Technology and Education Essay
Technology and Education
This working paper series is dedicated to the memor y of Brooke Shearer (1950-2009), a loyal friend of the Brookings Institution and a respected journalist, government of? cial and non-governmental leader. This series focuses on global poverty and development issues related to Brooke Shearer’s work, including: women’s empowerment, reconstruction in Afghanistan, HIV/AIDS education and health in developing countries. Global Economy and Development at Brookings is honored to carry this working paper series in her name.
Rebecca Winthrop is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution. Marshal S. Smith was the former director of international affairs in the U. S. Department of Education and a senior counselor to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Acknowledgements: Many thanks to April Hammons Golden who provided invaluable research assistance and to Matthew L. Smith and his IDRC colleagues, and also to Anthony Bloome, Justin van Fleet, and Anda Adams for their useful insights and comments. This paper series was made possible through generous contributions to the Brooke Shearer Memorial Fund.
Special thanks also go to Qatar Foundation International, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Spencer Foundation for their support. * *Brookings recognizes that the value it provides to any donor in its absolute commitment to quality, independence and impact. Activities sponsored by its donors re? ect this commitment and neither the research agenda, content, nor outcomes are in? uenced by any donation. A NEW FACE OF EDUC ATION: BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD 3 A NEW FACE OF EDUCATION BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD REBECCA WINTHROP AND MARSHALL S.
SMITH INTRODUCTION In the small village of Ha? zibad in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a young girl is using her mobile phone to send an SMS message in Urdu to her teacher. After sending, she receives messages from her teacher in response, which she diligently copies by hand in her notebook to practice her writing skills. She does this from the safety of her home, and with her parents’ permission, during the school break, which is signi? cant due to the insecurity of the rural region in which she lives. The girl is part of a Mobilink-UNESCO program to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan.
Initial outcomes look positive; after four months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27 percent to 54 percent. Likewise, the percentage of girls who achieved a C level on examinations decreased from 52 percent to 15 percent. 1 The power of mobile phone technology, which is fairly widespread in Pakistan, appears in this case to help hurdle several education barriers by ? nding new ways to support learning for rural girls in insecure areas—girls who usually have limited opportunities to attend school and who frequently do not receive individual attention when they do.
Often they live in households with very few books or other materi- als to help them retain over summer vacation what they learned during the school year. On the other side of the world, in South America, the deployment of technology for education has not been so promising. In Peru, a number of colorful laptops sit in a corner of a classroom covered with dust. Given to the school through a One Laptop Per Child program arranged by the Ministry of Education, the laptops were intended to improve students’ information communication technology (ICT) skills, as well as their content-related skills.
Without the proper support for teacher training in how the laptops are used, with no follow-up or repair and maintenance contingencies, and with outdated and bug-infested software, the laptops are seen as unusable and serve little purpose. 2 In this case, technology has not helped improve the educational experience of learners. Technology enthusiasts have long heralded the power of technology—from the printing press, to blackboards, to the laptop—to transform education.
With the rapid expansion of information communication technologies around the globe, there is a high level of interest 4 BROOKE SHEARER WORKING PAPER SERIES in harnessing modern technology to help advance the education status of some of the world’s poorest people. However, from Pakistan to Peru and beyond, experience shows that while there are numerous examples of how technology is used to the great bene? t of teachers and learners alike, there are also many cases in which it does little to impact educational processes and outcomes.
A better understanding of why and under what conditions these divergent outcomes emerge is the central aim of this study. women with a secondary education in South and West Asia seek neonatal care, compared with only 50 percent of women with no education. 6 Our purpose is to provide guidance to non-specialists interested in pursuing technology for educational improvement in the developing world.
Outside of a very small group of experts, educators working in and with developing countries rarely have an expertise or even a basic grounding in the wide range of technological innovations and their potential uses for education. Even the The potential of technology to help improve education has signi? cance beyond teaching children reading and math. Quality education plays an important role in promoting economic development, improving health and nutrition and reducing maternal and infant mortality rates.
