Syndicate content

June 2010

Searching for India's Hole in the Wall

Michael Trucano's picture
two holes in the wall, actually

I recently found myself with a free morning in Delhi, and thought I would make use of the time by searching for a certain rather famous Hole In The Wall.

Some quick background: Back in 1999 professor Sugata Mitra decided to conduct a very simple, small-scale exeriment: He put a computer behind some protective plexiglass, connected it to a joystick, and embedded the whole thing in a wall in a Delhi slum.  They he stood back and watched (both literally, and via a small video camera placed nearby).  It turned out that, left to their own devices, children could 'learn computers' outside of the formal education system, unsupervised. Hearing about this experience was said to be the inspiration for the story that eventually became an Oscar-winning movie, Slumdog Millionaire. The Hole in the Wall had been in my thoughts for a number of reasons, including that fact that it had recently been awarded one of the Macarthur Foundation's DML prizes.  (Disclaimer: A company, HiWEL, was formed by NIIT to take this work further, and it has received funding from the IFC, part of the World Bank Group. I have had no connection with this project or its principals.)

Learning from Becta

Michael Trucano's picture

an axe falls ... where will the chips land? | image attribution at bottomThe recent news that Becta, the UK's ICT/education agency, is to be abolished later this year has been met with shock in many quarters outside the UK. 

(I don't pretend to know how this has been understood within the UK itself, and I have no comment on internal political matters in the UK that led to this action. I don't confess to any special insight or expertise in this area ... but even if I did, it would not be my place to comment on them in a World Bank blog.  Others are of course more free to do so.)

Many developing countries have looked to Becta as a general touchstone for leading thought and practice related to the use of ICTs in education. This is especially the case with regard to the research and  huge number of influential publications that have been put out by Becta over the years, which are widely consumed and cited by academics, government officials and consultants active around the world in planning and implementing ICT-related initiatives in formal education systems.

NRENs: Accessing the connectivity revolution for education

Michael Foley's picture

[Note: This was originally posted in two parts on the World Bank's End Poverty in South Asia blog. It is reproduced here by gracious permission of the author.]

Linking Asia-Pacific to Europe and beyond | photo courtesy of Dante.netWhen Jim Wolfensohn, then President of the World Bank, sent me to Kabul in early 2002, just after the fall of the Taliban, in order to set up the first GDLN center in Afghanistan, the main challenge was to find decent Internet connectivity. In the end we had to set up our own satellite connection back to the World Bank in Washington, DC. The same happened in Sri Lanka. How things have changed in South Asia.

For a long time, universities in the region had to rely on high cost, low speed, satellite based services to bring Internet access to its faculty and students, but that situation is changing rapidly. Led by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in Pakistan and more recently by the National Knowledge Commission in India, and by a host of other programs in other countries, educational institutions across the region are building or rebuilding their networks, connecting to each other and to global networks with high speed fiber optic links that are set to revolutionize how we share knowledge and collaborate in research.