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Volume 2, Issue 3 May/June 2000
6 Technology for Basic Education: A Luxury or a Necessity?
Wadi D. Haddad, Editor
If we perceive basic education only in terms of basic literacy, numeracy and rudimentary life skills, then
technology is a luxury. However, basic education for all in a modern world entails more than the conventional
recipe. The new economic and societal challenges force us to think of basic education as a learning activity,
anytime, anywhere, and for everyone. To achieve that, technology is a necessity.
9 9 9 9 A Vision for Basic Education in the New Century
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director, UNICEF
All children must have access to school and be able to stay there, in order to achieve basic education. There
must be good quality “second chance” education for adolescents and youth who have never been in school.
There should be a focus on the needs of those most disadvantaged and excluded from learning, both in and
out of school – girls, working children, children of ethnic minorities, and children affected by violence and
conflict, HIV/AIDS and disabilities.
1 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 Email to the Editor
Read what your colleagues have offered as feedback on previous issues of TechKnowLogia.
1 2 1 2 1 2 1 2 Basic Education for All: Global Report Card
Throughout this past decade, many countries have made concerted and significant efforts toward the goal of
basic education for all. The results constitute a mixed picture of many successes and as many obstacles.
This article provides an overview of the state of basic education across the globe.
This issue is co-sponsored by: UNICEF, EFA Forum, AED, and the CommonweaIth of Learning
The contents of this Issue do not necessarily reflect the policies or the views of the co-sponsors or their affiliates
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1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 Literacy, Technological Literacy and the Digital Divide
Daniel A. Wagner, Director and Professor, International Literacy Institute, University of Pennsylvania &
The changing standards of literacy and technological literacy will likely produce a situation in which a digital
divide will persist well into the future. However, in the area of information and communication technology use
and access, we can take steps that will narrow this gap, but only by paying special attention to literacy issues.
1 7 1 7 1 7 1 7 Multi-grade Schools and Technology
Laurence Wolff and Norma Garcia, Inter-American Development Bank
Multi-grade schools will not disappear but are essential for achieving basic education for all. There are proven
methodologies for making the multi-grade school a modern, progressive and effective vehicle for learning.
Existing and new technologies ought to be exploited to implement these methodologies.
1 9 1 9 1 9 1 9 TechKnowNews
Governor Would Give Every Student a Laptop ♦ A Virtual Revolution in Teaching ♦ First 'Digital Divide' Bill
Passes Senate ♦ Presentation of World View Information System for Basic Education NGOs in Africa and
South Asia ♦ A Bilingual Descriptive Database of 850 Education Projects in Africa, Now Accessible Online! ♦
Technology Critic Takes on Computers in School ♦ Internet Improves Kids' Attitude to School ♦ Children
Tutoring Seniors at Internet Skills
2 1 2 1 2 1 2 1 The Watering Hole: Creating Learning Communities with Computers
Mary Fontaine with Richard Fuchs, The LearnLink Project, Academy for Educational Development
Throughout the developing world, there is evidence that telecenters—a.k.a. Community Learning Centers—
may be starting to create a social context for learning in the post-industrial economy. If the conviviality,
sociability and cohesion of the "watering hole" can be brought to the business of learning, then the business
of education and development will have done its job.
2 5 2 5 2 5 2 5 Interactive Mathematics for Basic Education: The Venezuelan Experience with IRI
Nora Ghetea Jaegerman and Victor Vasquez R.
This article describes an interactive radio instruction program in Venezuela for mathematics at the lower
primary school level. Program accomplishments are summarized in the areas of production, implementation
and evaluation.
2 9 2 9 2 9 2 9 Ethiopia: Educational Radio and Television
Thomas D. Tilson, Chief of Party, USAID.BESO Project
Demissew Bekele, General Manager, Educational Media Agency, Ethiopia
Ethiopia is fortunate to have a well-established and integrated system for using radio and television to
support education based on over 30 years of experience. This article describes present radio and television
programs that support primary, secondary and non-formal education as well as teacher training. It also
highlights experience with digital radio.
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3 2 3 2 3 2 3 2 Education for All - The Mass Media Formula
David Walker and Gajaraj Dhanarajan, The Commonwealth of Learning
In order to empower disadvantaged groups as equal partners in development, the limitations of formal and
non-formal education are now being challenged. New ways to achieve mass education, that can be both
efficient and effective, are being sought. This article describes the track record of community radio, the
possibilities of going digital and the need for a new paradigm to reform broadcast licensing and regulating.
3 6 3 6 3 6 3 6 Computers for Children: From the Beaches of California to the Slums of India
Sonia Jurich
This article describes what happens when children encounter a computer for the first time. Do the children
immediately interact with the computer, as if "equipped" with innate instructions for its use? Do they learn
slowly, through trial and error? How far can they go without an adult's interference?
3 9 3 9 3 9 3 9 Status Report 1: Applying New Technologies in Basic Education
Hilary Perraton and Charlotte Creed, International Research Foundation for Open Learning
This article provides an overview of the introduction, use, effectiveness and cost of different technologies for
basic education worldwide.
4 3 4 3 4 3 4 3 Status Report 2: Textbook and Learning Materials: Today and Tomorrow
This article analyzes the importance of textbooks and instructional materials, and provides an overview of
their availability, quality and modes of provision. It also outlines future trends and offers recommendations
resulting from a worldwide survey.
4 7 4 7 4 7 4 7 Information Systems for Education Management
Kurt Moses, Vice President, Academy for Educational Development
This article describes a framework for the use of information technology to create an education information
system that meets the needs for information at three levels: policy, management and operations. The article
walks the reader through software that illustrates this framework.
5 3 5 3 5 3 5 3 South Africa: Teacher Training in the Sky
Claire Brown, Violet Sithole & Robert Hofmeyr, Shoma Education Foundation, South Africa
This article describes a model of leveraging digital satellite technology to enhance the professional
development of teachers, and outlines the positive and negative experiences in applying it in South Africa.
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5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 On the Move
Upcoming Events: Conference, Seminars, Exhibits, Training Courses, etc.
5 7 5 7 5 7 5 7 How to Evaluate Educational Software and Websites
Gregg B. Jackson, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Coordinator, George Washington University
There are approximately 20,000 educational software packages and many thousand educational websites
throughout the world. How can you decide what is good and what is a waste of time?
5 9 5 9 5 9 5 9 Recycling Computers: A Simple Solution for a Complex Problem
Sonia Jurich
This article describes ways by which outdated computers in government and business offices can be recycled
into schools. The issue, however, is that most computers that are being discarded no longer have software
installed, and newer software packages do not work on them. The article describes software that restores the
core functionality of old computers.
6 1 6 1 6 1 6 1 WorthWhileWebs
Gregg B. Jackson, Vishnu Karki, and Sole McKinnon, George Washington University
The World Wide Web now offers extensive resources that can be useful in basic education. This Issue lists a
wide range of sites that can be used by teachers or parents, and some that are intended to be used by the
learners themselves to supplement their other educational activities.
6 4 6 4 6 4 6 4 Virtual Presentations: Wasting No Time
Jelena Lewis
This article describes technologies that allow you to take your prepared materials and your notes on the
whiteboard and broadcast them over the web.
6 5 6 5 6 5 6 5 Tablets Are Back: Light and Fun
Rafael Chargel
A new series of digital devices are changing the ways we can produce information and keep the best of both
worlds: the soft touch of a pen, and the many resources of a computer. These devices allow us to write and
draw in traditional ways, sometimes using pen and paper, while creating digital copies of our notes and
drawings that can be stored, copied, faxed, e-mailed, printed, and modified.
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 Copying as You Go: Making Scanning Easier
Jelena Lewis
For teachers, presenters, and students, scanners offer an easy way to incorporate images into a presentation
and enliven an otherwise dry exchange of information. The article describes an array of portable and
handheld scanners with multiple functions.
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6 8 6 8 6 8 6 8 UNICEF and New Technologies
UNICEF launched two web sites; for youth and for teachers. UNICEF is also supporting Internet use for
open learning. At the same time, it will continue to explore low-cost, accessible alternatives for peoples
who cannot afford to pay for hi-tech resources, and who cannot access technology through using hi-
tech tools.
6 9 6 9 6 9 6 9 From Jomtien to Dakar and Beyond
Svein Osttveit, Executive Secretary of the Education for All Forum
The author describes the beginnings of the Education for All movement in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990,
the biggest stocktaking of education in history leading to the World Education Forum in Dakar in April
2000, the Dakar framework for Action and the role of technology.
7 1 7 1 7 1 7 1 Academy for Educational Development: Connecting People - Creating Change
Stephen Moseley, President, Academy for Educational Development
The Academy for Educational Development (AED) is an independent, nonprofit organization committed
to solving critical social problems in the United States and throughout the world through education,
research, training, social marketing, policy analysis, and innovative program design and management.
AED works at the frontiers of new thinking, new approaches, and new technologies.
7 2 7 2 7 2 7 2 The Commonwealth of Learning
What is the Commonwealth? What is the Commonwealth of learning? " Our long-term aim is that any learner,
anywhere in the Commonwealth, shall be able to study any distance-teaching program."
Editorial Calendar for Years 2000 and 20001
YEAR 2000
Access to
Information &
Basic Education
for All
Skill Formation Learning Never
Ends (Lifelong)
Support and
YEAR 2001
of Education
Science and
Math Education
Social Studies Early Childhood
Development and
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Wadi D. Haddad, Editor
T echnol ogy f or Basi c Educat i on:
A Luxury or a Necessi t y?
Basi c Educat i o n: I s I t f o r A l l ?
Ten years ago, I had the privilege to lead an interagency team
(UNESCO, UNICEF, UNDP and World Bank) that organ-
ized the World Conference on Education for All (EFA):
Meeting Basic Learning Needs, in Jomtien, Thailand. The
EFA Conference placed basic education on the development
agenda in a strong manner, consolidating a worldwide con-
sensus on the crucial importance of basic education for indi-
vidual, social, economic and national development. Opera-
tionally, it called for meeting basic learning needs for all by
universalizing access, promoting equity, focusing on learn-
ing, broadening the means and scope of basic education, en-
hancing the environment for learning, strengthening partner-
ships, developing a supporting policy context, mobilizing
resources and strengthening international solidarity. Since
then, other World Conferences, with equal force, injected
new items into the development agenda or reinforced exist-
ing ones: environment, population, human rights, children’s
welfare, women in development, and social development.
These initiatives did not crowd out “Education for All"; on
the contrary, invariably, EFA’s role was reinforced as a nec-
essary condition for the success of these other agenda items.
Ten years later, in April 26-28, 2000, world education and
development leaders met again to
• ponder carefully and candidly the attainment record of
the EFA goal, and draw lessons from constraints, fail-
ures and successes;
• critically assess the future economic, social, political and
intellectual environment of EFA, with its challenges and
opportunities, and
• revisit the Framework for Action for EFA in light of the
expected challenges and the changing context, and retool
strategies and measures, to give Education for All a new
impetus politically, strategically and operationally.
Unf i ni shed Busi ness
The "Jomtien decade" witnessed significant progress in the
expansion and improvement of basic education worldwide
and dramatic changes in the policies of development organi-
zations. Yet, despite the progress, we are far from the attain-
ment of the EFA goal and much remains to be done:
• Over 100 million primary school age children remain
out of school, of whom 60% are girls;
• About 875 million youths and adults are illiterate, 63%
of whom are women;
• The emphasis on early childhood development is not
commensurate with the crucial nature of this life stage;
• The quality of learning is still low in many countries,
and the capacity to define and monitor this quality is
lacking in most developing countries;
• Inequities continue to persist by gender, region and so-
cio-economic backgrounds;
• The means and scope of education continue to be narrow
and confined to historical models of delivery, and the
use of other channels continues to be ad hoc and mar-
• The increase in quantitative and qualitative demand for
basic learning needs is not matched by commensurate
increase in resources.
The backlog in meeting the target of Basic Education for All,
coupled with the new demands for education, places a formi-
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…if we look at basic edu-
cation only in terms of ba-
sic literacy, numeracy and
rudimentary life skills, then
technology is a luxury.
dable burden on countries. A linear projection of past prog-
ress indicates that business as usual will not achieve desired
targets within reasonable time. This may place some coun-
tries at risk of not developing their human capital to a thresh-
old necessary for poverty alleviation, and economic and so-
cial development.
This dramatic challenge poses serious questions for educa-
tion and training planning and forces a rethinking in the way
education is perceived, managed and delivered. The haunting
issue is how to provide high quality basic education to all
children, youth and adults within prevalent constraints --
physical, human and financial.
T echno l o gy f o r W hat
Basi c Educat i o n
Certainly, information and
communication technologies
have the potential to
overcome geographical
distances, empower teachers
and learners through information,
and bring the world into the classroom
by the touch of buttons or the glare of a screen.
But if we look at basic education only in terms of basic liter-
acy, numeracy and rudimentary life skills, then technology is
a luxury. However, basic education for all in a modern world
entails more than the conventional recipe. The new economic
and societal challenges force us to think of basic education as
a learning activity, anytime, anywhere, and for everyone.
To achieve that, technology is a necessity and not a luxury.
1. Basic Education As A Learning Activity
“Whether or not expanded educational opportunities will
translate into meaningful development – for an individual or
for society – depends ultimately on whether people actually
learn as a result of those opportunities, i.e., whether they
incorporate useful knowledge, reasoning ability, skills, and
values.” (Jomtien Declaration, article 4). Clearly this has
implications for how success is measured. High enrollments
and efficient student flow, while necessary, do not indicate
by themselves whether a country is achieving an acceptable
level of education. Actual learning achievement is the real
measure. But how does learning take place? The importance
of this question for education is evident, but the answer has
been sketchy. Only recent research in cognitive and neuro-
science, however, has begun to offer solid information on
how people do learn. Thanks to the latest MRI technology,
we can practically observe how some learning takes place.
The implications of brain-based research are profound. First
of all, it places a spotlight on the importance of early child-
hood education. Second, it reveals that some learning prob-
lems may be solved through clinical intervention in the fu-
ture. Third, it points to the need to move away from educa-
tion as it is presently constructed: individual, isolated-
learning, extracted from context, focused on superficial (rote)
learning. Brain growth and development dictate that educa-
tion be structured to allow children to make sense of their
environments and problem-solve, and learn through social
activities that have meaning to them in an environment that
is secure and challenging. It is these very collaborative
problem-solving skills that workers in today’s society need
to develop.
Drastic changes in national and world economic processes
and skill requirements coupled with dramatic growth
in knowledge necessary for citizenship and
workplace, require a shift in objectives.
The need is for an education that
enhances the ability of learners to
access, assess, adopt and apply
knowledge, to think
independently, exercise
appropriate judgment and
collaborate with others to make
sense of new situations. The objective
of education is no longer simply to convey a
body of knowledge, but to teach how to learn, problem-
solve and synthesize the old with the new. In addition, soci-
ety is looking to the school of the future to produce good
citizens. To meet these objectives, education must be engag-
ing and authentic: Engaging in the sense that students are
involved in the learning process, and not viewed simply “re-
ceptacles” for knowledge; authentic in the sense that what
they are learning has meaning to them as individuals, mem-
bers of society, and workers in the market place.