Economic growth, for example, can be directly impacted by the quality of the education systems in developing countries. Studies by Hanushek and Woessman show a positive correlation over time between cognitive development, measured by student performance on international assessments, and individual earnings, income distribution and overall economic growth.
3 A study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that Asia’s increased economic performance over Africa and Latin America could be directly attributed to its higher investment in physical and human capital, such as education. 4 Quality education has also been a factor in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates. Over half of the reduction in child mortality worldwide since 1970 is linked to “increased educational attainment in women of reproductive age. ”5 Educated women are also more likely to seek out healthcare for themselves and their families.
Studies on maternal health show that 90 percent of most seasoned education expert is likely to stare blankly if terms such as ‘cloud computing’, ‘m-learning’, or ‘total cost of ownership’ are introduced into the conversation. Questions about what technology is available to support education, what its possible bene? ts are, and how it can be used effectively, can be heard equally in the halls of the ministries of education in developing countries and in those of the headquarters and of? ces of international funders of education.
Our goal is to answer these questions by providing a broad overview of some of the common education challenges facing the developing world and the range of different technologies that are available to help address them. We look closely at the different enabling conditions that frequently shape the success or failure of technology interventions in education and derive a set of seven basic principles for effective technology use.
These principles can provide guidance to decision-makers designing, implementing or investing in education initiatives. In doing so, we look both at the primary and secondary, as well as at the higher levels, of education systems. Using the World Bank classi? cation of low-income and lower- A NEW FACE OF EDUC ATION: BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD 5 middle-income countries we focus our attention on the world’s poorest countries from Sub-Saharan Africa to South and West Asia to the Caribbean.
BARRIERS TO QUALITY EDUCATION IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD A quality education for every young person in the world’s poorest countries remains elusive. Tremendous progress We focus particularly on the possibilities of recent forms of technology, often known as Information Communication Technology (ICT). ICT refers to technologies that provide access to information through telecommunications.
It is generally used to describe most technology uses and can cover anything from radios, to mobile phones, to laptops. Of course, education has used technology for centuries, from blackboards to textbooks, yet in recent history very little has changed in how education is delivered. Teachers in most schools stand at the front of a room, while students sit and listen, sometimes attentively. However, while for many years policymakers have been unconvinced about the usefulness of technology in education—citing multiple examples in which it adds little value—today there is a new focus on its possibilities.
has been made over the past decade in enrolling children into primary school, thanks in large part to actions by developing country governments and to support from the international community for a shared policy framework articulated in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Today there are 52 million more children enrolled in primary school than in 1999, and globally the education MDG focused on access to primary school is one of the goals most on-track. 7 However, focusing on access to primary school is a poor global metric for understanding the real education needs of children in developing countries.
While many enter school, few stay enrolled, and even fewer are mastering the basic skills needed to progress in their education. The national enrollment ? gures mask persistent disparities in educational opportunities within countries, with margin- We conclude ultimately that, if smartly and strategically deployed, modern information and communications technology holds great promise in helping bring quality learning to some of the world’s poorest and hardest-toreach communities. The strategy for doing so need not emulate the trajectory of educational technology use in wealthier developed nations.
Indeed, in some of the most remote regions of the globe, mobile phones and other forms of technology are being used in ways barely envisioned in the United States or Europe. Necessity is truly the mother of invention in these contexts and often leads to creative and promising ends for teachers and learners. alized groups such as the poor, those living in rural areas, and girls continuing to be left behind. And there is an increasing need to pay attention to formal and non-formal secondary education opportunities, given the large and growing youth population in the developing world.
This has led to a call from multiple actors to shift the global education paradigm from a focus on access to a focus on learning for both those in and out of school. 8 A recent proposal for a Global Compact on Learning calls for renewed attention to the broader “Education for All” goals and focuses on the importance of early childhood development, literacy and numeracy at the lower 6 BROOKE SHEARER WORKING PAPER SERIES primary level, and the transition to relevant post-primary education.
