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Universal Primary Education and Computer Technology Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Wojciech Gryc, Canada Oct 26, 2003
Education , Technology , Educational Technology , Digital Divide   Opinions


Universal Primary Education and Computer Technology The United Nations Millennium Development Goals are ambitious and strive to raise the quality of life for people around the world by improving their health, education, environment, and other factors. The goals are plentiful, and some deal with bridging the technological divide that plagues the global society. In an age where information is being transferred around the world in mere seconds, it is important for all people to have the ability to access technology and informational resources. Two goals, seemingly different, work to bring computers and education to the poorest citizens of the world. Target 3, the first of the two goals, demands that all children be able to receive a primary education around the world, while the second, Target 18, states that all countries should reap the benefits of new technologies.

Coupled together, the targets work in synergy to bring computer technology to developing countries and to help nations ensure their children receive a primary education. To achieve either goal effectively, both must be strived for and achieved. For example, to allow a country to take advantage of new technology, it must have an educated workforce. On the other hand, the use of computers within classrooms can help children learn more and even start local and global endeavours of their own.

So far, benefits of information technology in many developed nations have revolutionized school classrooms and allow children to research topics and make connections like never before. Reading this article is a testament to the power of computers, as it is being displayed online and is dispensing information to the reader – imagine what it can do in the classrooms of developing nations!

Moreover, the melding of computer technology with universal primary education has already made an impact on children around the world. In 1995, for example, South Korea launched a program to revitalize its schools and help children learn about information technology. Currently, all schools have Internet access and 93% of children between the ages of 7 and 19 use the Internet; the country itself has a thriving education system and economy.

South Korea is a model that is being observed and even adopted by many nations, though most will take many years, if not decades, to achieve the same state. Within poor nations, such computer use can help residents increase their quality of life, especially if computer technology is incorporated into the education system. A prominent example is Deepalaya, a chain of schools in India that train children living in slums to use computers and increase their chances of finding employment.
A Colombian initiative, “Computadores para Educar,” collects privately donated computers and puts them into schools. Since its inception in 2000, it has collected just under 20,000 computers and helped more than 2,100 schools. Current estimates suggest that over 750,000 youth benefit from these computers. Moreover, developmentgoals.org, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals website, states that with 60 computers per 1000 people, Latin America and the Caribbean have the largest ratio of computers to people in the developing world. With such a strong correlation between education and information technology, it is no surprise that Latin America and the Caribbean have also seen the largest growth in the percentage of people receiving a primary education between 1990 and 2000 and are, in fact, ahead of schedule in achieving their goal!

However, not all countries and continents are experiencing the same success. New technologies being developed specifically to increase the amount of people with access to computer technology add hope. Two specific projects are the Brazilian “Computador Popular” and India’s “Simputer.” The former, a desktop computer that can be sold for $250, has the purpose of giving people access to the Internet and, through that, thousands upon thousands of sources of information. The latter is a handheld computer that looks similar to a Palm Pilot, runs on AAA batteries, and has the possibility to connect to the Internet, for $200. Keeping in mind that many poor people cannot afford such a price, the developers created a special memory card that allows a large group of people to share the Simputer, thereby allowing people to split costs.

If introduced and mass-marketed, such technology could have an unforeseen impact on developing nations and their level of education. Even now, with the help of donations or government programs, countries are increasing the level of education its youth grow up with and are, in effect, becoming more successful. By having Target 3 and Target 18 work together to improve education with technology, children around the world will be able to mature in better conditions and enjoy peaceful, happy lives.



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Wojciech Gryc

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anson guo | Nov 5th, 2003
I totally agree with what the writer wrote, the other developing countries need to use computers and other new technology to improve their educations because our world now is full of many new technologies and many years later, there will be more and more new technologies that relate to computers and the developing countries should use computers too because everythings are going to be relate to computers and the children are our future so they should start learning about computer now. Many developing countries has used computer and internet for education like Ghana and I hope that Target 3, the first of the two goals, that all children be able to receive a primary education around the world, while the second, Target 18, states that all countries should reap the benefits of new technologies will soon with accomplish.

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