2. Basic Education Anytime
Learning is not restricted to the time spent in school. It be-
gins at birth, occurs in and outside educational institutions
and continues thereafter. So basic education for all requires a
system that provides opportunities for lifelong learning to
help individuals, families, work-places and communities to
adapt to economic and societal changes, and to maintain a
door open to those who have dropped out along the way.
Learning throughout life is one of the keys to the twenty-first
century. There are a number of reasons for this:
• Rapid technological change and growth in knowledge
and information will require constant learning;
• As society evolves, we are unlikely to continue the pres-
ent “life-cycle” pattern of prolonged education at the be-
ginning of life, and an extended retirement period at the
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With the proper har-
nessing of information
and communication
technologies, the goal of
basic education for all,
anywhere and anytime,
is within our reach.
• Lifelong learning provides opportunities for those who
are unemployed to re-enter the workforce; and
• Given the importance of the learning foundations and of
continued learning in knowledge-intensive societies
characterized by rapid change, those who miss out – ei-
ther initially or later on – suffer effective exclusion.
3. Basic Education for Everyone
The biggest challenge is to reach individuals and groups that
are historically under-served: girls and women that
face cultural and physical obstacles to come
to educational institutions, rural
populations that are too thinly
dispersed to populate "regular"
schools with reasonable class
sizes, adult workers that have no
time to attend regular courses,
and persons who cannot come to
learning centers because of
security hazards. Here we need to
be innovative and think "outside
the box." In some situations, we may
need to go "over" the hurdles and
provide education where these potential
learners are - anywhere.
W hat T echno l o gi es?
Information and communication technologies offer a great
potential to provide this kind of basic learning, anytime,
anywhere to everyone. The crucial question is what technol-
ogy to use for what purposes and under what conditions.
The possibilities and mutations are many - from the simple to
the complex and from the individual to the mass scale. This
Issue of TechKnowLogia alone introduces a number of tech-
nologies that can enhance classroom teaching/learning. Then
there is the radio, a very underutilized technology that is
widely available, inexpensive and educationally effective. It
can provide educational opportunities anywhere, anytime.
Television is another powerful communications medium that,
in half a century, has expanded to many remote villages
across the globe. It can simulate reality, compress activities
and cut across borders and cultures. Finally, is the Internet
with its vast potential for teachers and learners alike. This
Issue of the Journal provides a sample of websites for the
advancement of basic education.
Radio, television and the Internet are fast becoming one de-
livery medium. They can be accessed in schools, at home, or
at the workplace. Communities that cannot afford developing
programs for them may benefit from those developed in
other communities or by a central educational agency.
The Internet poses a problem of affordability in low-income
communities. One solution has been the establishment of
Community Learning Centers, featured in every issue
of TechKnowLogia. These centers, many of
which are run by the communities
themselves, aim to enhance basic
education, train teachers, develop
local businesses, strengthen
municipal administration and civil
society organizations, and provide
health care information for popu-
lations in small villages. These
centers provide connectivity and
computers, while emphasizing the
learning functions of the
communication technologies that are
made available.
I nt o t he Fut ur e…
Education for All is critically important. Attaining it is a hu-
man need, a societal must and an economic necessity. With
the proper harnessing of information and communication
technologies, the goal of basic education for all, anywhere
and anytime, is within our reach. But the reality is that no
technology can fix bad educational philosophy and practice,
nor can it compensate for a lack of political commitment.
The decisions about what to use, how and when, are political
and educational decisions that must be made consciously and
daringly. As we look into the future, we should keep in mind
that educational technologies will be further developing in a
phenomenal manner and their costs will be dropping drasti-
cally. They are not the panacea for education, but can we
attain basic education for all without them? In the poor
countries, and under present conditions, they may not be af-
fordable, but can poor countries afford not to fully use them?
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Carol Bellamy
Executive Director, UNICEF
A Vi s i on f or Bas i c Educat i on i n t he New Cent ur y A Vi s i on f or Bas i c Educat i on i n t he New Cent ur y A Vi s i on f or Bas i c Educat i on i n t he New Cent ur y A Vi s i on f or Bas i c Educat i on i n t he New Cent ur y
Basic education for all (EFA) has become a universal
objective. To ensure its fulfillment, I see six crucial and
complementary elements.
First, all young children must be ready for school and for
life – that from birth they are nurtured in safe, caring, and
gender-sensitive environments that help them become
healthy, alert, secure, and able to learn. Nations must
promote more comprehensive policies and programs to meet
the health, nutrition, and development needs of young
children, especially the most excluded.
Secondly, the right of every child to basic education must
be fulfilled. All children must have access to school and be
able to stay there, in order to achieve basic education. There
must be good quality “second chance” education for
adolescents and youth who have never been in school. There
should be a focus on the needs of those most disadvantaged
and excluded from learning, both in and out of school – girls,
working children, children of ethnic minorities, and children
affected by violence and conflict, HIV/AIDS and disabilities.
Every school and community must know how to seek out
excluded and at-risk children and ensure they attend school.
Where needed, more flexible, “non-formal,” targeted
approaches to education must be developed. Getting the last
5-30% of children into school is likely to take more
innovation and be more expensive than the first 70-95%. The
250 million children presently caught up in child labor must
be provided with meaningful and affordable quality
educational opportunities.
Thirdly, we must put a special focus on girls. It is a global
shame that two thirds of those children out of school are
girls. If this problem is not addressed, Education for All will
surely fail. Girls must have full and equal access to, and
achievement in, basic and secondary education. Denying
girls basic education is a massive violation of human rights.
Accelerated basic education must be strengthened, and
additional education opportunities provided for adolescent
girls. All forms of gender discrimination in education
systems and schools, in curricula and learning materials, and
in teaching and learning processes must be eliminated.
Schools must be located where girls can reach them safely,
and every school must have separate and functioning latrines
for girls and boys. The UN Girls’ Education Initiative
launched by the Secretary General in his Millenium Report is
an all-out global effort to crack the major impediment to
EFA. UNICEF is pleased to be playing a key leadership role
in this Initiative.
Quality basic education is a necessity. Learners must be
healthy, well nourished, and ready to learn – where
necessary, through childcare and pre-school programs of
good quality. Systems must provide relevant curricula and
learning materials which are gender-sensitive and in
languages that teachers and children can understand, for
literacy, numeracy, and education content on human rights,
gender equality, health, HIV/AIDS, and peace. Teachers
must be well trained to use flexible classroom arrangements
and child-centered methods, so that children can participate
actively and think critically.
Schools must have adequate hygiene and sanitation facilities,
and school policies that guarantee physical and mental
health, safety, and security. Above all, children must end up
learning what they are meant to, and need to, learn. Schools
must have practical ways to assess these results and report on
them for all to see: parents and communities, as well as
national governments. Both new and old technologies, such
as Internet connectivity and radio instruction, must be used
more creatively to reduce, rather than increase, disparities in
access to quality learning. Government policies must ensure
affordable access for all young learners, wherever they live.
In situations of conflict, violence, and instability, learning
must be started quickly. UNICEF has shown in many
countries, most recently in Kosovo, East Timor and
Mozambique, that this requires the ability to rapidly assess
educational and psycho-social needs of children, provide
essential supplies and materials, promote local governance
and partnerships in restoring education, and support relevant
and rapid curriculum and teacher development.
Finally, and most urgently, children affected by
HIV/AIDS deserve immediate attention. Systems must
ensure creative and dynamic life-skills programs that both
transmit information and change behavior, so that education
has an impact on the pandemic – on decreasing the rate of the
transmission of the virus. Education systems must also act to
decrease the impact of the pandemic on education – on the
demand for, supply of, and quality of education – and on
educational systems, schools, and learning. HIV/AIDS has
an especially great impact on the education and wellbeing of
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Is the Divide Digital? March/April 2000
I have read with interest your comments in TechKnowlogia
and in particular the reference you make to the need for
changes in educational behavior. I recently attended the
GKII conference in Malaysia and was disappointed that there
was less attention given to this subject than I had hoped.
However, I am pleased to say that the need for "knowledge-
based education" was included in the draft action plan, which
emerged from the Action Summit.
United Kingdom
Is Virtual Education for Real? Issues of Quality
and Accreditation Jan/Feb 2000
Having read your article with extreme interest I would like to
present my comments on this subject.
I believe that there are three specific areas to be accredited,
each presenting increasingly bigger challenges. These are;
the accreditation of the actual delivery mechanisms, the ac-
creditation of the materials used and the accreditation of the
outcomes. This I see to be the 'Holy Grail'.
As a manifestation of the increase in electronic and open
distance learning in Europe (and worldwide), I consider that
there should be a single, independent international body that
accredits and is the recognized professional body that offers
a model of best practice for Electronic and Open Distance
Learning. As electronic distance learning is becoming the
common form of educational delivery for training, in par-
ticular vocational training, throughout Europe and world-
wide, it is essential that there is a recognized standard for the
delivery of such training. This would provide the beneficiar-
ies with the reassurance of quality and it would also serve to
ensure that the providers maintain their standards of practice.
It is such true public accountability that provides user credi-
The Objective
The objective of the such a body would be to ensure that all
electronic and open distance learning delivery reaches an
international credible standard that is both acceptable and
beneficial for the client.
The Accreditation Criteria
I believe the following criteria form the basis of the accredi-
tation process: the tutoring and the quality of the delivery
including assessment and moderation procedures; the quality
of the materials and the curriculum; the electronic manage-
ment of the system; the pastoral and academic support of the
client; and the fiscal and administrative capacity of the pro-
vider. I have researched this field quite extensively and have
much more information on the above criteria and how this
can be measured. I see that this body would have to be sup-
ported by an advisory panel, comprising of industry, educa-
tion and government experts, to oversee the whole operation.
Of course there would be subsidiary committees responsible
for specific technical areas. I hope that the above comments
are of interest to you and I look forward to any response that
you or your colleagues may have.
London, UK
General Feedback
After reading the first few issues of TechKnowLogia, I want
to congratulate you on your site and journal. Our Director,
Mark Schneider, recently announced that Peace Corps will
take advantage of the information technology skills that our
7500 Volunteers have brought with them to assignments in
all sectors in 77 countries. Peace Corps has begun to inte-
grate ICTs into all of its projects. TechKnowLogia will be a
particularly valuable tool for us in this effort as a source of
information, ideas, resources, and reference to potential part-
ners. Best wishes for continued success.
Kelly Morris
Manager, Peace Corps
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I appreciate the efforts and believe that I am going to be
benefited by it. My heartiest congratulations on this effort.
Academic Fellow
Indian Institute of Management, India
At St. Jude we are in process of developing a program in
northeast Brazil to establish adequate treatment for children
with cancer. We are using a combination of advanced com-
puter technologies (telemedicine) for education and would
like to use cheaper strategies to deploy information in the
poorer areas. Many of your journal articles contain pertinent
information on these issues.
Director, International Outreach Program
Associate Member, Department of Hematology/Oncology
Thank you very much. It is such an interesting site, espe-
cially useful for my studies (MEd in IT).
Centre for the Advancement of
Science and Mathematics Education
South Africa
Let me congratulate you for bringing out this excellent Jour-
nal for the Advancement of Knowledge and Learning. I came
to know of it very recently through a list server notification
and I am amazed by the collection of articles. I think a jour-
nal in this area focusing on Knowledge Networking and
Learning has a niche of its own.
I am sure it will be very useful for development practitioners
and organizations, especially those in the developing world
to have access to the updated research and models being de-
veloped. I would be happy to see more developing world
case studies in it.
Program Office
Sustainable Development Networking Programme
T Te ec c h hK K n no ow w L Lo og gi i a a™ ™
Published by
Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
In collaboration with
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Or-
ganization (UNESCO )
Organization for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD )
Wadi D. Haddad, President, Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
Thomas Alexander, Director, Employment, Labour and
Social Affairs Directorate, OECD
Gajaraj Dhanarajan, President & CEO,
The Commonwealth of Learning
Dee Dickenson, CEO, New Horizons for Learning
Alexandra Draxler, Director, Task force on Education for
the Twenty-first Century (UNESCO)
Jacques Hallak, Director, Int'l Bureau of Education
Pedro Paulo Poppovic, Secretary of Distance Education,
Federal Ministry of Education, Brazil
Nicholas Veliotes, President Emeritus,
Association of American Publishers
Joanne Capper, Sr. Education Specialist, World Bank
Claudio Castro, Chief Education Adviser, IDB
Dennis Foote, Director, LearnLinks, AED
Gregg Jackson, Assoc. Prof., George Washington Univ.
James Johnson, Deputy Director, GIIC
Frank Method, Dir., Washington Office, UNESCO
Laurence Wolff, Sr. Consultant, IDB
Jarl Bengtsson, Head, CERI, OEDC
Sonia Jurich, Consultant
Glenn Kleiman, VP, Education Development Center
Dan Wagner, Director, International Literacy Institute
Sandra Semaan
Knowledge Enterprise, Inc.
P.O. Box 3027
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Fax: 703-242-2279
This issue is co-sponsored by:
EFA Forum
Commonwealth of Learning
! !! ! 12 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Global Report Card
There is a universal recognition of the critical importance of education that meets the basic learning needs
of all citizens: children, youth and adults. Throughout this past decade, many countries have made
concerted and significant efforts toward the goal of basic education for all. The results constitute a mixed
picture of many successes and as many obstacles. This article provides an overview of the state of basic
education across the globe. (Source: International Consultative Forum on Education for All (the EFA
Forum), Unesco, Paris. More is available at the website: www2.unesco.org/wef).
Overall, access to basic education has increased for both
children and adults, but illiteracy rates are still too high.
• About 104 million children worldwide were enrolled in
pre-school in 1998, a 5 percent increase from a decade
earlier. Pre-school enrollment figures vary from close to
100 percent in Bermuda, Malaysia, Belgium and Sweden
to 2 percent or less in countries struggling with war and
economic crisis.
• In Asia, the number of kindergartens and nurseries
increased by 25 percent in the past decade.
• In the Caribbean, 80.3 percent of 3- to 5-year-olds were
preschoolers in 1997.
• Although most early childhood programs in Latin
America are found in middle-class, urban areas,
innovative programs are geared toward economically
deprived groups; for instance, the Wawa Wasi, in Peru
trains local women to care for children at home, and has
reached over 700,000 children.
Primary Education:
• In 1990, 599 million children were in school. In 1998,
this number rose to 681 million.
• Since 1990, about 10 million more children go to school
every year, which is nearly double the 1980-90 average.
In addition to Western Europe and the United States,
East Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean
are now close to achieving universal primary education.
• In Africa, countries such as Cape Verde, Malawi,
Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe have achieved
primary enrollment rates of 90 percent or more. Uganda
has more than doubled its enrollment in two years.
• School enrollment in Asia has outpaced the region’s
population growth rate and outdistanced the rest of the
world. China and Indonesia are close to achieving full
primary school enrollment. Bangladesh doubled its
education budget with a resulting 19 percent increase in
primary school enrollment.
• However, dropout rates are still very high. A quarter of
the 96 million pupils who entered school for the first
time in 1995 is likely to abandon schooling before grade
5. In South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and
Sub-Saharan Africa, less than three out of four children
reach Grade 5. In many countries, less than half of the
children will complete basic education and many will
drop out at the end of the second grade.
Adult Education:
• From 1970 to 1998, the number of literate adults
increased from 1.5 billion to 3.3 billion. Currently, the
overall adult literacy rate is 85 percent for men and 74
percent for women.