A “learning for all” lens highlights three common dimensions of primary and secondary educational shortfalls in the developing world: 1) access to learning opportunities; 2) mastery of foundational skills, including learning how to learn and analytic skills; and 3) the relevance of learning content to full participation in the economies and governing structures of today’s world. If deployed effectively, technology has a role to play in helping to address all three of these dimensions. Children who drop out or never enter school are often poor, live in rural areas, are members of ethno-linguistic minorities, and are girls.
13 Finding creative ways to provide learning opportunities for these groups would go far in helping to address inequality and is certainly one possible challenge that technology could help address. Within countries, educational inequities are striking. In Pakistan, for example, the wealthiest 20 percent of the population experience near universal access to education and have on average nine years of schooling, whereas for the poorest 20 percent, the vast majority has had less than 2. 4 years of school. 14 Across the developing world, Access to Learning.
In low-income countries, 64 million primary school-age children and 72 million lower secondary school-age children are out of school. There are large inequities among countries, but especially within countries, in terms of access to learning opportunities. The bulk of these outof-school children live in Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. Four highly populous countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan— top the list of countries with the most out-ofschool children. 10 Collectively, low-income countries that have been affected by armed con?
ict, most of which are in Africa and Asia, house almost half of the children out of primary school. 11 9 gender compounds other forms of disadvantage with poor girls being less likely than poor boys to be in school. Inequity in access to primary and lower secondary school has resulted in 54 million “missing girls” in the education systems of sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. 15 To date, post-primary education is mainly accessed by the well-to-do with only 36 percent of girls enrolling in lower secondary school in Sub-Saharan Africa.
16 Using the example of Sub-Saharan Africa, Figure 1 illustrates the large number of children lost at the various stages of a developing country’s education system. While close to 90 percent of a given group enter into primary education, few complete it and even fewer enter and/or ? nish junior or senior secondary school. Many children enroll in school but drop out before completing a full cycle of primary education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 10 million children drop out of primary school every year.
In Malawi, for example, one-quarter of children drop out in the ?rst year of school, as do 13 percent of children in South and West Asia. 12 Learning Foundational Skills Equally worrisome as the inequities in access to learning opportunities, is the poor quality of education provided to many of the children who manage to go to school. While children of the elite are able to get a high-quality education in any low-income country, the majority of young people attending school learn relatively little. A NEW FACE OF EDUC ATION: BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD 7.
Figure 1: Survival of a Cohort (%) of Students in Primary and Secondary Education in Sub-Saharan Africa 100 90 80 Net Enrolment Rate 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Enter Primary Complete Primary Enter Junior Secondary Complete Junior Secondary Enter Senior Secondary Complete Senior Secondary Source: Verspoor & Bregman, 2008. Especially frightening are comparisons of learning levels between children in rich and poor countries, which show that the average child in a poor country performs worse than 95 percent of children in rich countries on international math and reading assessments. 17.
Pakistan, nearly one-third of all primary school students are educated in low-cost private schools, the majority of which are in local communities and ? nanced by small parent contributions. At least one serious study found that students in these schools have higher learning achievement levels than do comparable students in government schools. 19 This phenomenon is also evident in a number of other countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia. Often a key factor in the provision of these schools is the presence of a literate and educated individual in the village or neighborhood who can serve as a teacher.
Many times these teachers have little formal training; frequently they have not themselves completed their own education and, therefore, only possess subject-content familiarity through the upper In the past several years, data have emerged from Asia, Africa, and Latin America that highlight the dif? culties students have in mastering foundational learning skills, such as reading. For example, in some Sub-Saharan African countries, children with ? ve years of education had a 40 percent chance of being illiterate.
