there are reasons to be pessimistic about its ability to capitalize on the benefits of a reduction in population growth, says The Economist. One reason is that one in two Africans is a child, which means that traditional ways of caring for children in extended families are breaking down.

Sharing our work at the Digital Citizen conference.

Sameer Vasta's picture

For those of you who are in Washington DC and want to learn more about the World Bank's work on the web — specifically, how audience feedback and data are driving the way we approach our new online initiatives — I'd recommend you attend the DigitalCitizen Conference on October 8, 2009.

Essay competition: youth entrepreneurship and the web?

Sameer Vasta's picture

As part of the lead-up to the Y2Y Global Youth Conference to take place here in Washington DC in October, the World Bank Youth-to-Youth Community is launching an essay competition on youth entrepreneurship in times of crisis.

The contest is open to all young people aged 18-30 around the world and shortlisted essays will be featured on the World Bank Y2Y website.

Ingenious Engineers for India

Andreas Blom's picture

With its massive talent-base, a unique ability to attract its best and brightest students to the engineering discipline, and the presence of some of the world’s leading companies, India has an enormous potential to modernize its economy through engineering education and technology.

However, I think the potential is not fully exploited. The majority of new engineers in India are superb at rote memorization useful to pass paper exams. Many students, however, are less skilled at solving real-life problems with creativity. Also they lack communication and team skills in order to succeed in a demanding international setting.

Hearing the call for open data.

Sameer Vasta's picture

In his most recent TED talk, open data advocate Hans Rosling blasted the World Bank (and lauded the US government) on data sharing practices. Rosling said that while we at the Bank have some of the best researchers and the best access to data, we're not doing enough to share that data openly, and for free.


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