• The illiteracy rate for young adults between 15 to 24
year-old has declined to 13 percent.
• However, at least 875 million adults remain illiterate, of
which 63.8 percent are women (the same proportion as
10 years ago).
! !! ! 13 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Despite significant progress, many disparities are still
found, even in developed countries, particularly in relation
to women, ethnic minorities and people in poor, rural and
remote communities.
• Latin America is employing technology to reach isolated
areas and indigenous populations. Brazil and Mexico are
leaders in the educational use of television, while
Guatemala and Ecuador use mostly the radio.
• Multigrade teaching is another technology that has been
employed with considerable success to educate children
in poor and remote areas. The Escuela Nueva, in
Colombia, is a model that is being replicated in many
countries, including Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, and the
Philippines. In this model, students progress at their
own pace and can drop out temporarily, if necessary (to
help in the harvest, for instance), without repeating
grades. (see Multigrade Schools and Technology article
in this issue of TechKnowLogia.)
• An issue of major concern for countries worldwide is the
gender gap. Forty-four million more girls were attending
school in 1998 compared to 1990, and in Latin America,
the gender gap is almost a thing of the past. However,
girls make 60 percent of the world’s school-aged
children who are not in school.
• Many African countries introduced policies supporting
education for women. For instance, Benin exempts girls
in rural areas from paying school fees and Eritrea has
trained 300 female teachers to increase girls’ enrollment.
Malawi has eliminated school fees for girls and
abolished compulsory uniforms. Guinea raised the
marriage age and made it an offence for male teachers to
harass female pupils.
• To overcome traditional beliefs and attitudes that
interfere with girls’ education, some countries are also
developing community-based campaigns. For instance,
Tanzania established an initiative to help girls speak out
about their problems and find solutions to overcome
obstacles to their social development. A rural
community-based project in Mali used riddles, rhymes
and the radio to change long-held attitudes toward girls
and women and encourage the community to send girls
to school. The campaign almost doubled the enrollment
of girls in school.
In the past decade, the quality of education was given less
attention, while countries struggled to universalize basic
education. Now, quality is coming to the center stage.
• Many countries are prioritizing issues of quality,
focusing on curriculum reform, teacher training,
textbook revision and monitoring learning achievement.
For instance, in India, where school enrollment has
reached 71 percent, the District Primary Education
Program has decentralized schools, increased
community involvement, raised teachers’ salaries and
equipped classrooms.
• Poorly prepared teachers are one of the main causes of
low-quality education. After achieving 96 percent
primary school enrollment, Brazil is concentrating
efforts on improving the quality of teachers (about half
of the 1.5 million teachers in state primary schools in
Brazil have a college degree).
• Improving the educational environment is another area
of concern. A UNESCO/UNICEF study in fourteen
least developed countries in Asia and Africa found that
between 35 and 90 percent of schools needed repairing
or rebuilding. Many had no furniture or running water,
and the majority had few, and outdated educational
• An effort is also being made to increase support for
education by making it more meaningful to the
population. Community learning centers and curriculum
re-evaluation are part of this movement to make
education more relevant to local needs.
• Globally, about 63 percent of the cost of education come
from governmental budgets, 35 percent from parents,
communities, the private sector and non-governmental
organizations, and 2 percent from overseas aid
programs. However, early childhood education is
mostly financed by community and non-government
• Multilateral commitments to education rose from $ 1
billion in 1990 to nearly $2 billion in 1994, falling back
to $1.3 billion in 1998.
• Although education budgets may have increased, total
national budgets increased at a faster rate. In many
countries, rising inflation and social crises have
hampered the ability of governments to invest in
education. Indeed, poverty is the most important single
factor explaining failure or inability to meet educational
target goals set by governments.
• By allocating close to 6 percent of their gross national
product to education, Bangladesh, Brazil and Egypt have
made striking progress and proved that Education for All
is an achievable goal that requires strong political
! !! ! 14 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Technol ogi cal Li teracy
and the Di gi t al Di vi de Di gi t al Di vi de Di gi t al Di vi de Di gi t al Di vi de
Daniel A. Wagner
Director and Professor, International Literacy Institute (ILI)
University of Pennsylvania & UNESCO
The Li t eracy Di vi de The Li t eracy Di vi de The Li t eracy Di vi de The Li t eracy Di vi de
The United Nations estimates that there are one billion illiter-
ate adults in the world today (about one-quarter of the
world’s adult population), the vast majority of whom are
located in the poorest half of the world. Furthermore, recent
surveys suggest that this situation is even more serious than
previously believed. Industrialized (OECD) countries now
admit to having very serious problems of their own in liter-
acy and basic skills, with up to 25% of adults considered to
be lacking the basic skills needed to function effectively in
the workforce (see OECD/Statistics Canada, 1995; Tuijnman
et al., 1997).
Of course, we should quickly note that these two statistics are
a result of changing standards and definitions for literacy that
have taken place over recent decades. Indeed, if the OECD
standard for literacy were used to measure literacy in devel-
oping countries, the number of adult illiterates in developing
countries would likely go up by at least two or three fold.
This seems to be the case, in great measure, due to the often
poor quality of primary schooling in many developing coun-
tries (Wagner, 2000).
Techno l o gi cal Li t eracy Techno l o gi cal Li t eracy Techno l o gi cal Li t eracy Techno l o gi cal Li t eracy
Clearly, the problem of inadequate literacy remains a sur-
prisingly large and pressing issue around the world. As we
move into the information age, many policy makers have
been raising the issue of individual standards for knowledge
of information and communications technologies (ICT) –
what is often called “technological literacy.” Interestingly, no
country appears to have on record exactly what technological
literacy really means, probably due to the rapidly changing
nature of ICT developments across the globe.
We know also that educational and literacy levels play an
important role in the likelihood that a person will own a
computer or be linked to the Internet. This has led to the
popularization of the notion of the “digital divide” – a gap
that separates the “haves” and “have-nots,” irrespective of
country. Consider recent statistics in the US (U.S. Dept. of
Commerce, 1999):
• 61.6% of those with college degrees now use the Inter-
net, in contrast to only 6.6% of those with an elementary
school education.
• At home, those with a college degree or higher are over
eight times more likely to have a computer than the least
educated and nearly sixteen times more likely to have
home Internet access.
• The "digital divide" for Internet use between those at
highest and lowest education levels widened by 25%
from 1997 to 1998.
• Those with college degrees or higher are ten times more
likely to have Internet access at work as persons with
only some high school education.
While data on Internet use is changing rapidly, the best avail-
able evidence suggests that Americans with less education -
those who might benefit most from the Internet's educational
value - are falling further behind in digital access.
It is fair to say that the “digital divide” is a global phenome-
! !! ! 15 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
non. In industrialized countries, the knowledge economy,
powered by the Internet and e-commerce, has become a key
driver of growth and productivity, leading to new levels of
prosperity. Yet, at the same time, a global digital divide is
growing, such that the poor and disadvantaged peoples of
both industrialized and developing countries are falling fur-
ther and further behind in education, information technology,
and economic and social development.
Bri dgi ng t he Gap Bri dgi ng t he Gap Bri dgi ng t he Gap Bri dgi ng t he Gap
To bridge this technological and education gap will not be
easy. In the developing world, the disadvantaged in-school
and out-of-school youth and adults are actually composed of
many diverse groups, such as women, ethnic and linguistic
minorities, refugees and migrants. This diversity is one of the
most important features in understanding why narrowly fo-
cused, middle-class oriented, and “one size fits all” education
programs - especially when complex technology is intro-
duced - have often met with poor
results and lost resources. Indeed,
even the current dominance of the
English language on the WWW
has had, as a consequence, an
exclusionary aspect to it.
In the richer half of the world’s
countries today, it is not un-
common to find initiatives in
education that involve ICTs in
primary, secondary and tertiary
(university) education. Yet, in the
poor countries of the world
(containing about 65% of the
world’s population), relatively
little has been attempted in this
regard, and almost nothing for the
most disadvantaged populations in these countries. This was
one of the primary conclusions of the International Roundta-
ble on The Lifelong Learning and New Technologies Gap:
Reaching the Disadvantaged, held in Philadelphia in Decem-
ber 1999, which was co-sponsored by the University of
Pennsylvania (National Center on Adult Learning
[NCAL]/ILI), OECD, UNESCO, U.S. Department of Educa-
tion, and IBM Corporation.
Another challenge from the December 1999 International
Roundtable concerned how to avoid the inevitable problems
and costs associated with the integration of emerging and
changing technologies into educational programs and proc-
esses that are practical on the ground, especially in impover-
ished settings. Literacy programs, in particular, are suscepti-
ble to such problems, as this is an area which has been con-
tinuously under-funded, with relatively little professional
development and a poor technological infrastructure. Recent
advances in the application of new technologies for youth
non-formal education and adult literacy are beginning to ap-
pear. Clearly, without basic literacy skills, disadvantaged
populations will have major difficulties in acquiring and
utilizing the technological literacy skills needed for the new
knowledge economy.
Pro m i si ng I ni t i at i ves Pro m i si ng I ni t i at i ves Pro m i si ng I ni t i at i ves Pro m i si ng I ni t i at i ves
In recent years, some promising initiatives have begun to
address literacy and technology gaps, especially in industri-
alized countries (Wagner & Hopey, 1999). In the U.S. for
example, with federal education support, NCAL is working
in partnership with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)
and Kentucky Educational Television, in the LiteracyLink
project, to create resources for American adults who wish a
second chance to complete their high school diploma without
having to set foot again in a classroom. Materials are being
developed that will assist learners in
preparing for the GED (U.S. high
school equivalency diploma).
In addition, NCAL has been developing
a staff training and development
program for adult educators who wish
to improve their instruction
competencies in this domain. As of
1998, thousands of teachers across the
United States have begun to utilize this
system with an electronic community of
teachers, on-line workshops, pre-
evaluated websites, and a database of
Internet-based lesson plans. This system
is designed to provide teachers with
specially tailored online access to a
wide assortment of existing literacy
resources. A series of live satellite-based videoconferences
(via PBS) is also provided to an average of 20,000 teachers
and administrators annually.
LiteracyLink is currently in development, and research to
better understand the impact of Internet-based technology on
adult learning and literacy through distance education has
just begun. Four general lines of research are being pursued:
(1) What are the differences in literacy skill acquisition be-
tween those adult learners who use the online materials and
practice exams and those who do not? (2) Does the use of
online assessment make any difference in learning literacy
skills? (3) What are the differences in the effective use of the
online resources by students and by teachers that are attribut-
able to particular instructional environments, such as library
workstations, the workplace, or classroom instruction? and
(4) What is the relationship of online resources and video to
! !! ! 16 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
learning, i.e., how does the use of video in conjunction with
online activities affect learning?
LiteracyLink is one of the first and most comprehensive ini-
tiatives to harness the power of the Internet to provide in-
struction “on-demand” to adult learners, as well as commu-
nities, libraries, schools, and homes. Through this initiative,
adult learners in the U.S. will have access to the widest range
of relevant quality materials ever made available. Whether
and how adult learners can take advantage of this system
outside of the U.S. (there are no particular technical barriers
except access to the Internet itself) remains to be explored.
W hat A bo ut Devel o pi ng Co unt ri es? W hat A bo ut Devel o pi ng Co unt ri es? W hat A bo ut Devel o pi ng Co unt ri es? W hat A bo ut Devel o pi ng Co unt ri es?
In developing countries, beyond issues of cost (which are
declining rapidly), the benefits of ICT are actually rather well
suited for coping with the problems of basic literacy and
technological literacy. First, poor people in developing coun-
tries (and many in industrialized countries as well) tend to
live in dispersed geographical contexts and are comprised of
diverse populations of youth and adult learners. Second, there
is limited and thinly distributed professional expertise in
terms of teachers. And, third, there is a need to connect
learners and instructors interactively in an asynchronous
manner that takes advantage of learners’ availability outside
of the classroom.
Thus, a focus on the professional development and training
of teachers in developing countries (in a manner similar to
what NCAL is doing in the U.S.) provides a relevant locus
for this kind of effort, assuming the cost constraints can be
met. Teachers may be become “intermediaries” for bridging
the digital divide for the tens of millions of low-literate or
illiterate youth and young adults who are in school or are in
non-formal education programs in developing countries.
Teacher training resources can be delivered through existing
training colleges, and would comprise CD-ROM based mate-
rials, collaboration technology for sharing materials, pupil
training resources, and greater culturally appropriate and
multi-lingual content.
To achieve this broad aim, and with an eye on both literacy
and technological literacy skills, a number of basic principles
should guide future activities to bridge the digital divide in
developing countries:
• Making sure that learning, rather than hardware, is at the
center of any initiative on the digital divide;
• Ensuring a consumer-oriented and context/culture-
sensitive approach that will maintain motivation and in-
• Taking advantage of private sector ICT advances; and
• Maintaining focus on the poor and disadvantaged, rather
than just on communities that only want ‘more’ technol-
In sum, the changing standards of literacy and technological
literacy will likely produce a situation in which a digital di-
vide will persist well into the future. There will always be, as
there always has been, a gap between the rich and poor.
However, in the area of ICT use and access, we can take
steps that will narrow this gap rather than widening it, but
only by paying special attention to literacy issues that can
either hinder or help more people in gaining a foothold to-
wards an increasingly technological future.
Ref er ences: Ref er ences: Ref er ences: Ref er ences:
! OECD/Statistics Canada (1995). Literacy, economy and
society. Paris: OECD.
! Tuijnman, A., Kirsch, I. & Wagner, D. A., (Eds.).
(1997) Adult basic skills: Innovations in measurement
and policy analysis. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
! U.S. Department of Commerce/NTIA. (1999). Fall
through the Net: Defining the Digital Divide. A Report
on the Telecommunications and Information Technology
Gap in America. Washington, D.C.: author.
! Wagner, D. A. (2000). Global thematic study on literacy
and adult education. Paper prepared for the World Edu-
cation Forum, Dakar, Senegal.
! Wagner, D. A. & Hopey, C. H. (1999). Literacy, elec-
tronic networking and the Internet. In Wagner, D. A.,
Venezky, R.L., & Street, B.L., (Eds.). Literacy: An In-
ternational Handbook. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

• Author contact: Email: wagner@literacy.upenn.edu ILI website: http://www.literacyonline.org
! 17 ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Schools and Technology
Laurence Wolff and Norma Garcia
Inter-American Development Bank
The Current Status of Multi- Grade
Schools in the Developing World
Multi-grade schools, defined as schools where one teacher
teaches two or more grades, are common in rural areas
throughout the world. In Peru, for example, there are ap-
proximately 21,500 primary multi-grade schools, 95% of
which are located in rural areas. 89% of the rural schools
are multi-grade schools, and 41,000 teachers, or 69% of the
total rural teaching force, teach in rural primary schools with
multi-grade classrooms. In Sri Lanka, around 1,250 schools
out of the 10,120 schools in the country have less than three
teachers. Vietnam has 2,162 multi-grade schools that com-
bine 2, 3, 4, or 5 different levels in a single classroom.

