Education TechnologyAs the world continues to grapple with persistent inequalities in access to quality education, the emergence of innovative education technology (EdTech) offers renewed hope for bridging the global education gap. Socioeconomic disparities and geographical barriers continue to undermine the universal right to education, leaving a vast number of children and youth out of school. EdTech solutions, including diverse initiatives such as open online courses and interactive digital learning platforms, have begun to demonstrate their potential to make education more accessible and widen the scope of high-quality learning opportunities across the globe.

The Global Education Gap: EdTech as a Solution

According to UNESCO, more than 258 million children and youth were out of school in 2019. This figure represents a significant hindrance to global development, worsening both poverty and inequality. Therefore, bridging this gap is an urgent global priority that demands immediate and comprehensive interventions.

In response to this pressing need, EdTech has emerged as a potential game-changer for education across the globe. These technologies include an array of educational initiatives ranging from open online courses to interactive digital learning platforms. Not only do these platforms make learning more engaging and personalized, but they also hold the potential to make education more accessible. In overcoming physical, social and economic barriers, bridging the education gap becomes more attainable.

The Interplay of EdTech and Poverty Alleviation

Beyond its potential in education, EdTech is playing a crucial role in poverty reduction. When efficiently incorporated into educational systems, technology can empower individuals and communities, ultimately enabling social mobility. The World Bank affirms that EdTech can foster economic transformations by shifting toward knowledge-based models. These models are not only more sustainable but also foster equitable growth in the long run. 

Ensuring Inclusive Adoption of EdTech

While the adoption of education technology is rapidly gaining momentum, it’s crucial to ensure that these advances do not inadvertently exacerbate existing inequalities. To maximize the potential benefits of EdTech, there is a pressing need for a coordinated, holistic approach. Governments, NGOs and private sectors must collaborate to ensure that these technologies are accessible and beneficial to all learners, preventing the emergence of a digital divide in education.

EdTech in Action

Taking the digital leap, programs like Samsung’s Smart Class are playing a pivotal role in rural India. Samsung India’s initiative provides classrooms with Wi-Fi and necessary training for teachers to effectively employ advanced digital tools like interactive Smartboards, laptops and tablets. The result is a noteworthy increase in student engagement and comfort with technology. On the African continent, two significant projects, BraceKids and Africa Code Week, are introducing coding to hundreds of thousands of children. These programs provide programming language workshops, equipping young minds with important digital skills for the future.

Efforts are also underway to promote diversity in tech education. Nonprofits like Rails Girls, founded in Finland, offer worldwide training in basic programming, sketching and prototyping to encourage women to engage with technology. Another example of this is with the Ministries of Education, which is exploring virtual reality (VR) for classrooms, globally. In Singapore, the Rails Girls is partnering with a local company to create virtual field trips, meant to supplement, not replace, traditional learning. Early results show students’ insights have improved with this tool. These initiatives exemplify the potential of EdTech in bridging the global education gap. By demonstrating how technology can help facilitate education and provide quality learning opportunities, these efforts shine a light on the path toward a more digitally inclusive educational future.

Education technology holds remarkable potential to bridge the global education gap and to fundamentally reshape the future of learning. However, the journey to realizing this vision is complex and requires meticulous planning and execution. Successfully rising to the challenge opens the path for EdTech to revolutionize the education landscape, extend learning opportunities to those previously left behind and make a significant contribution to global poverty alleviation efforts.

– Mari Caitlin Riggles 
Photo: Flickr

Global Campaign for EducationGlobal Action Week for Education was held April 24 through 30 this year. UNESCO attended the Global Campaign for Education’s event to discuss what can be done to increase education funding, reported Education International.

According to UNESCO, the Global Campaign for Education is responsible for organizing this week devoted to global education and this year focused particularly on ways to create financial resources for global education.

GCE partnered with UNESCO at their headquarters in Paris on April 25 to hold a panel on this topic, entitled, “Financing for SDG4-Education 2030: Leaving no one behind — what will it take to narrow inequity gaps?”

The SDG4 refers to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4, which focuses on Quality Education, per the UN’s website.

SDG4 has a number of targets to aim for, according to the U.N. Women website. Some of these goals include, by 2030, to have:

  • All girls and boys complete adequate primary and secondary education
  • Gender equality at all levels of education
  • All boys and girls and many adults achieve literacy and numeracy
  • Relevant skills taught, including sustainable development.

According to UNESCO, many countries still struggle with meeting the basic education needs of children, due in part to either of lack of funding or misallocation of funding. This, in turn, is hard to remedy because there is not always adequate data regarding either the financial aspect of education or the number of school-age children being properly educated in a given country.

UNESCO is uniquely suited to aid in the effort to create more meaningful data on global education, via the UNESCO Institute for Statistics. UIS is working not only to create better data, but also to use that data to create better plans for itself and similar groups to create global education goals.

For the Global Action Week for Education, target goals included demanding that governments honor the financial commitments they have pledged in support of education, reported Education International.

Key speakers for the panel included H.E. Ambassador Tarald Brautaset, Norwegian Government’s Special Envoy for Education in charge of the Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, David Archer, Head of Programme Development with ActionAid, GCE Board Member and Teopista Birungi, founder of the Uganda National Teachers’ Union.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said this of the issue: “Failing to make adequate investments in education puts the fulfillment of the entire global agenda at risk.”

Katherine Hamblen

Photo: Flickr


South Africa’s education system is badly managed and poorly equipped, with students performing far behind their African peers, according to World Policy Blog.

With the government failing to provide children with a decent education, private and fee-paying schools are becoming more popular. But not everyone can afford to access these superior schools. The City Press decided to calculate the cost of sending your child to one of these schools up to grade 12 in South Africa and here is what they found:

  • Private school costs approximately $225,700.
  • An upper-income school was estimated to cost around $41,000.
  • An average fee-paying school costs more than $15,000.

These figures were calculated based on a child who starts school in 2016 and finishes in 2028 — and include every necessity such as stationary, supplies, uniforms and boarding costs.

South Africa has struggled to provide affordable quality public education, but low-cost private schools are now on the rise and are providing alternatives to the high cost of education in South Africa.

Instead of private schools only available to the elite, low-cost private schools are providing education to middle and lower-income families who feel the state education system is failing their children. According to the Economist, there are some low-cost private schools that cost as little as $1 per week.

Due to inadequate public schools, these low-cost private schools have a much bigger share of primary school pupils in developing countries than in developed ones. Elsewhere in Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana, in particular, have also seen a large increase in the number of low-cost private schools opening, according to World Policy Blog.

Although the South African government has been criticized for not doing enough to address the issues with their education system, the expansion of these low-cost private schools provides the possibility of quality education to students who cannot afford to attend elite private schools or even the average fee-paying government schools.

Jordan Connell

Sources: Business Tech, The Economist, World Policy Blog
Photo: Google Images