In India, only half of grade 5 students in rural schools could read a grade 2 text, and in Peru, only one in ? ve 15-year-olds was able to identify one piece of information in a text. 18 In some countries, the quality of education in government schools is so poor that parents are opting to send their children to low-cost private schools. For example, in primary grade levels. Certainly ? nding creative ways to support these teachers is a fruitful area for technological innovation. 8 BROOKE SHEARER WORKING PAPER SERIES Relevance of Learning
Often those students who are able to stay in school and master basic foundational skills are not progressing to learn additional skills or to develop the capacities that would best serve them in the world of work and adulthood. This starts in primary school, where an adequate ground-work for critical thinking and other forms of social and emotional learning is rarely laid. 20 But it is especially visible at secondary levels where curricula, pedagogical styles, and learning materials are often geared toward preparing students to become traditional government bureaucrats, a legacy of the colonial era.
21 Barriers to Learning for All The reasons why every child is not accessing quality and relevant learning opportunities are complex and differ across countries. However, there is a common set of persistent barriers that frequently hold back learning for all children and youth in a number of countries. To improve access to learning opportunities, it is imperative to address both the supply and demand sides. On the supply side, the provision of education opportunities—especially by governments—is generally much better at the primary than the secondary level.
Yet even at the primary school level there are a number of barriers that reduce the odds of students attending school, such as distance The demands for education to prepare young people to live and work in today’s world are very different from those of a century ago. With education systems geared toward preparing students for the bureaucratic jobs available 50 years ago, employers regularly cannot ? nd young people with the skills required to ? ll vacant posts.
Many of the employment opportunities in the developing world are in the private sector, with jobs demanding a skill set quite different from that attained in a standard public secondary school. Between 2010 and 2015, an average of 1 million to 2. 2 million young people is expected to enter the labor market every year in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, respectively. 22 To ensure that this youth dividend is harnessed, education systems need to do a better job of developing students’ transferable and adaptable skills, such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, international language, and basic ICT familiarity.
23 and cost. At the secondary level, few governments are able to provide the number of secondary school seats for students and also provide the teachers needed for the increasingly larger cohorts of primary school graduates—which is another potential area for technology to help transform. The total cost of putting a child through a year of secondary school in Sub-Saharan Africa is three to twelve times that of a year of primary school, due to higher costs for teaching materials and classrooms.
24 The direct cost of secondary school for students makes it prohibitive for many of the poorest children. The ability of children to learn well once they are in school is often greatly affected by the teaching, materials, language of instruction, and management of the education system. Reducing these barriers would have a powerful effect on attendance in public schools, as evidenced by the startling growth of low-cost private schools, a growth fueled by the great demand for learning for all.
Below is a short description of some of these common barriers. A NEW FACE OF EDUC ATION: BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD 9 Primary and Secondary Education • Distance and cost. The limited availability of primary schools in remote, inaccessible, or particularly impoverished regions of developing countries often keeps marginalized children out of school. If schools are located too far from young children’s homes, it is dif? cult and sometimes dangerous for them to make the journey each day.
Countries differ on the distances children walk. In places like East Africa, young children frequently walk many miles to school. In Afghanistan, young girls in particular are being kept out of school if the school is too far away. A host of contextual reasons from culture to geography impact this issue in any given place. In Africa, only 56 percent of the total number of new schools needed to accommodate the projected increases in the enrollment rate among primary school-aged children have been constructed.
25 If the required number of new schools are not built, existing facilities will be taxed with accommodating larger numbers of students, thereby straining the ability of the schools to provide the students with highquality education. The quality of school facilities can be important for ensuring that certain populations are able to enroll and complete schooling; the availability and quality of bathrooms in or near schools, for example, has been cited as an important factor in ensuring girls’ access to education.
26 Where facilities are not available, or when quality is perceived as lacking, children may not be able to attend school at all. There are also conditions in which formal schooling structures may need to be adapted, such as in circumstances of poor security and armed con? ict. Sometimes cost keeps the poorest children out of primary school, even when school fees have been abolished. Hidden costs, such as uniforms, exam fees, and other required contributions can be too large a barrier for poor families.