The unfortunate reality is that these schools form the most
neglected part of the education system. For the most part,
they are located in isolated, low-income rural areas, and gen-
erally have untrained teachers. The few trained teachers usu-
ally understand and use only "monograde" pedagogy. Na-
tional curriculum contents, teaching and learning materials
and activities taught at schools are frequently geared for
monograde classes. The result of untrained and inappropri-
ately trained teachers, as well as lack of appropriate teaching
learning materials, is that children in multi-grade classrooms
spend much of their time relearning material they already
know or sit idle and boxed.
While the world is becoming increasingly urbanized, multi-
grade schools will remain a reality for many years to come.
Adequately meeting the needs of children in multi-grade
classrooms will be essential for the achievement of quality
education for all.
Proven Models for Mult i- grade Teaching
There are now proven models for multi-grade teaching in
both the developed and the developing world. In developing
countries the Escuela Nueva in Colombia is a well-
documented, highly successful example of an integrated ap-
proach to learning in a rural multi-grade setting. Escuela
Nueva began operating in 1976. The methodology is fully
followed in over 10,000 schools and partially used in many
more schools. Escuela Nueva methodology is being repli-
cated in countries as diverse as Guatemala, Dominican Re-
public and Egypt. Research has shown that children learn
more and drop out less in Escuela Nueva schools than in tra-
ditional rural schools.
The approach in all successful multi-grade programs, in-
cluding Escuela Nueva, emphasizes the changed role of the
teacher. Since the teacher has to impart knowledge to a di-
verse group of students, he/she has to develop a wide variety
of teaching learning strategies. The teacher has to find ways
of encouraging self-learning and of older children helping
younger ones. The teacher increasingly becomes someone
who guides and supports students’ learning processes rather
than simply imparting knowledge. To make the system work
requires strong and focussed training programs and regular
follow-up and feedback from supervisors and trainers. De-
tailed, practical, and proven guidebooks are essential. In the
Escuela Nueva, particular attention is paid to the role that the
teacher plays in the community. Escuela Nueva also pro-
motes democratic processes within the classroom through
active and participatory methodologies and community par-
Teachers in multi-grade schools need to get together regu-
larly to discuss, share and evaluate results, problems, success
stories, and to plan ways to solve any problems that are
commonly present in multi-grade classes.
In developed countries, strong training and outreach pro-
grams, often very costly, have evolved to support the rela-
tively small number of rural and isolated schools. Interest-
ingly, some progressive schools in the USA and Europe have
combined grades one and two and sometimes three and four
as a means of recognizing children's different rates of matur-
! 18 ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
The Potential for Technology and Multi-
grade Teaching
Technology can be a powerful tool to provide access to ade-
quate education to students attending multi-grade schools
because it is able to provide training to teachers in multi-
grade methodologies and allow students to engage in inno-
vative, participatory multi-grade learning activities. Surpris-
ingly, with one or two exceptions, multi-grade programs
usually do not use technologies other than workbooks and
face to face training. Below are the potential uses of tech-
nology for multi-grade teaching, some of which are surely
cost effective now, others of which could have low enough
costs to be feasible within the next five to ten years.
Radio can, and should be, utilized now to support multi-
grade teaching. Building on the experience of interactive
mathematics (see the article "Interactive Mathematics for
Basic Education" in this Issue of TechKnowLogia), "multi-
grade" radio can strongly reinforce the print and face to face
training approaches used to date. Examples include the fol-
lowing: (a) multi-grade radio teaches one group of children
while the in-school teacher guides or assists another group;
(b) multi-grade radio teaches hard to teach subjects such as a
second language (e.g., French or English in Africa); (c)
multi-grade radio provides a set of learning experiences
which are appropriate to several or all grades, such as music
and art as well as democratic processes and community
awareness; and (d) multi-grade radio directed at teachers can
provide guidelines and methods which bring to life the rec-
ommendations of print materials. Multi-grade radio can also
be directed at parents. In particular, the radio can help to
explain to parents that multi-grades are not something to be
ashamed of as second rate but rather are an opportunity for
modern learning to take place.
As costs go down, there are more possibilities for the use of
other technologies to reinforce multi-grade teaching. The
two most important ones, described below are "enhanced"
radio and the Internet.
In the above examples, radio programs are national or re-
gional in scope. Technologies are now becoming available
to have low power radio stations covering 10-40 kilometers
as well as to have two way radio. The Australian Radio
School of the Air already uses two way radio to reach scat-
tered indigenous groups of children living in the Australian
desert. In this case, the children meet in small groups at say
the home of a parent and then communicate with their
teacher located in a town many kilometers away. A parent
acts as the "classroom" monitor. A "school" could consist of
15-20 small dispersed groups of 5-10 children making for a
total of 120-200 students. This approach is not strictly
"multi-grade" since there is one teacher for each grade.
Nonetheless it could be appropriate in other highly scattered
populations. Similar to this approach is the possible use of
low -power radio stations described elsewhere in this Issue of
TechKnowlogia. (see "Basic Education for All: The Mass
Media Formula" in this issue of TechKnowLogia) In these
cases, teaching can be more closely tailored to local condi-
tions. Finally, also described elsewhere in this issue digital
radio can add an on-line print element to the multi-grade
process. (see "Basic Education for All: The Mass Media
Formula" in this Issue of TechKnowLogia)
While the infrastructure is either not yet available, or the
costs are still too high, sometime in the future Internet, espe-
cially via satellite, will be at a low enough cost to become a
powerful teaching medium. Satellite-based Internet will be
especially important for isolated rural schools without access
to telephone lines. The beauty of the Internet for multi-grade
teaching is that children could work at their own pace.
Through on-line testing, the teacher would have a powerful
tool for identifying strengths and weaknesses and deciding
when children can proceed to the next grade or graduate.
Furthermore, the Internet approach would provide all the
advantages of radio based instruction described above but
with far more flexibility.
In short,
• Multi-grade schools will not disappear.
• There are proven methodologies for making the multi-
grade school a modern progressive and effective ap-
proach to learning.
• Existing technologies ought to be exploited now to im-
plement these approaches.
• Emerging technologies offer even more powerful tools
for effective education in multi-grade schools.

! !! ! 19 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Governor Would Give Every
Student a Laptop
Gov. Angus King of Maine, USA announced a plan today to
give every seventh grader in the state a laptop with Internet
service beginning the Fall of 2002. The $65 million plan was
immediately met with skepticism from members of the
Legislature. The Governor suggests that $50 million from the
state's unallocated budget surplus be put in a permanent
endowment, along with $15 million in matching funds from
federal and private sources, to pay for the computers.
According to Senator Mark W. Lawrence, "essentially taking
a chunk of money, setting up a foundation -- that's very
different and I think that's going to be debated in the
Source: The Benton Foundation
A Virtual Revolution In Teaching
Educators are struggling to find their place in an increasingly
online world. Internet-based education programs, which are
attracting growing numbers of supporters, offer convenience
and relieve overcrowding in classrooms. Hoping to attract
everyone from teenagers getting an early start on their
college careers to older workers balancing education with
jobs and families, many schools are beginning to offer online
courses. One in three U.S. colleges now offer an accredited
degree online, more than twice the rate last year. Yet the
flurry of activity in online education has raised many issues,
such as whether prestigious universities will maintain their
elite reputations--and offer the same challenging coursework-
-as they join the hordes of schools mass-marketing their
courses online. Similarly, critics are debating whether an
online degree will have the same value as its traditional
counterpart. Furthermore, many public universities are
partnering with Internet startups to market their courses,
raising a debate over the ethical implications of mixing
education with business. Universities say that they are still
trying to find the right system for offering online education,
including prices and enrollment limits. Source: Educause.
First 'Digital Divide' Bill Passes
The US Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would
award tax credits to companies that donate their used
computers to schools The New Millennium Classrooms Act,
passed with a 96-2 vote, is seen as a way to help bridge the
digital divide in computer usage among Americans. The lead
sponsor of the legislation, Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.),
says companies have been telling Congress that tax
incentives would allow them to provide schools with more
computers. The bill will give companies a 50 percent "fair-
market value" tax credit for computers donated to schools
located in "empowerment zones," poorer areas in need of
assistance. The bill will give a 30 percent tax credit for
computers donated outside of empowerment zones. A report
released last summer by the Commerce Department's
National Telecommunications and Information
Administration found that the disparity in computer
ownership between blacks and whites has increased by 6
percent since 1997.
Presentation Of World View
Information System (WVIS) For
Basic Education Ngos In Africa
And South Asia.
A user-friendly information system for local non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) involved in basic
education in Africa and South Asia has been developed by
World View Literacy Information Research (WVLIR).
WVLIR's broad objectives are to reinforce evaluations and
research among NGOs. Its founding members come from the
market and opinion research industry. During the Annual
Conference of European Society for Opinion and Market
Research (ESOMAR) at Davos in September 1994,
WVLIR's constituting meeting focused on providing
information systems to basic education NGOs to initially
share existing research. WVLIR is poised to connect all
! !! ! 20 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
individuals and organizations, involved in spreading literacy
in the form of basic education and/or primary education.
World View Information System (WVIS) is a process based
around Databases which integrates details about
Organizations, Materials, Projects & Individuals on most
aspects about literacy and basic education. World View
announces WVIS Edition 1 for MS Access 97. You can
download it from the Internet on
http://www.wvlir.com/wvis1.html or ask for its distributable
CD-ROM version, available at a token price.
A Bilingual Descriptive Database
Of 850 Education Projects In
Africa, Now Accessible Online!
The Association for the Development of Education in Africa
(ADEA), in collaboration with Bellanet, has published a
descriptive database of 850 African education projects on the
web. The PRISME database is up-to-date, bilingual (English
and French) and fully searchable by region, subject area,
funding institution, and keyword.
There are 850 projects described in the PRISME database,
contributed by 27 external aid organizations. PRISME is,
first of all, a directory of information on projects primarily
financed by bilateral or multilateral funding agencies
(including development banks, foundations and other non-
governmental organizations). PRISME also contains
information on projects by executing agencies (e.g.
UNESCO, IIEP). The contents are updated annually.
For information contact:
Thanh Hoa Desruelles
Michael Roberts
Technology Critic Takes on
Computers in Schools
Clifford Stoll, an astronomer, computer expert and
technology gadfly, warns against classroom computing in his
new book, High Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don't Belong
in the Classroom and Other Reflections by a Computer
Contrarian. "Here's a policy being put into place without any
hearings or public debate," Stoll said. "No one is asking,
'What problem does this solve? What problem does this
cause?'" Stoll believes the computer skills kids need can be
learned in a couple of weeks by high school students and that
the prominent place of technology in the classroom could
end up doing a lot of real harm to students: time on the
computer inevitably means time taken away from real
interaction with teachers and other students and means
reduced time for things that children do master more easily
than grown-ups, like foreign languages and musical
instruments. Source: The Benton Foundation
Internet Improves Kids' Attitude
to School
The Internet is a positive force in children's education,
according to the findings of a new survey from the US
National School Boards Foundation and Children's
Television Workshop. Over 40 percent of 9-17 year old
school-goers say the Internet has improved their attitude to
attending school. Almost half of children in households that
are connected to the Internet go online primarily for
schoolwork and 53 percent of adults in these households go
online for the same reason. Parents say that using the Internet
has not significantly affected their children's other activities.
Almost all report that their kids spend the same amount of
time reading, playing outdoors and spending time with their
families. Source: Nua Ltd.
Children Tutoring Seniors at
Internet Skills: An Experiment
Conducted at One Israeli
Elementary School.
The internet which connects about 200 million people and
millions of pages, voice, sound, image and video files has
become a most powerful tool in the hands of those who know
how to navigate it. The gap is widening between youngsters,
the primary internet user population, and adults and mostly
seniors ,who are not skilled at using a computer or the
Internet. In the new Hi-Tech world, where children speak the
new language of the Internet as their mother tongue, it would
be most fitting to put their mastery to good use and train
them to teach this new language to Senior Citizens. An
experiment was conducted in one elementary school in
Israel, the Alon School in 1999, where ten Seniors were
tutored by ten children aged 11-14.
For documentation of the process as well as an evaluation of
the project, please write to Prof. Edna Aphek:
! 21 ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Cr eating Learning Communities with Computer s
by Mary Fontaine with Richard Fuchs
The LearnLink Project, Academy for Educational Development (AED)
The Water ing Hole
Long term development wallahs
are probably familiar with
the story of the faucet and the well, which has become rather
a classic in development literature. It seems that some
twenty years ago, a team of evaluators assessed the impact of
a water and sanitation project on a small village in South
Asia. While the newly installed pipes brought water into
homes, relieving girls and women of the burden of fetching it
from the well, the project also ruined their social lives. The
well was where they congregated, of course, to gossip, plan
celebrations and social events, even arrange marriages.
Without that common place, they became even more iso-
lated—though more conveniently so—than they probably
were before. One wonders how many happy unions were
sacrificed for those handy drinks of water.
The story is relevant here not so much for its project design
lessons but for illustrating the importance of the proverbial
watering hole—that public square, commons or neighbor-
hood nucleus that provides people with a place to come to-
gether. Drawing on Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good
, Richard Holeton describes the “three essential places
in people’s lives: the place we live, the place we work, and
the place we gather for conviviality.” Both Holeton and
Oldenburg stress the value and function of the third place,
which is not merely a center for idle chatter but rather the
place where “communities can come into being and continue
to hold together.”
Common places and communities are also topics of conver-
sation and debate in the electronic age. While critics caution
against the impersonal nature of keyboard- and monitor-
induced activity and the loss of face-to-face interaction,
apologists extol the virtues of virtual communities and the
benefits of online interactivity. Some, like the ever-
insightful Steve Cisler, describe the struggle between the
©IDRC www.idrc.com
! 22 ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
…at the piazza in the center of Milan….there exists
a place to meet, to eat, to stroll, to talk, to propa-
gandize, to relax, and at the very edges there are
places to sell and shop and worship. It is the es-
sence of a vibrant public space: open, accessible,
multi-purpose, and supported by the public that
makes use of it…. Many of us hoped that the elec-
tronic environments we were building would resem-
ble in some ways the piazza of Milan, Italy. Here
was one of the nerve centers of the global economy,
able to maintain such a cohesive yet diverse envi-
ronment, when other cities, including my own, San
Jose, California (“the capital of Silicon Valley”),
are struggling for a center, a sense of identity, and
purpose. In the midst of the forces of globalization,
exemplified by the Internet, the local community
networks are also searching for their own identity, a
central theme common to all of them….
An Unbasic Need
This article is based on the simple assumption that, through-
out recorded history—indeed, from the beginning of time—
technological innovations have transformed the systems of
life as much as philosophical, economic, political, religious,
and sociological reformations. Each has influenced the
other, sometimes in the same direction, sometimes as a
backlash to feared or unwanted trends. While it is true that
not everyone has been equally touched or benefited—e.g.,
the impact of the 19
century printing press, even today, on
the millions of illiterates in the world—it is also true that
though individuals themselves may have escaped or been
bypassed, the world in which they live—and the circum-
stances on which their quality of life depends—most cer-
tainly has not.
Technology skeptics caution about the negative impact of
computers. Using computers is a solitary and soporific ac-
tivity, they say, that can isolate people. It is a virtual activity
that cannot and should never replace interpersonal ex-
changes. And it is a sedentary pursuit that leaves us sitting
for hours on end. Moreover, computers are subject to the
vagaries and the mercy of infrastructure, which is absolutely
not available, consistent or reliable in much of the world.
