The education landscape across the developing world is not just problematic and concerning: it is shocking and alarming. According to UNESCO, one in five people in the developing world do not complete primary school, and as such lack the critical schools they need to gain sustainable, meaningful employment — which puts them and their families at serious economic and in some cases social risk. What’s more, a staggering 250 million children in the developing world of primary school age cannot read or write.
However, the situation is not entirely grim. Across the developing world, education technology (a.k.a. EdTech) is playing an increasingly important role in connecting students with the knowledge they need to elevate themselves, their families, their communities, and indeed, their countries, and continents as a whole.
According to entrepreneur and executive Sanjeev Mansotra, here are three ways that EdTech is transforming education in the developing world, and paving the way for a better, smarter, safer, and more rewarding future for all:
In countries such as Kenya, students in both rural and urban areas are being supplied with mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, in order to access learning tools and educational content that has not historically been available due to a lack of infrastructure. And in countries such as Ghana, some schools are being provided with a “turnkey” EdTech infrastructure comprised of a satellite disk, solar-powered computer, projector, and electronic blackboard.
“Several studies have shown that computer and mobile device aided instruction enhances student learning in economically disadvantaged and rural areas, where a conventional academic infrastructure is limited or, in some cases, non-existent,” claims Sanjeev Mansotra. With this in mind, there are still some critical obstacles to address and overcome, such as the lack of 3G and 4G network coverage in many parts the developing world.
Teacher recruitment, training and retention are all major challenges in the developing world. EdTech is playing an important role in addressing these problems, and creating a network of qualified, dedicated and supported teachers. For example, the Primary Teaching Learning Program (PTLP) in Bangladesh fosters teachers’ ongoing professional development through a mix of audio-visual and print-based content.
In multiple parts of the developing world, many individuals in rural areas who would make excellent teachers are forced, due to limited local opportunities and economic hardships, to move to urban centers and pursue a different vocational path. EdTech can help address this chronic teacher shortage, and support an immense amount of peer-to-peer learning and support
The developing world is by no means a homogenous area. There are thousands upon thousands of states, regions, communities and villages that may share some common elements such as language or dialect, but in other respects can be quite diverse. EdTech has the capacity to empower different areas to curate and create content that specifically targets local dynamics and nuances.
“One of the biggest barriers to effective education in the developing world is the lack of relevant content,” commented Sanjeev Mansotra. “Understandably, students struggle to engage with content that does not meet to their needs, and many parents literally cannot afford to have their children learn about topics and issues that do not have a practical impact on daily life, or will prepare them for a decent job in the future. Rather than accepting a one-size-fits-all curriculum, schools and districts can use EdTech tools and platforms to generate or optimize content that speaks specifically to their learning needs and goals.”