The loss of potential income or help in the home from a child attending upper primary or secondary school, instead of working, additionally impacts the decision to continue the child’s education. Direct and indirect costs are certainly one of the main reasons primary school students do not transition to secondary school. Often secondary school is not free and school fees become much more expensive, requiring substantial contributions from households. In SubSaharan Africa, household contributions cover 30 to 60 percent of the cost of secondary schooling. 27.
Many countries, especially those with large youth populations, are struggling to provide suf? cient secondary school options for eligible students. For example, Kenya, which recently adopted a policy of free secondary school, has had to devise a quota system for admitting students, because the government schools, especially the top-performing ones, simply do not have enough space to accommodate all those graduating from primary school. 28 • Teaching. How much time teachers spend teaching and how they teach are important determinants of children’s achievement.
Teacher development programs that concentrate on preparing professionals in clinical settings and providing ongoing support, rather than in theoretical knowledge, are the most successful. 29 However, existing pre-service and, more importantly, in-service teacher education programs are not 10 BROOKE SHEARER WORKING PAPER SERIES suf? cient to prepare teachers entering the profession or to support those teachers already in the classroom. UNESCO estimates that at least 10 million new primary teachers will be needed worldwide over and above the existing teacher stock in order to achieve universal primary education by 2015.
30 To keep pace with the growth of student populations, a number of countries will need to increase teacher recruitment by between 4 and 18 percent. 31 Many countries are struggling to keep up. For example, Ethiopia needs 141,000 additional teachers between 2008 and 2015 and only 10,000 graduated from teacher colleges in 2008. Malawi needs to increase trained teacher recruitment by more than 100 percent if it hopes to keep pace. 32 Many teachers labor under tough conditions with over 70 students in their class. In some remote regions the number of students per teacher rises to well over 100.
33 The quality of teacher training that is available is also often quite weak, requiring improved learner-centered methodology as well as improved teaching skills in order to meet students’ speci? c needs. 34 Many teacher training schools continue to develop teachers who use “robotic” teaching methods, where transmission of knowledge is primarily one-way. Research shows that high-performing education systems use training programs that prepare teachers in practical or handson settings and provide a great deal of in-service support. 35 development programs are typically highly pre-service focused and are heavily theory-based.
Although this is changing, particularly at the policy level, as more education professionals and politicians recognize the value of learner-centered teaching methods, high-quality teacher development programs that teach learner-centered instructional methods and appropriate classroom management skills are not yet widespread. 37 For existing teachers, often too little time is spent teaching. For multiple reasons—from illness to child care to poor school management—teachers often spend only a small percentage of their time teaching in the classroom.
For example, in lower primary school, after subtracting time lost, the remaining instructional time, as a share of the total days available, only amounted to 31 percent in Guatemala, 34 percent in Ethiopia, and 45 percent in Nepal. 38 Also, systems for adequately developing teachers’ skills and providing them on-going support and motivation are often poor in developing countries. Many teachers need substantial support both in content knowledge and pedagogy. For example, “fewer than half of the grade 6 teachers in Mozambique, Uganda, Malawi and Lesotho were able to score at the top level of a reading test designed for their students.
”39 • Materials and language. Quality teaching and learning materials are essential ingredients for learning. In many developing countries there is a dearth of any materials, quality or otherwise. One study of southern African countries found that almost three-quarters of children in school did not have a basic textbook for mathematics or reading. 40 Often what learning mate- Such training provides important experience in new pedagogies, including learner-centered and participatory teaching methods.
Although teachers in the developing world are increasingly being asked to use similar learner-centered methods, they are provided little training or support to do so. 36 Formal teacher A NEW FACE OF EDUC ATION: BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD 11 rials are available are not of high quality. The content is either out of date, inappropriate for the learning or grade level at which it is being used, or not tied to the curriculum. Materials designed to assist students to learn to read are frequently found to be too advanced or not designed speci? cally for emergent readers.