Finally, given the abundance of basic needs still outstanding
in the world today—basic education, health care, sanitation,
security, human rights, even food and water—computers
seem to some to be not only inappropriate, superfluous and
beside the point but may in fact divert us from a focus on real
As with many controversial subjects, there are different and
legitimate points of view vis-à-vis computerization, which
may be true in whole or part simultaneously. Computer use
is indeed sedentary, and no one has solved that problem yet.
It may be solitary in a sense as well, but the ability to reach
the entire world in seconds through email or the World Wide
Web, for example, can enable a highly sociable and interac-
tive experience. Similarly, while virtual communities do not
enable members to look one another in the eye and may
never match a human touch or the chat at the well, they make
possible a host of valuable personal and professional ex-
changes that, in some cases, can be life-altering. In cases
where mobility is limited, access to communication through
computers can be a veritable godsend.
…in traditional kinds of communities, we are ac-
customed to meeting people, then getting to know
them;in virtual communities, you can get to know
people and then choose to meet them….
Factually, computers, in general, and the Internet in particu-
lar are the most rapidly spreading technologies ever. For
better or worse, they may also prove to be one of the most
profound influences in shaping the course of human events to
For development, the conversation is increasingly relevant.
Sitting in the USAID office in Kampala, a Develop-
ment Officer questions a visiting consultant. Hard
working and dedicated, the Development Officer
isn’t ready to buy this “Internet in every pot” ap-
proach to development. He’s seen too many techno-
fixes fail, too many rusting remains of technical so-
lutions without a human and social context. He
stresses to the consultant that, "for the last 20 years,
Uganda has been an almost bookless society.” The
, there to assist the start-up of Africa’s
first rural, multi-purpose community telecenter,
ponders the comment carefully. He responds,
“Well, in a bookless society, why would you start
with books?”
And so the computer fan/skeptic dialectic goes. The argu-
ment, as useful as it can be, often misses the central theme of
any development project. It is the social context of devel-
opment, not the technology, that matters. Whether it is books
or computers, if the social context is wrong, development
won’t occur. If, on the other hand, people see purpose, find
opportunity, get inspired and apply new skills, then it matters
little what technology prop has been used. Development is
the result.
Two Roads Conver ging
An expanded vision of education that has rocked the world is
that of “cradle to grave” or lifelong learning, a prospect made
increasingly desirable and necessary in this rapidly trans-
forming new century. More difficult and challenging has
! 23 ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
been devising the ways and means to launch, facilitate, and
sustain the process. It is here that visionary educators and
computerphiles have crossed paths.
Since the prospect of employing computers in the service of
education became plausible and feasible, educators naturally
used the technology at first to extend, expand and enhance
traditional approaches. Early applications in the U.S. fo-
cused on increasing access, for example, using distance edu-
cation to bring learning opportunities, expertise in special-
ized subjects, even degree programs to remote areas. Com-
puterized instructional materials also flourished, including
individualized training courses and all manner of lovely and
increasingly sophisticated educational software. While these
new products and services have taught valuable lessons—
about the usefulness of individualized pacing and
sequencing, for example—for the most part they have not
changed the essence of traditional methods or materials.
Much distance learning still replicates the classroom, with
students reading lectures on computer screens, and many
new materials, while enabling some level of exploration and
interactivity, are at heart more colorful and playful versions
of textbooks. While the entry of computers into formal
education has advanced the cause, it has not sparked the
revolution—at least not yet.
It is in the area of informal education—the world of learning
that goes on informally, all around us—that information and
communication technologies (ICTs) are causing quite a
stir—and in the most unlikely of places. In developing
countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, telecenters are
springing up and bringing the world to communities that, for
the most part, have little experience with it. The phenome-
non is particularly interesting in poor neighborhoods and
remote and rural areas, where formal schooling suffers from
access, equity and quality problems, and where, heretofore,
informal opportunities for learning have been more of the
past than the future. Though the experience varies from
place to place, there seems to be a sense of the watering hole
or well, both actual and metaphorical, associated with some
of these centers—an aura of inclusion and engagement that
attracts people from all walks of life—especially where
community members have been intimately involved in de-
signing, constructing and operating them. Perhaps the most
exciting aspect of it is what seems to be drawing people to
the centers—the opportunity to learn, in the broadest and best
sense of the term.
What is so appealing and compelling about these centers?
Can we isolate the elements and identify the combination of
qualities and characteristics that are turning them into Milan-
ese piazzas and South Asian wells, where people gather to
share ideas and to move forward, as a community? Can we
capture the trend, the momentum, and transplant it around
the world?
In Nakaseke, Uganda
, the metaphorical watering hole
has been actualized. Sitting outside Africa’s first rural,
multi-purpose community telecenter is the community
water pump. Nurses from the local District Hospital,
teachers from the 27 schools in the rural region, micro-
entrepreneurs from all over town and passers-by all
gather at the telecenter. Some arrive with a purpose,
others just to hang out. Meddie Mayanja, the telecenter
Coordinator, had never touched a computer until two
years ago. Now he authors courses for the Web. Med-
die has never taken a computer course. He first learned
about the technology by watching others. Now others
watch him. The informal and experiential learning that
characterizes so much of how people mediate their use
of computers is starting to come to Africa and the devel-
oping world.
A LearnLink project in Ghana is facing head-on the
challenges of lifelong learning and non-traditional ac-
cess to education. With USAID assistance, it is estab-
lishing community learning centers (CLCs) to enhance
basic education, train teachers, develop local businesses,
strengthen municipal administration and civil society or-
ganizations, and provide health care information. Ulti-
mately, the centers will provide learning system services
to a variety of organizations, companies, and individuals
throughout the country: community and NGO leaders,
service providers in a variety of fields, educators and
students, and businesses, all of whom will not only have
new access to computer technologies but will receive
training in their use. The CLCs build on the telecenter
concept but emphasize the learning functions of the
communication technologies. Three Ghanaian NGOs
house the centers to ensure broad public access and pre-
serve the learning focus. The NGO staff has been
trained in computer literacy, Internet orientation, word
processing, spreadsheets, presentation graphics, website
development, and training methodologies, to cite just
some of the areas. The NGOs, in turn, offer similar
training opportunities to the public.
(see TechKnowLo-
gia, Sept./Oct. 1999 Issue, Ghana: Networking For Lo-
cal Development - How You Can Use A Computer with-
out Owning One)
In Asuncion, Paraguay, the CLC project, also funded
by USAID, developed a mind of its own. What began as
a plan for municipal telecenters to automate activities,
such as registering to vote, paying bills, applying for li-
censes and permits, and accessing information about
business development and civic education, has grown to
include an educational focus. Teachers take students to
explore the science and geography CD-ROMs available
at the centers, and some students are using the Internet to
conduct research for class presentations. At one center,
! 24 ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
as many as 360 children a week use the center’s elec-
tronic capabilities to improve their reading, writing,
math, and basic computer skills. Two centers, located in
primary schools, benefit students and teachers as well as
the entire community. At one school, teachers, parents,
and students designed their own computer training ses-
sions and took up collections to buy educational soft-
ware. They collaborate with the community to ensure
that everyone who wishes it has access to the center after
school hours. The second center has scheduled hours of
operation to extend availability to the entire commu-
(see TechKnowLogia Nov./Dec. 1999 Issue,
AMIC@S in Asuncion: Leapfrogging Development).
The “School” As Watering Hole
In an ideal world, educational purists envision a lifetime of
learning that begins at birth and never ends—a worldwide
culture of learning that nourishes innate human curiosity,
feeds imagination, and fuels communication. The school,
structured as it was to resemble the factory during the early
days of the Industrial Revolution, has been the repository of
learning. But in the post-industrial society, the school has
been slow to adapt to the rapid changes that are transforming
the world around all of us. Instead, the leaders of the Infor-
mation Economy, the Microsofts, Oracles and Java’s, have
all developed their own asynchronous systems for learning
that require no classrooms and no admissions tests. The cre-
dentials they offer are available to all regardless of back-
ground or place of origin, and the mastery of the necessary
skills requires little more than imagination, motivation, apti-
tude—and opportunity. The institution of the school is in-
creasingly unnecessary for learning the new skills of the
computer age. Without change, the school may become like
the monastery at the dawn of the industrial revolution.
The “school” of this new century is where learning occurs,
not necessarily where the teacher can be found. In a building
in Nakaseke, Uganda, the secondary school teacher writes in
cursive penmanship on the slate board while students in uni-
form, seated neatly in rows, copy down in their notebooks
exactly what he offers. Today’s topic is how to read maps.
Longitude is this. Latitude is that. There is no map to be
found in the classroom.
Down the road in the same community, at the telecenter,
students and teachers print off maps from Encarta. Local
business people take digital pictures of products in their
stores and print them out as signs on color printers. Students
type up resumes. The place is alive. There is noise, and there
is curiosity, imagination, purpose, even magic in the air.
This is the wellspring of social and economic development.
This is the networked institution where people learn, teach
and become inspired all at the same time. The teacher here is
the coach and the coordinator, not the instructor. Self-paced,
self-administered learning is being celebrated and modeled
for all to see.
Throughout the developing world, there is evidence that tele-
centers—aka Community Learning Centers—may be starting
to create a social context for learning in the post-industrial
economy. If the conviviality, sociability and cohesion of the
watering hole can be brought to the business of learning, then
the business of education and development will have done its

An Indian word used here loosely to mean “expert” or “pro-
Ray Oldenburg, The Great Good Place, Paragon House,
1989, p. 157.
Richard Holeton, Composing Cyberspace: Identity, Com-
munity, and Knowledge in the Electronic Age, McGraw Hill,
“Electronic Public Space in 1998: Civic and Community
Networks,” Steve Cisler, October 1998, cisler@pobox.com
Richard Holeton, Composing Cyberspace, p. 159.
This is an actual discussion that LearnLink consultant Rich
Fuchs (Futureworks Inc.) recounts from Kampala in July
LearnLink has published a case study of the Nakaseke
Multi-Purpose Community Telecenter, written by Richard
Fuchs and Meddie Mayanja (August 1999). For a copy,
contact Mary Fontaine at mfontain@smtp.aed.org.
“Education For All: A Global Commitment,” A Report of
the United States to the International Consultative Form on
Education for All, Edward B. Fiske and Barbara O’Grady,
Academy for Educational Development (AED), January,
“Education For All: A Global Commitment,” A Report of
the United States to the International Consultative Form on
Education for All, Edward B. Fiske and Barbara O’Grady,
Academy for Educational Development (AED), January,
! !! ! 25 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Int er act ive M at hemat ics f or Basic Educat ion
The Venezuelan Experience with IRI
Nora Ghetea Jaegerman and Victor Vásquez R.,
Interactive Mathematics for
Basic Education is a program
designed to raise the quality of
Mathematics teaching in the
first phase of Basic Education
in Venezuela, which corre-
sponds to the first, second and
third grades. In this method,
active listening to radio programs is combined with class-
room activities, in order to develop the subject’s content ar-
eas during this phase. The program was developed by a
Foundation, the National Center for the Improvement of Sci-
ence Education, CENAMEC, under the auspices of the Min-
istry of Education. At first, it was financed by the Venezue-
lan private sector, then by the World Bank during the period
of its greatest expansion.
The program was created in order to help resolve the prob-
lem of low levels of quality learning in this subject. Addi-
tionally, given that this problem is greatly tied to deficiencies
in the training and updating of math teachers, the program
was devised as a system of permanent training for teachers
through the use of their own resources. In order to accom-
plish these objectives, the program offers the following sup-
port to participating classrooms: a radio, a teacher’s guide, a
package of complementary materials, the daily transmission
of a radio program “Matemática Divertida” [Entertaining
Mathematics], teacher training and follow up.
The typical Interactive Mathematics lesson or “encounter”
contains three important aspects: preparation, listening to the
radio program and carrying out activities suggested in the
guide. During preparation, the teacher organizes the students
and ensures they have the necessary materials ready for the
transmission. During the radio program, varied and intensive
activities are carried out, monitored by the teacher. To wrap
up the “encounter,” the teacher carries out activities of
evaluation and reinforcement, going more in depth as sug-
gested in the guide, in some cases supported by the comple-
mentary materials the teacher receives.
Since its beginnings in 1991, program activities have cen-
tered on two fundamental aspects: the production of instruc-
tional materials, and the formation of a national administra-
tive structure to manage its implementation.
Program accomplishments can be summarized in three areas:
production, implementation and evaluation.
Radio Programs
Production initiated with the series
for second grade, which was an
adaptation of Radio Mathematics of
Nicaragua, the first series produced
in the world utilizing the Interactive
Radio technique. The third grade
and first grade series were
completely designed and executed by staff of the Interactive
Mathematics team.
Interactive Mathematics produced three series of the radio
program Entertaining Mathematics: 125 programs for first
grade, 140 for second and 135 for third. The series follow
the customary format of Interactive Radio, in the sense that
they are programs lasting approximately 30 minutes that
combine instructional segments with recreational segments,
aside from others in which the two functions are combined.
They also implement distributive practice in that at the be-
ginning of the year topics are addressed which continue to be
deepened in complexity and difficulty throughout the rest of
the year.
The radio program, Entertaining Mathematics, is dramatized
and each series develops in a particular context. The char-
acters become familiar to the students, who carry out differ-
ent kinds of activities with them. Music is used through
songs that are especially composed for the series. The pro-
grams also use stories and adventures with situations in
which mathematics procedures have to be applied, as well as
riddles, math games and physical exercises.
Teacher’s Guide
A Teacher's Guide, divided into the following sections ac-
companies each series: Introduction, Instructions, Planning,
Evaluation, Encounters, Songs and Special Activities.
! !! ! 26 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
♦ Introduction. Presents the program objectives, the
principles of the technique of Interactive Radio, the gen-
eral structure of classes or encounters, a description of
the teacher's role, the principles that guide the formula-
tion of the program, didactic considerations with regards
to the content to be covered during the year, and a de-
scription of the resources necessary to carry out the
classroom encounters, including a description of the
materials contained in the packet of Complementary

♦ Instructions. Guidelines for carrying out an encounter
in the classroom.
♦ Planning. Contains a detailed description of the topics
covered throughout the year and the encounters within
which they are dealt. In addition, this section contains a
table in which the context of each encounter is summa-
rily described and is tied to other areas such as language
and the natural sciences, with the goal of helping the
teacher relate math concepts to other areas of applica-
tion. Finally, there are some suggestions for evaluating
the students.
♦ Encounters. Contains information about the materials
required for the activities of each of the encounters, the
exercises that are going to be carried out during the
transmission, the materials necessary to follow along, as
well as a brief description of the activities to be carried
out during the transmission. Also, two activities are
suggested that the teacher can conduct with the students
in the classroom after the transmission is over.
♦ Songs. Contains the words to the songs in the program.
♦ Special Activities. Contains the development of some
activities that are considered special because they re-
quire more advanced work in order to be carried out, and
they cover the development of a concept from its first
approximations through some of its applications. Thus,
they generally require various sections in order to be
Complementary Materials
For each grade a packet of Complementary Materials was
designed to carry out some of the activities during and after
the transmission. This contains:
♦ Materials to create an atmosphere in the classroom, such
as posters and illustrations.
♦ Concrete materials: logic blocks, metric tape, bills and
coins, mosaics, molds to construct geometric shapes,
♦ Worksheets.
