This blog was originally featured on the "Inside the Web" blog on 3/28/11 and was authored by Jim Rosenberg, Social Media Adviser to the World Bank
Rising and volatile food prices are causing pain and suffering for poor people around the world, driving 44 million people into extreme poverty in recent months. On April 14-15, 2011 we are hosting our second Open Forum, a global conversation to look at the problem and possible solutions to overcome the food crisis.
Quick. If someone says to you: “Give me the latest ‘news’” what do you think to tell them?
Maybe the latest from Libya or Japan or Cote d’Ivoire? Perhaps something about the NYSE bids or the US government shutdown? Maybe you mention India winning the Cricket World Cup or UConn taking the NCAA basketball tournament?
Well, if you are talking to a college student, you might want to think twice about what you say and how you say it. According to a new global study just released by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) at the University of Maryland, when college students around the world talk about needing to get “news,” they don’t just want updates on world affairs, business or even sports. “News” to students means “anything that just happened” – and students most care about “news” of their friends and family, before any “news” that might be globally momentous.
How do you keep computers in schools in working order? Basic technical maintenance is a perennial challenge for many schools in developing countries. The phenomenon of unused -- and unusable! -- computers in schools is all too well known to anyone who works in the field. While it is a bit of an exaggeration to label this a 'tragedy', few could argue that this isn't a very unfortunate situation -- especially given the high costs associated with acquiring and installing such equipment, to say nothing of the learning opportunities lost when students and teachers are unable to use expensive equipment that is already paid for.
What to do about this? I regularly encounter a number of common answers to this question.
When India first started using technology for national development, it used technology to build a huge software industry which helped the economy grow in the 1990s. In the decades that followed, with a much improved economy, civic minded Indians set their sights on a much loftier goal – tackling corruption.
In July 2008 The Washington Post reported that nearly a fourth of the 540 Indian Parliament members faced criminal charges, "including human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and even murder". The criminalization of politics causes a huge drain of public resources and the resulting loss of credibility for politicians dissuades civic minded citizens from stepping forward. Unfortunately the average voter often has little to no idea of the criminal background of some of these Parliament members and hence public opinion cannot be used to throw them out of power. The media, too, does not have capacity to focus on all the corruption cases and usually focuses on the most egregious violations.
In a post today on the Education for Global Development' blog, World Bank education sector director Elizabeth King reports back from Jomtein, Thailand on the High Level Group Meeting on Education For All (EFA). This event was a successor, of sorts, to the landmark event convened in Jomtein back in 1990 that kickstarted the global movement for 'Education For All', which has been a primary goal for many developing countries (supported by most international development agencies) for the past two decades. The title of Beth's blog post sums up her message very nicely ("Jomtien, 20 Years Later: Global Education for All Partners Must Renew Commitment to Learning") and echoes key themes and perspectives expressed in her keynote address [link to pdf] to 50 education ministers back in January at the Education World Forum. I won't try to summarize her calls to action any more here (for that, I recommend you see the text of her blog and, especially, her excellent keynote speech). I would, however, like to use the opportunity to revisit the question of the relevance of ICTs to this global agenda.
I'll present a short version of the paper, which was co-authored with Michael Clemens of the Center for Global Development. This will be followed by a presentation from John McArthur, CEO of the Millenium Promise organization. Our session will be the last of the conference, on Tuesday 6-7 p.m. UK time (2-4 pm East Coast U.S. time.)
Mainstreaming a gender perspective is considered essential in assessing the implication of any development program, project or policy on men and women. This holds true of the modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as well, as research studies are showing a significant gap between men and women in their access to and understanding of ICT opportunities.
Back in 2008, a World Bank study on Textbooks and School Library Provision in Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa [pdf] noted that "There is little or no evidence in any of the 19 countries reviewed of any systematic approach to, or consideration of, the full range of secondary textbook cost reduction strategies", adding that "Only 1 out of 19 countries studied (Botswana) had adequate textbook provision at close to a 1:1 ratio for all subjects and all grades."
In other words: There aren't enough textbooks for most students in Africa, and what is available is too expensive.
A number of groups are looking at this reality and wondering if the use of inexpensive e-book readers may be able to help. One such group at the World Bank is exploring an e-book pilot initiative in Nigeria (which has been examined previously on the EduTech blog). This pilot is looking at what it might take to deliver textbooks in digital formats for reading by secondary school students on dedicated e-readers, and what might happen as a result. It is not just looking at the use of official textbooks, however. The project team is also seeking to investigate the potential impact on educational achievement of making small libraries of digital books available to students on e-readers. In doing so, it is intrigued by studies such as Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations, which found that
As I explore innovative approaches in civilian-led movements, I become increasingly knowledgeable about the latest technological gadgets and devices that have become powerful tools in demand for good governance and democratic reform processes. Don’t worry, I won’t go on about the Arab Revolution and the role of social media yet again. Instead, I will talk about a latest invention that does not even require the end users to have a web access, something that can be exploited by just anyone, even the illiterates. FreedomFone is an ICT invention that has been specifically designed to cater to those that are in most need of information, bearing in mind the barriers they face in accessing information and the opportunities it provides to improve their conditions.