Distance Learning Programs
As a result of the pandemic, world leaders are rethinking how education is delivered to an estimated 2.2 billion children. The speed of internet connections, online infrastructure and security all pose unique obstacles in expanding distance learning programs. Here are nine successful distance learning programs in developing nations that can serve as a model for other countries.

9 Successful Distance Learning Programs in Developing Nations

  1. Bangladeshi Television (BTV) broadcasts lessons daily to students grades 6 to 10. It is currently expanding to other mediums such as radio, cell phones and online lessons like BTV’s YouTube Channel in order to educate children consistently. UNICEF cites alternatives to physical classrooms as helping local students further their education. “The longer children stay away from school, the less likely they are to ever return,” says Tomoo Hozumi, UNICEF Country Representative in Bangladesh.
  2. The Colombian Ministry of Education implemented new online programming and educational resources in March 2020. Programs are also broadcast through radio and public television programs to maximize accessibility. For families without internet access, At-Home Learning Kits provide the necessary educational materials.
  3. Cote D’ Ivoire launched My School at Home (Mon école à la Maison) for elementary school through high school students. Educational resources are available for all grade levels and for technical and vocational courses. My School at Home obtained a $70,000 grant in March 2020 through UNICEF’s Global Partnership for Education to launch television and radio distance learning courses.
  4. Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development is helping distance learning programs in developing nations around the world. The organization was originally developed to bring access to broadband to underserved areas worldwide by 2030. In response to COVID-19, the commission is participating in high-level advocacy to bring “resilient connectivity, affordable access and safe use of online services” to developing countries.
  5. Moodle is an open-source learning platform that has been in operation for over a decade. Collaborating with more than 80 partners, Moodle provides an intuitive, multi-lingual learning environment to more than 213 million users in 120 languages. Moodle’s modular design and ease of use allow for applications in all types of education, but it’s the belief that technological access empowers the world that sets this pioneering company apart.
  6. Founded in 2004, Pratham InfoTec Foundation (PIF) aims to expand access to technological advancements in India. The plan is to use these technological advancements to bridge the educational divides experienced by impoverished youth. In response to the COVID-19 global health crisis, PIF has launched the Digital Sakshar Initiative, a collection of over 30 courses and thousands of free videos, available online and as an app.
  7. Trees of Knowledge provides repositories of educational content throughout rural areas in Africa. Developed by William Sachiti, the idea is to install wireless hubs preloaded with digital content into large trees. In addition to providing a school experience to remote villages, Tree of Knowledge learning hubs also have first aid and hygiene information. The technology is published as open-source, meaning anyone can improve a child’s quality of life by establishing remote learning in developing countries that is convenient and safe.
  8. edX is a global nonprofit working to increase access to post-secondary education worldwide. Founded in 2012, edX partners with more than 120 institutions, including Harvard and MIT, to provide high-quality education. The platform that powers edX courses is open-source and therefore can be utilized by other institutions and educators.
  9. Rumie and its development partners use their software to create and host 10-minute long micro-learning courses called Bytes. It also releases videos, MP3s and PDFs, most of which can be made available offline. Rumie’s mission is to provide free educational materials to underserved communities around the world. The organization also recently released a collection of COVID-19 related learning resources.

The pioneering programs listed above have an emphasis on equitable learning opportunities, emerging technological advances and passionate leaders. This puts them at the forefront of bringing quality education to millions of students now learning from home. Moving forward, these programs will likely become even more widely used, as digital learning transforms the future of education.

Katrina Hall
Photo: Flickr