♦ Work notebooks.
Development Process of the Series
The series that correspond to 1
, 2
, and 3
grade have fol-
lowed a process that consists of the following phases:
♦ A pilot phase in a small sample of the Federal District.
This phase consisted of a limited production of programs
that included strategies to be utilized in the complete se-
ries, in order to carry out an initial formative evaluation
before proceeding to write the entire series.
♦ A trial phase in a larger sample, also in the Federal Dis-
trict. During the year in which this series was produced,
the programs were transmitted as they were produced.
This allowed for a more in-depth evaluation of the aired
material. In this way, mistakes could be detected and
corrected early, thus saving time and effort down the
♦ An extension phase to various states away from the
capital. Each state started with 2
grade, and in the
following years they incorporated 3
and 1
Once the first grade was established, new states started
with that grade, following the normal sequence.
Organizational Structure in the States
In each state there are two teams in charge of managing the
program; the coordinating team, headed up by a regional
program coordinator, and a team of facilitators.
The coordinating team carries out planning, designs a state-
wide program budget, negotiates and signs agreements and
contracts with the governments and the radio stations that
transmit the program, distributes and controls program mate-
rials, plans the workshops for directors and teachers, com-
municates with the central team, and in general, deals with
any issue having to do with the program in the state. Usu-
ally, this team is made up of a coordinator and two or three
people assigned by the government, although in some cases
there can be up to ten people in a state coordination team.
Another important function of the coordinating team is to
carry out follow-up with classroom participants to verify the
correct application of the program, as well as to offer support
when necessary.
The team of facilitators is selected by the coordinating team
to train the teachers who enter the program. This team is
made up of a combination of integral education teachers and
mathematics teachers who receive special education and re-
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muneration for the workshops they offer. The next section
briefly describes what this training consists of.
Several kinds of workshops are offered to inform and train
the different participants in the program. These are:
♦ Workshops for the regional coordination teams. The
central advisors lead these workshops. The team is
taught the processes to follow in order to start up the
program in their state: agreements with the government,
contracts with the schools, the gathering of directors and
teachers and the organization of teacher workshops,
among others.
♦ Training workshops for state facilitators. The central
team leads these workshops. The participants in these
workshops are evaluated and only those who achieve an
approved level are certified to do training.
♦ Workshops for supervisors and directors. The state
facilitators themselves lead these workshops. directors,
who then select the teachers from their respective
schools who are going to attend the training workshops
as a prerequisite to registering their sections.
♦ Teacher training. Local facilitators who pass the pre-
vious workshop train the teachers from each grade. This
training consists of a ten-hour workshop, specific for
each grade, in which the teacher is instructed in the
technique of Interactive Radio and in the most important
teaching strategies that are going to be developed
throughout the year. The sections are registered once
their teachers receive this training.
The follow-up is carried out at two levels - regional and cen-
tral. What follows is a description of both processes.
♦ Regional Follow-up
◊ Visits to a sampling of participating schools. These vis-
its can be of two types:
◊ Supervision of a complete encounter of Interactive
Mathematics, including the pre-transmission activity, the
transmission and the post-transmission activities.
◊ A technical visit, which consists of going to a school and
visiting all the participating classrooms. Through the in-
spection of the classroom environment and a review of
student workbooks, it can be determined if the program
is being followed in that class and if it is being carried
out adequately. These visits also involve oversight of
the school personnel.
◊ Meetings with supervisors, directors and teachers.
◊ Teacher support circles. These are being put into prac-
tice in some states, consisting of meetings of teachers
from different participating schools who share ideas
about the program, with the goal of reaching a larger
number of teachers than would be possible if the follow-
up were only done through visits.
♦ Central Follow-up
◊ Periodic visits to the states. These visits address issues
of common interest to both teams, and issues are re-
solved in meetings with regional teams.
◊ Visits to a sampling of schools during the state visits.
◊ Oversight of the allocation of equipment and materials
to the coordinating teams.
◊ Oversight of the management of state coordination
teams - agreements with governments, contracts with ra-
dio stations, inventory control and a plan for recruitment
and follow-up with sections.
Population Served
To this date, approximately three million students have been
served. By December 2000, we hope to have the capacity to
serve 1,200,000 students a year, distributed in 40,000 class-
rooms in 11,000 schools. The program is extended to 23 of
the 24 Venezuelan federal entities.
The Media
♦ 29 radio stations transmit the “Entertaining Mathemat-
ics” programs throughout the country.
♦ Local newspapers publish the notices with slates of the
printed materials necessary to follow the radio transmis-
Series Production (125 programs)
Total: $375,000
Per program: $ 3,000
Materials and Equipment
Radio $ 40 (Duration: 5 years)
Radio batteries $ 2
Teacher’s Guide $ 8 (Duration: 5 years)
Complementary materials $ 7 (Duration: 1 school year)
1997 Calculations
Series transmitted: 2
& 3
Number of students: 336,000
Average number of students per class: 30
Number of participating sections: 11,200
Number of radio stations: 23
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Costs of transmission
Total per school year $105,000
Average per radio station $ 4,565
Follow-up and training
Total per school year $274,166
Cost per classroom $25
Recurring cost per school year per classroom or section
Follow-up and training $25
Radio Transmissions $ 9.37
Radios and teachers guides $ 9.6
Complementary materials and batteries $ 9
Total cost per class or section $ 53
Total cost per student $ 1.76
Various evaluation processes have been carried out, both
formative and summative. Summative evaluations have been
carried out internally by the Interactive Mathematics team, as
well as externally by outside companies contracted specifi-
cally for that purpose. Both processes are briefly described
below, along with a general commentary about the results of
these evaluations.
Internal Evaluation
♦ Formative evaluation of the programs during the
production process. As the radio programs were pro-
duced, they were transmitted in the participating class-
rooms and observations were made about each one of
the encounters to make the necessary adjustments. In
this way, a product could be created from the beginning
that would not need extensive corrections later on, be-
cause improvements were made as problems were being

♦ Comparative studies of the children’s learning be-
tween an experimental group and a control group.
These evaluations generally consisted of comparative
studies between an experimental group and a control
group. Some of the studies carried out were the follow-
◊ First trial of first grade. Initially, the students in the
experimental group were below the level of the
control group students. By the end of the year, the
experimental group reached the control group,
achieving learning gains that were significantly
greater than those of the control group.
◊ Measurement of knowledge of children entering
fourth grade. A comparative study was carried out
between fourth grade students who had studied un-
der the Interactive Mathematics system and others
who had followed traditional methods in the Federal
District and the states of Lara and Mérida. The ex-
perimental group had significantly higher results
than the control group.
External Evaluation
♦ Comparative studies of children’s learning between
an experimental group and a control group. Four
studies were carried out: the second grade trial in Cara-
cas; a national evaluation of second grades the year that
it extended to other states; an evaluation of the third
grade trial; and, finally, a national study that included
second and third grade. In all except one, the study of
second grade at the point it was extended, the results
were significantly higher for the experimental group
than the control group.

♦ Evaluation of program implementation. The aspects
studied with respect to program implementation were the
◊ Use of the materials provided by the program.
These studies consistently revealed that 90% of the
registered teachers follow the radio program, and
60% carry out all of the programmed activities be-
fore, during and after the transmission.
◊ Teacher’s attitude towards Mathematics and the
program itself. In the evaluations as well as in the
follow-up process, a change in the teachers’ atti-
tudes towards the subject could be observed, in the
sense that they feel more comfortable teaching math
as a result of the availability of a well planned and
accessible resource. In an evaluation carried out by
National Supervisors of the Ministry of Education
in the 1998-99 school year, the program turned out
to be the one most well known and accepted by
teachers at the national level.
◊ Student change of attitude. Students like the pro-
gram and changes are reported that affect not only
the Mathematics class, but all their other classes as
well. For example, students pay better attention, as
a result of having to listen attentively to a daily ra-
dio program.
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Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia Ethiopia: : : : Educational Radio and Television Educational Radio and Television Educational Radio and Television Educational Radio and Television
Thomas D. Tilson, Chief of Party, USAID.BESO Project
Demissew Bekele, General Manager, Educational Media Agency, Ethiopia
Background Background Background Background
Ethiopia has a rich experience spanning more than three dec-
ades in using radio and television to support primary, secon-
dary and non-formal education. The Educational Media
Agency (EMA) of the Ministry of Education, which has pro-
vided the leadership in this area, traces is origin to the Audio-
Visual Center established 1952/53. The Center developed,
produced and distributed audio-visual teaching aids, and
even had a mobile team that traveled to villages and schools
to show films and slides.
In 1965, a year after the introduction of television in the
country, television became the first technology for broad-
casting educational programs using the facilities of the Min-
istry of Information. In 1969, EMA started broadcasting
from its own studio, an indication of its technical and pro-
duction attainment. At that time, as a result of increased en-
rollment in schools, the multiple shift system was introduced,
and EMA had to repeat the broadcast of lessons for each
shift. Later in 1971, educational radio broadcasting was initi-
ated after a humble experiment using audiocassette programs
in a prison in Addis Ababa.
In 1967, the Audio-Visual Center was reorganized as the
Educational Mass Media Center with its own TV studio that
produced programs in eight subjects for senior secondary
schools and in five subjects for junior secondary schools. TV
programs were developed for primary schools as well. But
the secondary school programs were interrupted in 1976 and
the primary school programs stopped in 1980. TV programs
returned for junior secondary schools in 1988.
Perhaps most importantly, EMA's radio and television pro-
grams are an accepted part of the school curriculum through-
out the country.
Over the years EMA expanded greatly. It currently manages
an extensive broadcasting infrastructure dedicated to sup-
porting education. EMA has large facilities, employs ap-
proximately 160 persons, operates eleven transmitters, each
with two channels, throughout the country, and runs 12 re-
cording studios at the center and the regions, with more
planned construction in the coming years.
Radios, including 500 solar-powered sets, have been distrib-
uted to almost all schools nationally, and 800 color televi-
sions have been sent to almost all secondary schools. The
radio and television programs enrich education in the fol-
lowing manner:
• supplement and enrich the regular curriculum;
• support the distance education secondary level program
for out-of- school youth and adults;
• provide programs to a general audience on a variety of
development issues; and
• develop new non-formal programs to upgrade the quali-
fication and skills of primary school teachers.
Educational Context Educational Context Educational Context Educational Context
Ethiopia is a large but poor country in the Horn of Africa. It
has a long and rich history. The predominant religion is Or-
thodox Christian going back to approximately 400 AD.
There is also a large Muslim population, and the two major
religions coexist peacefully. Formal education began in the
early part of this century, but didn't begin to expand in a sub-
stantial way until the 1950s. In spite of the importance given
to education in Ethiopia, gross enrollment rates have never
been high. Even now, after several years of strong increases
in school enrollment, gross enrollment rate at the primary
grades (grades 1-8) is only about 40%, well below the Sub-
Saharan average. The country is now halfway through a five-
year plan to expand access to and improve the quality and
equity of education.
Educational media has been particularly important in Ethio-
pia for several reasons. First, the country is large and moun-
tainous and travel is difficult. Educational broadcasting helps
to ensure the delivery of quality programs throughout the
nation. Second, it has helped to support classes with under-
qualified teachers. This has been particularly true in the sci-
ences in secondary schools. Third, it expands the experiences
of the children. For example, in the sciences, the programs
can demonstrate many experiments that would not be possi-
ble to do in regular classrooms or even in labs. Fourth, the
programs provide general enrichment in a variety of ways.
The programs are produced after identifying important aca-
demic skills designated in the syllabus of each course. Then
informative and imaginative programs are created, that suit
each medium. By using both instructional and enrichment
approaches, EMA widens the learners' horizon by applying
the academic skills in a variety of ways and, thus, strength-
ens the teaching and learning process.
EMA's Program Support to Education EMA's Program Support to Education EMA's Program Support to Education EMA's Program Support to Education
Between EMA and the regions, radio and television is used
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to support formal education in the following ways. The pro-
• Improve the quality of primary education by producing
at the regional level radio programs in local languages
for all primary school grades in most subjects
• Strengthen the teaching of English through the develop-
ment of an improved approach known as interactive ra-
dio instruction (IRI) (see article "Are You Talking to
Me? Interactive Radio Instruction" in Novem-
ber/December Issue of TechKnowLogia)
• Improve the quality of secondary education and reduce
regional disparities by producing radio and television
programs in many secondary school subjects
• Increase access to secondary education by providing a
distance education secondary equivalency program for
out-of-school youth and adults
• Improve the qualifications of teachers by creating new
distance education programs for upgrading underquali-
fied primary school teachers
Primary level
In general, there is a 15-minute radio program per week for
each major subject area at each grade level. EMA produces
programs in English and Amharic; the regions produce pro-
grams in the natural sciences, social sciences, and local lan-
guages. One of the major consequences for education based
on the new federal governance structure is that primary edu-
cation is given in the mother tongue. Although there are ap-
proximately 80 languages in Ethiopia, currently about 15-20
of the languages are being used as the medium of instruction.
Although most regions have only one or, perhaps two, lan-
guages of instruction, some regions have several languages.
Therefore, the radio programs in each subject must be pro-
duced in each of the languages for each grade. This greatly
complicates the production process as well as placing exten-
sive demands on the transmitting capacity within the country.
In secondary schools, the medium of instruction is English,
so programs have only to be developed in one language.
EMA has embarked on a new initiative that has the potential
for improving the quality of its programming and, eventu-
ally, the programming in the regions as well. EMA is devel-
oping daily 15-minute English radio programs for grade 1
based on the IRI model. IRI programs for the higher primary
grades are expected to be produced in subsequent years. IRI
is noted for its systematic curriculum design and, particu-
larly, for the way in which the children in the classroom be-
come active participants in the learning process. Although
IRI uses standard one-way radio broadcasting, the scripts are
written in a way that actively engage the children in the les-
sons. Thus, anyone observing an IRI class can understand
why the name "Interactive Radio Instruction" became associ-
ated with this type of broadcast. IRI is not a major departure
for EMA, but builds upon and improves its systems for
writing and producing other programs. (IRI programs in
other countries including English, mathematics, science and
health have been extensively evaluated and consistently
show a strong impact on learning.)
Secondary level
EMA is producing both television and radio lessons. It is
producing television programs for Grade 9 in Chemistry,
Physics, Biology, English and Mathematics. In addition, it is
developing Grade 9 radio lessons in Amharic, English, Biol-
ogy, Chemistry, History and Geography. Over the next three
years, it will expand these programs through Grade 12.
EMA has conducted for many years a distance education
secondary-level program for out-of-school youths and adults.
Currently 8,500 students are enrolled of whom 7,000 are
active this year. The program is basically a correspondence
course with students taking 5-6 courses at a time. There are,
however, 20-minute weekly radio programs in English, Am-
haric, and Biology. Although this program is now under the
control of EMA, the administration of this program will fall
to the regions. EMA will remain responsible for the instruc-
tional materials and broadcasts.
Teacher education
EMA is coordinating a new initiative for upgrading under-
qualified primary school teachers using distance education.
Approximately 70% or 17,000 teachers in the upper primary
grades (Grades 5-8) do not hold a teaching diploma and,
thus, are unqualified. Staff of the seven teacher training col-
leges, two colleges and a university is writing the distance
learning materials. EMA has provided training to all course
writers in developing distance education print materials.