Rarely are there supplementary reading materials for students to practice reading with at home or in schools. 41 the payroll and collecting salaries are not present in the classroom. For example, in Pakistan an estimated 20 percent of of? cially registered teachers were not teaching in schools and the government recently took action to remove them from the payroll. 44 For those teachers in schools, there is often little support for formative learning assessments that provide on-going useful knowledge to teachers about how well their students are learning, especially for those teaching in overcrowded classrooms.
An important complement Often, materials are not available in the children’s mother tongue, re? ecting a wider problem with local language instruction. “Fifty percent of the world’s outof-school children live in communities where the language of instruction in school is rarely, if ever, used at home. ”42 Mother-tongue instruction in the early years of school, progressing methodically then to a bilingual or multi-lingual instruction has proven to be an important feature for successful learning achievement.
43 Inferior materials and inadequate and ineffective instruction are thus two of the main barriers to children beginning their educational career on a ? rm footing and in a language they understand. to high-stakes testing, formative assessment has been shown to be valuable in improving student learning, yet very often teachers do not use it. 45 At the secondary level, there is often a lack of teachers to teach specialized and higher-level academic subjects, particularly in math and science. Due to an overall shortage of secondary teachers in Uganda for example, teachers are typically trained in two subject areas (i.e. math and science or geography and history).
Once they begin teaching however, teachers are often required to teach additional subjects in which they are unquali? ed, due to the lack of quali? ed teachers in particular subjects. 46 Taken together these elements often lead to a lack of trust by parents in the public school system. • Management. Good education management is essential in providing and supporting well-functioning education systems for young people. Developing countries often face a myriad of management dif?
culties, from unwieldy teacher payment systems, to limited information collection and management capabilities, to poor learning assessment processes. In many places, teachers’ pay is often late and, when it does arrive, is less than it should be due to leakages in the system. The phenomenon of “ghost teachers” is also widespread, where teachers who are on Higher Education Due to the increased focus on primary and secondary education in the past several years, the needs and challenges of higher education in the developing world have been largely overlooked.
There is now a greater focus on tertiary education systems in developing countries and recognition that higher education can be a key force for modernization, development and economic growth. 47 However, signi? cant barriers associated with achieving 12 BROOKE SHEARER WORKING PAPER SERIES an effective tertiary education system remain. These barriers will be discussed more in depth below and include distance and cost, the quality of the faculty, access to materials and resources, and academically unprepared students—a range of issues that technology has a potentially important role to play in addressing.
Democratic Republic of the Congo most faculty members are trained at overseas institutions, which could create issues of sustainability and strategic planning for the future especially given the growing scarcity of international scholarships and decreasing government support to expand graduate programs. 50 Improving the quality of faculty is made dif? cult, in part, due • Distance and cost. Due to their highly decentralized management system, most higher education institutions in developing countries are located in urban centers.
This makes it dif?cult for students in rural areas to participate in higher education programs, since relocation and/or travel is often quite expensive. Enrollment in tertiary institutions is very low; in Sri Lanka, enrollment stagnated at 2 percent of the school-age population due to a lack of government funding, among other things. Although tertiary education in the developing world costs much less than in the developed world—and is sometimes subsidized by the government through cost-sharing policies like in Tanzania—it is still substantially beyond the reach for many students.
48 Indirect costs contribute substantially to the expense of higher education: expensive textbooks and travel and the cost of using lab facilities or participating in extracurricular activities are often unexpected burdens. Lost income due to time spent outside the labor market is an additional indirect cost of higher education. • Quality of faculty. Although the quality of a tertiary institution’s faculty is integral to the overall quality of the institution itself, many faculty members in the developing world have little graduate or post-graduate level training.
Subject: Secondary school,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 15 October 2016
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