The Power of Edtech in Developing Countries
Edtech is really taking off in developing countries. Its growth has been stimulated by a mix of grassroots initiatives from local entrepreneurs in developing countries and aid from international organizations (such as the UNICEF Development Fund which has pledged $9 million to edtech initiatives). Here, we explore the ways in which edtech has the power to revolutionise education in developing nations and to vastly increase enrolment in education at primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
Developing countries are often characterised by a lack of high quality infrastructure. Poor quality roads and a dearth of reliable transport links can have a substantial negative impact on school attendance – and this includes both the attendance of pupils and of
Edtech surmounts these challenges by enabling learners to access online courses remotely. Poor transport infrastructure is thus no longer a barrier to learning. Moreover, the provision of free online courses along the MOOC model means that a lack of financial resources does not present a barrier to learning either. Theoretically at least, a student in a remote part of Sub-Saharan Africa could enrol for free in an online off-campus course at Harvard if they so desired.
The future is bright for edtech in developing countries as it provides a very real solution to the financial and infrastructure-related difficulties that learners in these countries often experience in their attempts to access education. Nevertheless, there are still several challenges to be met in order for edtech to achieve its maximum potential in the developing world.
One of the key challenges to m-learning and elearning is the lack of mobile phone and internet coverage. Though rates of mobile phone ownership in most developing countries are pretty high, access to online learning is often hampered by patchy broadband availability. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, full 3G and 4G coverage is not estimated to be available until after 2020. This threatens to exacerbate the gap in educational levels between developing and developed nations.
Overall, though, it is clear that edtech is a hugely beneficial resource for developing countries as it can provide high quality distance learning to students in remote areas who previously had little or no access to education. Are you an educator or entrepreneur? Maybe it’s time to turn your attentions to edtech in developing countries.