EMA will also coordinate the implementation process on a
national basis, although the colleges will be responsible for
implementing the program in the regions in collaboration
with the Regional Education Bureaus. EMA will also pro-
duce over 100 radio programs to support this new initiative –
especially for language courses.
Non-formal education
Under the new decentralized structure, non-formal education
Using Interactive Radio Instruction in Ethiopia
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is the responsibility of the regions. Nevertheless, EMA will
continue to produce prototype non-formal education pro-
grams in areas such as gender, AIDS, the environment, harm-
ful cultural practices, and other development issues. These
lessons will serve as a model and starting point for the re-
gions. These prototype programs are targeted to specific
communities and audiences, usually involving study centers.
EMA continues to develop some programs for a general
adult audience. These informal programs relate to problems
found in many communities such as early marriage of girls.
The topics are determined after consultation with the regions.
Remaining challenges
In spite of the enormous experience in Ethiopia in using edu-
cational broadcasting and its full acceptance by educators at
all levels of the school system, there remain challenges. With
the decentralization and democratization of the education
system, the number of programs has greatly increased and it
has become difficult to distribute materials, radios and televi-
sion sets. Sometime the radios and television sets are mis-
handled, kept in a storeroom, or left idle due to a shortage of
batteries. Also, despite the fact that schools are advised to
adjust their timetable to accommodate the broadcasting
schedule, sometimes this schedule does not match with the
teachers' schedule. In addition, with the introduction of mul-
tiple languages of instruction, there are increasing demands
for broadcasting time that may be difficult to meet.
Increasing Access and Quality Increasing Access and Quality Increasing Access and Quality Increasing Access and Quality
EMA has increased its radio and television broadcast cover-
age through agreements with organizations like Worldspace
and the Ethiopian Telecommunication Corporation.
Digital radio
This year EMA is taking an innovative step to help meet the
increasing demands for transmitting time as well as to pro-
vide high-quality audio sound in the schools. It has teamed
up with WorldSpace, which has recently launched the Afri-
Sat satellite that broadcasts digital programs from space. Af-
riSat covers the African continent using three transmitting
beams, each of which has the capability of carrying 60 audio
channels simultaneously. Although principally a commercial
venture, WorldSpace Corporation through its Foundation has
dedicated part of its broadcasting capacity for the nonprofit
sector in areas such as education, health, the environment,
and women's issues. As one initiative to help test the capacity
of this technology to support education, WorldSpace is pro-
viding one broadcasting channel exclusively for use in
Ethiopia. In addition, it has donated 50 digital receivers for a
pilot program. EMA has already identified approximately
400 programs to be broadcast from AfriSat. These programs
include harmful traditional practices, folk media, science
subjects, gender issues, primary school teacher training pro-
grams, and English.
There are several advantages to this new technology:
• The programs can reach the most remote areas. The
transmission signal is not bothered by mountains or
other terrain as experienced with conventional radio.
• It provides a crystal clear audio signal, which is particu-
larly important in instructional programs, especially for
• The satellite not only has the capacity to broadcast audio
programs, but since it uses digital technology, it can also
transmit multimedia information as well. Thus, the sat-
ellite can download text, video, audio, and graphics to a
radio, which in turn, can pass the file to an attached
EMA will distribute the 50 digital receivers to schools for the
pilot activity to begin next October. In addition, EMA has
initiated discussions with WorldSpace to utilize the capacity
for downloading multimedia information to support the new
distance education program for primary school teachers.
EMA is particularly interested in the capabilities of transmit-
ting data directly to resource centers throughout the country
via the satellite. This would provide an exceptional opportu-
nity to send extensive multimedia information, even includ-
ing copies of multiple Web sites and links, to resource cen-
ters where teachers will meet periodically as part of their
upgrading program.
Television to secondary schools
EMA has widened its television coverage by using the
TVROs (Television Receive Only) of the Ethiopian Tele-
communication Corporation. Traditionally, EMA has been
broadcasting its educational television programs using the
transmitters of the Ethiopian Television to schools in 208
towns. However, this year EMA has entered an agreement
with the Corporation to use their TVROs in 21 towns where
the broadcast of Ethiopian Television cannot be received.
Thus, EMA television programs can now reach 229 towns.
Summary Summary Summary Summary
Ethiopia is fortunate to have a well-established and inte-
grated system for using radio and television to support edu-
cation based on over 30 years of experience. EMA and its
affiliates in the regions provide extensive programming for
primary and secondary schools, plus support to non-formal
education and teacher training. EMA's role in Ethiopia is
evolving as a result of the decentralized governance structure
established in 1991. Its role has expanded from being the
sole provider of educational programs to also providing ex-
tensive training and support to the new regional broadcasting
initiatives. EMA is also expanding its role significantly in
distance education and is looking for new ways in which
technology can help support its objectives. Its new initiative
with IRI and WorldSpace may lay the groundwork for ex-
citing new opportunities in the future.
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Ed u cat i on f or A l l – The M ass M ed i a For m u l a Ed u cat i on f or A l l – The M ass M ed i a For m u l a Ed u cat i on f or A l l – The M ass M ed i a For m u l a Ed u cat i on f or A l l – The M ass M ed i a For m u l a
David Walker and Gajaraj Dhanarajan
Community FM Radio in South Africa
"A l l avai l abl e i n st r u m en t s an d chan n el s of i n f or m at i on , com m u n i cat i on s, an d soci al
act i on cou l d be u sed t o hel p con vey essen t i al k n owl ed g e an d i n f or m an d ed u cat e peopl e
on soci al i ssu es. In ad d i t i on t o t he t r ad i t i on al m ean s, l i br ar i es, t el evi si on , r ad i o an d
ot her m ed i a can be m obi l i z ed t o r eal i z e t hei r pot en t i al t owar d s m eet i n g basi c ed u cat i on
n eed s of al l ". Fi n al R epor t W or l d Con f er en ce f or A l l : M eet i n g B asi c L ear n i n g N eed s,
Jom t i en , Thai l an d, 1990.
Why Community Radio?
Community radio is an immensely powerful technology for
the delivery of education with enormous global potential
reach. Creating opportunities for communities to utilize this
delivery system will enable disadvantaged groups to engage
in a development agenda, sensitive to their needs and aspira-
tions. In order to serve the underprivileged and rural poor,
mass media such as radio must create conditions and mecha-
nisms that provide people with genuine access to useful in-
formation. Such mechanisms will offer ways in which people
can express their sentiments, opinions, views, dreams and
aspirations, their fears and insecurities, their strengths and
capabilities, and, of course, their ideas for development.
High illiteracy rates and low levels of schooling among dis-
advantaged groups, especially women, in many developing
countries continues to limit their ability to lift themselves out
of poverty. The existing educational system has shown itself
to be unable to respond to the massive demand for increased
education. This is especially true in many poverty-stricken
countries with respect to meeting the substantial education
needs of the rural poor. Consequently, disadvantaged groups
continue to be denied access to information, knowledge,
skills and technology transfer.
The answer is to deploy Distance Education techniques and
delivery systems such as radio and television based at the
community level to address directly local issues and needs.
Community Radio - A Proven Track Record
Radio also has a developed infrastructure that
must be the envy of any developing country telecom
operator. In Sri Lanka, one person in 500 has ac-
cess to the Internet, but virtually everyone has ac-
cess to a radio. Bolivia had fewer than five tele-
phone lines per hundred people in 1996, but more
than 57 radio receivers per hundred (Girard,
Some of the undeniable strengths of radio include the fol-
• Radio reaches a wider audience than any other medium:
for example there are an estimated 94 radios per thou-
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Radio reaches a wider audience than
any other medium: for example there
are an estimated 94 radios per thou-
sand people in the least developed
countries, ten times the number of
sand people in the least developed countries, ten times
the number of televisions.
• Radio can motivate people by building on aural/oral
traditions and stimulate the imagination better than video
or television.
• Radio programs are cheap to make compared to televi-
sion and video.
• Radio receivers are widely available, comparatively
cheap and portable, making them convenient for listen-
• Radio can reach people who are isolated by language,
geography, conflict, illiteracy and poverty.
• Radio can help create a
demand for services and
convey vital information.
• Radio can facilitate
assistance in the early
stage of complex
emergencies when forms
of aid are not possible.
• Radio can be a group
activity, encouraging
discussion of educational
issues after the broadcast.
• Radio gives listeners the opportunity to make informed
choices about decisions and can give them greater self-
determination over their lives (Burke, 1999).
Some examples of the usefulness of community radio are:
• It can act as a community telephone, broadcasting com-
munity-based announcements during the day.
• In many rural areas radio is the only source of informa-
tion about market prices for crops.
• It is used both for formal and informal education such as
agricultural extension information for farmers and agro-
food processors.
• It plays an important role in the preservation of local
language and culture.
• It can be used in calling for emergency medical assis-
tance. (Girard, 1999)
Despite radio’s many advantages it is, like television, a one-
way delivery system; therefore sufficient local tutorial sup-
port is needed to supplement educational broadcasts. Many
people lack sufficient access to electricity, and batteries are
expensive to obtain. However alternatives in solar and
windup technology have been developed and are gradually
making their way to the village level. (See TechKnowLogia
March/April 2000 Issue, FM Radio Stations: Broadcasting
with the Sun)
Radio - An Under- utilized Delivery System
In order to empower disadvantaged groups as equal partners
in development, the limitations of formal and non-formal
education are now being challenged. New ways to achieve
mass education, that can be both efficient and effective, are
being sought. In this context, radio, an effective telecommu-
nications medium, was
proposed at Jomtien in 1990,
as the solution most likely to
address this great need. Radio
can cut across geographic
and cultural boundaries.
Given its availability,
accessibility, cost-
effectiveness and power,
radio represents a practical
and creative medium for
facilitating mass education in
a rural setting. However ten
years since Jomtien, radio still continues to be an under-
utilized technology in education. This is especially surpris-
ing, because from a learner's point of view, radio is user
friendly, accessible and a well-established medium. From an
educational provider's point of view it is easy to set up, pro-
duce and broadcast programs.
After almost one hundred years of broadcasting history, most
nations possess more than a respectable level of engineering
skills and broadcasting talent needed to apply the technology
in education. In the last ten years, radio has been greatly en-
hanced by the emergence of new technologies, which have
opened up opportunities for a variety of forms of delivery
and access for both broadcaster and listener. For example,
portable, low cost FM transmitting stations have been devel-
oped and digital radio systems that transmit via satellite
and/or cellular are being implemented in many parts of the
globe (Walker, 2000). Internet streaming audio software
technology has emerged to allow a global audience to listen
to news from a distant country. Also, windup and solar ra-
dios have been developed thus freeing radio from the need
for expensive power sources.
Projects and studies completed by The Commonwealth of
Learning (COL) and others in the field of Distance Educa-
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tion and Media have determined that one of the overriding
factors to the success of these stations has been the proper
community access and ownership, which is paramount in the
initial project design. If the station is or becomes an integral
part of the voice of the community, and local interest groups
have an equal say in the information that it disseminates,
then there is a greater likelihood of success in the long-term
sustainability of the station. The broadcaster and audience
must continuously interact. People sense the relevance of
what they are learning when they appreciate how the issues
touch them in their immediate environment. The content
creation of a community radio station will occur when good
station management is in place and groups are trained to sup-
ply programming aimed at specific identified needs. Finally,
political support for community radio from both local and
national leaders is important.
Leveling the Playing Field -
Going Digital for the Community
Radio and the Internet are fast becoming one delivery me-
dium, with the advent of streaming technology and the con-
version from analogue to digital radio broadcasting. A small
community radio station will serve not only its local listeners
but also communities of listeners around the world.
An advantage of digital radio transmission is that areas
which suffer 'signal gaps' due to blockage by hills or build-
ings can literally be 'gap-filled' by installing very-low power
digital radio repeaters in these locations. This is possible due
to the digital radio receiver's 'intelligence'. Unlike conven-
tional receivers, digital radio receivers are capable of sorting
through a number of signal paths on the same frequency, a
capability that will aid in the conservation of scarce radio
spectrum. In other words, broadcasters can enter the digital
radio marketplace on an equal footing; where they go from
there will depend on individual creativity and appropriate-
ness of content to address community needs. Finally, broad-
casters should be able to make this transition in a cost-
effective manner because the digital radio transmitters cur-
rently being tested can carry up to six stereo services at once,
meaning that the cost of transmission can be shared among
as many as six community stations either in a region, prov-
ince/state, nationally or even internationally. And, because
the power requirements are considerably lower for generat-
ing digital radio transmissions, the operating costs should be
substantially reduced as well. No longer will powerful
transmitters, as in the analogue FM world, be the factor that
makes or breaks the development of a community station.
Instead, since digital transmission power is the same regard-
less of a station status or power output, issues of quality, ap-
propriateness of content, and ability to address a commu-
nity's needs will be the focus of a station's strategy to attract
A number of digital initiatives are being undertaken at both
national and global levels. For example, WorldSpace is a
digital radio system that is targeting Asia, Africa and South
America via satellite transmission of digital programming.
Community broadcasters can take advantage of the educa-
tional programming that is available via rebroadcasting of
national and international initiatives to the local populace
who would not normally have access to these programs.
There is an issue with rebroadcasting of national and inter-
national programs by local community broadcasters: while
the programming may be excellent in production values and
quality compared with what can be created locally, there is a
cost in the loss of choice, of local information and of alterna-
tive perspectives. Digital audio broadcasting will also allow
for text/graphic-based information to be displayed on a small
screen on a digital radio as a supplement to the audio broad-
cast. This will open a wide variety of opportunities for con-
tent creation aimed at the illiterate, allowing learners a writ-
ten or graphic context for lessons in reading and writing.
The Ability to Reform -
A New Paradigm in a New Age
The overarching issue that will face community radio in the
future will be a government's ability to reform licensing and
broadcasting regulations. These have been major inhibitors
to the proliferation of community radio stations and therefore
educational programming in many countries. Community
radio cannot be equated with commercial radio. Therefore,
licensing fees for community-based stations should take ac-
count of the station's limited budget, which is focused on
program creation and service to the community.
In some countries a community station must show an in-
crease in transmitter power each year for the station license
to be considered for renewal. Increasing FM transmission
power does not improve the radius of coverage; rather it satu-
rates more thoroughly the radius where the antenna is able to
see to the horizon. It is more efficient to use small transmit-
ters as repeater units that retransmit the main station signal
further afield. The issue, in many cases, is that a community
station cannot efficiently cover the targeted populace due to
regulators’ demands for additional licensing fees to acquire a
second frequency for rebroadcasting to a greater radius of
distance and population. This becomes prohibitively expen-
sive given that the first frequency may have cost several
thousand dollars without even having the fees demanded for
a second rebroadcast frequency.
If radio is to be utilized to serve community needs as an in-
strument for education, training, and information then a first
step will be the deregulation of the airwaves by governments
for community broadcasters coupled with appropriate ad-
ministration fees. However, with deregulation comes com-
petition by many stations for listening audiences at the local
! !! ! 35 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
The tools for education for all
and the infrastructure and skills
for delivering education are
readily available if governments
are willing to allow radio to pro-
liferate at the community level.
level. In India, there are proposals to circumvent govern-
ment regulations concerning community radio by rebroad-
casting Internet streamed audio programming via speakers
mounted throughout the village area (Metha).
If education for all is to be achieved, then the potential for
radio, as an effective delivery device to disadvantaged
groups, will have to be harnessed. This can only be achieved
with the commitment of governments to allow for the devel-
opment of community
broadcasting. The benefits that
radio can bring to the overall
welfare of a nation are
potentially great. It is
economically the best solution
for reaching large numbers of
people with information and
educational content. The tools
for education for all and the
infrastructure and skills for
delivering education are readily
available if governments are willing to allow radio to prolif-
erate at the community level.
Radio is an effective system for delivery of education to
large numbers of people. It facilitates information exchange
at the community level, acting as a “community telephone”
and can be effective in literacy and formal/non-formal edu-
cation. Analogue systems for radio will be supplanted by
digital broadcasting in the coming decade, however digital
radio will pose issues including cost of radio receivers and
renewal of broadcasting infrastructure. Analogue radio sys-
tems, such as the portable solution that COL and others have
utilized in community FM radio initiatives, can be effective
in delivering education to the masses without the high infra-
structure costs associated with radio broadcasting. With
community broadcasting not only can broadcasters focus on
addressing local needs through their own produced pro-
gramming, but also have the choice among a tremendous
variety of quality educational content that is available via
rebroadcast from national and international sources whether
it is delivered via satellite or the Internet. Rebroadcasting
also should be balanced with the needs of the local commu-
nity and the provision of appropriate and relevant program-
ming content.
There is a marriage between the digital and the FM analogue
systems that is taking place. The convergence also includes
Internet streamed audio-based broadcasters that can effec-
tively be employed by the community FM station in a re-
broadcast mode.
Will we be able to say in ten years that radio's potential for
educational delivery to millions of disadvantaged groups has
finally been realized? With the many varied formulas for
convergence of digital and analogue technology and the vast
selection of content and tools to create original culturally
sensitive material for education at the community level, we
state clearly - yes. But will the bodies that regulate frequen-
cies for community radio initiatives reform regulations to
reflect the current technological developments and pressing
need for mass media to meet the
goal for education for all in the
next ten years? We can only hope.
The past ten years and the lack of
fulfillment of Jomtien are a heavy
burden to bear. The next ten
should see the harnessing of radio,
analogue, and more so digital, as
the powerhouse for delivery of
education. Governments should be
prepared to adjust broadcasting
regulations to adhere to
technological developments and realities, and also consider
community based mass media delivery as an effective solu-
tion for improving a nation's human resource development
towards the goal of education for all.
Burke, A. Communications & Development: a practical
guide. London: Department for International Development,
Girard, B. Radio Broadcasting and the Internet: Converging
for Development and Democracy. Voices, Journal on
Communication and Development, December 1999.
Mehta, A. Community Internet Radio Proposal.
Walker, D. FM Radio Stations: Broadcasting with the Sun.
TechKnowLogia, (www.techknowlogia.org), March 2000.

Gajaraj Dhanarajan is President and Chief Executive Offi-
cer, The Commonwealth of Learning. David Walker is Edu-
cation Specialist, (Educational Technology/Media), at The
Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, British Columbia,
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Co mp ut er s fo r Child r en:
Fr o m t he Beaches o f Califo r nia t o t he Slums o f Ind ia
By So nia Jur ich
Throughout human history, children have used play as a tool
for socialization. While at play, children learn and practice
the rules governing their social relationships, and the many
intricacies of living and working in society. In the early
1920s, the prominent educator John Dewey expressed a con-
cern that schooling was leaving play - and motivation - out-
side the learning process. His words went unheard. The
constructivist theory has again focused on the importance of
play to learning. Through play, children develop both crea-
tivity and skill mastery. They learn si-
multaneously how to ask questions and
find answers. Moreover, they develop the
motivation to keep asking, to explore the
world around them. As society changes,
so do the ways children play. Over the
past two decades, computers, and their
close relatives, the video-game machines,
have penetrated the childhood world, ei-
ther directly or through advertisement and
hearsay. Adults comment how easily
children master the use of these machines,
as if they have some mysterious gene for
technology that is missing in the older generations. Experts
have prompt explanations for this ability, ranging from be-
havior modeling, to simple childhood curiosity coupled by a
lack of fear about technology.
Lear ning while p laying :
An o ld t r ut h t hat we insist o n fo r g et t ing
Unfortunately, researchers are too concerned with controlling
the environment to "let it go," and observe what really hap-
pens when children encounter a computer for the first time.
Do the children immediately interact with the computer, as if
"equipped" with innate instructions for its use? Do they
learn slowly, through trial and error? How far can they go
without an adult's interference? A search of three databases
(ERIC, Sociological Abstracts, and Anthropological Litera-
ture), within a five-year frame, found four research reports
on children and computers where adult intervention was kept
to a minimum.
Two of these reports referred to experiments in after-school
clubs in California and North Carolina, U.S.A. (Mayer,
Quilici & Moreno, 1999; Mayer, Schustack & Blanton,
1999). The research focused on what children learn when
using computers in informal settings, and if they can gener-
alize their learning to different contexts. The participants,
who attended nearby elementary schools, were mostly chil-
dren from low-income, immigrant families, speaking limited
English. Although the researchers did not state whether the
children had access to computers at home
or school, their demographic characteris-
tics strongly suggest that they did not.
The children's task was to solve mathe-
matical puzzles in the computer with
minimum help from adults. Written task
cards explained the program and the crite-
ria for moving from one task to another.
Only after mastering one puzzle, could the
children move to another. Children who
acquired sufficient mastery could achieve
the status of Young Assistant to the Wiz-
ards. Wizards were the adult mentors
available to help the children on an as needed basis. The
children could also write messages to an imaginary Wizard
using the word processor. After doing a set of problems on
the computer, the children had to solve a different set of pen-
cil-and-paper mathematical puzzles. Researchers found that
club attendance was positively related to the ability to solve
the written puzzles (children who frequented the club solved
more problems than those who did not attend the club).
That the mathematical skills acquired with computers can be
generalized to paper-and-pencil problems is an exciting
finding. Exciting also are two other phenomena that the
researchers report almost as an afterthought. First, under
minimum adult supervision, cooperative learning was a
spontaneous arrangement. Cooperation characterized the
children's interactions with each other, rather than competi-
tion. Second, despite the children's economic limitations and
cultural differences, the learning process seemed to blossom
quite easily. Children who had visited the club 10 to 20
times were considered regular attendees. Within this limited
Unfo r t unat ely, r esear cher s
ar e t o o co ncer ned wit h co n-
t r o lling t he envir o nment t o
" let it g o ," and o b ser ve what
r eally hap p ens when child r en
enco unt er a co mput er fo r
t he fir st t ime.
! !! ! 37 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
… t he r esear cher
no t ed t hat so me
child r en exp r essed
a sense o f t r iump h
when t hey felt t hey
" co nq uer ed " t he
use o f a mo use.
time, the children had learned how to use the computers.
Even more, they had also learned how to solve mathematical
Mo t ivat io n . . . mo t ivat io n . . . and mo t ivat io n
The second report (Mayer, Schustack & Blanton, 1999) takes
the previous experiment a little farther. Researchers com-
pared the regular attendees to the children who used the clubs
sporadically (less than 10 visits). Then, they examined the
relationship between computer expertise and important com-
ponents of the learning process, such as the ability to under-
stand procedures and follow directions. Finally, they evalu-
ated the relationship between computer expertise and aca-
demic achievement, measured through scores in mathematics
and reading tests. As expected, researchers found that the
regular attendees showed greater computer expertise than the
infrequent users. They were also more skilled in the use of
computers, and had more facility to learn new games and
comprehend directions than the sporadic users. In addition,
they outscored their peers in math and reading tests.
We can argue that the children
were frequent attendees be-
cause they were more
motivated to learn. Motivation
was probably the reason for
their ability to learn how to use
the computer with little or no
adult intervention, and their suc-
cess in all the evaluative
measures. Another possible
explanation though, is that the
handling of the computers
elicited the motivation, at least for some children, and was at
the base of their learning. Findings in an experiment with
very young children, aged 3 to 5, in a daycare center in
Texas, U.S.A., support the proposal that computers can cap-
ture children's attention for longer periods than regular
school activities (Liu, 1996). In this experiment, the re-
searcher used a multimedia program based on The Jungle
Book. The program aimed to teach young children about
spatial relationships (in and out, up and down) with the help
of sound and graphics. Almost 60 percent of the children
had never seen a computer before. However, they were
ready to use the mouse with no adult help. They stayed on a
task for periods varying from 24 to 35 minutes, longer than
the 15 to 20 minutes considered ideal for school activities at
that age level. They were also able to wait for their turn on
the machine, and to share their enjoyment with friends
(forcing some recalcitrant parents to allow their children to
enter the experiment).
A wo r ld t o co nq uer
In the Texas experiment, the researcher noted that some chil-
dren expressed a sense of triumph when they felt they "con-
quered" the use of a mouse (Liu, 1996, p.87). Control over
the environment is also a factor when New York City's
school children play video games, according to Blumberg
(1998). In this experiment, the researcher invited middle-
class children, whose ages varied from 7 to 12 years old, to
play a commercial video game. After 10 minutes of play, the
researcher asked the children about what they were thinking
during the play, and how would they teach another person
how to play the game. As expected, children who were more
familiar with video games, in general, were more successful
in the game than children who were infrequent players.
Younger children (second graders) were more likely to at-
tribute their motivation to feelings of satisfaction ("I like it,"
"It is easy"). They were not concerned with rules or strate-
gies, and independent of their scores, they would see them-
selves as successful players. Older children (fifth graders)
were quite purposeful in their motivation: they wanted to
win. Their attention was focused on the rules, hidden se-
crets, and special cues that would help them attain that goal.
They were able to develop strategies and communicate them
to a potential new player. Again, the report does not explain
how the children who had never seen the game (nine of
them), learned how to play. It does not appear that the adults
explained the rules. We can only wonder if the impulse to
conquer the machine, and the certainty that they could con-
quer it, was the children's motivation to engage in the learn-
ing process.
As the four research reports show, children seem ready to
learn how to handle computers with little or no instruction.
It is true that all these experiments were done in the United
States, a country where (supposedly) computers are every-
where and no children are totally computer illiterate. Al-
though some children in those experiments did not have
computers, one may argue that they knew someone who had,
or that they had seen computers being manipulated else-
where. This would explain their effortless relationship with
the machines. Adults are ready to find easy explanations to
avoid complex answers.
It is o nly a g ame . . . a g ame o f lear ning
Sugata Mitra and Vivek Rana are two Indian researchers who
decided not to accept easy explanations. Their experiment
occurred in a slum in New Delhi, India, where most children
do not go to school, and have no access to computers. For
this experiment, the researchers placed a computer, con-
nected to the Web, enclosed in an outdoor kiosk, at the bor-
der of a slum. The monitor was visible through a glass plate
built into a wall that contained a touch pad. A video camera,
placed on a nearby tree, recorded the activity inside the ki-
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osk. CPU activity was monitored from another computer
inside the office. The researchers turned on the kiosk with-
out any announcements or instructions. The dwellers had
different feelings about the kiosk. While the elder residents
were concerned with the computer's security, the children
were excited. "What is a computer?" they asked, "Is it a
video-game?" What follows is a summary of Mitra & Rana's
accounts (Mitra & Rana, 1999).
The first users of the Kiosk were the little boys, ages 6 to 12,
who started playing around with the touch pad, enjoying the
movement of the pointer. In a few hours, they had learned
that they could click on the pad and something would appear
on the screen. Because the pointer would change from an
arrow into a hand, they easily learned what could be "click-
able," and started playing with the different
icons. In the next two days the children had
opened the "start menu," the "my computer"
icon and other windows. They also discov-
ered a slum dweller who was computer liter-
ate, and made him their local helper to ad-
vance their explorations. Within two weeks,
the researchers had to remove about 200 shortcuts from the
desktop, only to see another 850 shortcuts developed in the
same day. The children were reaching the Web and visiting
sites. They were also using applications, such as the calcu-
lator and the MS paint. Within 20 days, the children had
learned how to maximize and minimize windows. Someone
had changed the Internet home page option and the wallpaper
setting. Others had made pictures with the paint application.
The children would form impromptu classes to teach one
another. For lack of formal instruction in computer termi-
nology, they created their own names, such as "needle" (sui)
to indicate the pointer, or "channels" for the web pages.
They wrote short messages using the word processor, despite
the lack of a keyboard. A proposal to remove the kiosk was
met with great opposition by the children. Throughout the
experiment, the adults, both men and women, had not tried to
use the kiosk. They had not even approached it. However,
they also opposed the kiosk's closure, because they felt it was
good for the children.
Noronha (1999) reports another experiment with unsuper-
vised learning of computers. In the village of Udang, West
Bengal, India, a team of researchers placed a few computers
in a rural school. They allowed the children to use the com-
puters after minimum instruction. Soon, both teachers and
students had learned how to use the word processing, spread-
sheets and database management systems. In the process,
they created a rural resources and health care database.
The Indian children were not afraid of computers, probably
because they saw the machine as another toy. Interesting
enough, the computer seems to be a toy that brings coopera-
tion, rather than competition. The children in New Delhi
worked together to conquer the machine, as did the children
in California and North Carolina. They were not afraid of
the unknown, neither were the children in Texas. They were
also proud of their conquest, as were the children in New
York and Texas. They did not refuse adults' help, and, as the
Indian experiment shows, they even searched for it. They
realize that the help of an "expert" was necessary to enrich
their learning process. Everywhere children are telling us
that computers are no more than big and fun toys, and that
we all can play (and learn) together. Adults, who forgot how
to play, have been unable to use the computer's potential to
bring curiosity, and learning, into the classrooms. Most of
all, they have been unable to perceive the computer's poten-
tial to transform any place - including a little kiosk at the
borders of a slum - into active classrooms.
Refer ences:
Blumberg, F. C. (1998). Developmental
differences at play: children's selective
attention and performance in video
games. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 19
(4): 615-624.
Liu, M. (1996). An exploratory study of how pre-
kindergarten children use the interactive multimedia
technology: implications for multimedia software design.
Journal of Computing in Childhood Education, 7 (1/2): 71-
Mayer, R.E., Quilici, J.L., & Moreno, R. (1999). What is
learned in an after-school computer club? Journal of Educa-
tional Computing Research, 20 (3): 223-235.
Mayer, R.E., Schustack, M.W., & Blanton, W.E. (1999).
What do children learn from using computers in an informal,
collaborative setting? Educational Technology, 39 (2): 27-
Mitra, S., & Rana, V. (1999). Children and the Internet: an
experiment with minimally invasive education in India.
Available at:
Noronha, F. (1999). Indian experiment shows how slum-kids
speedily take to computers. Available at:
A p r o p o sal t o r emo ve t he
kio sk was met wit h g r eat
o p p o sit io n b y t he child r en.
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Status Report 1
* ** *
Hilary Perraton and Charlotte Creed
International Research Foundation for Open Learning

This is the executive summary of a review conducted by the authors for the International Consultative Forum on Education
for All (EFA), as part of the EFA 2000 Assessment activities in preparation for the World Education Forum, Dakar, April 26-
28, 2000. The review was coordinated by DFID on behalf of the Forum. Used by permission of the Executive Secretariat of
the Forum.
There are three starting assumptions for a review of the use
of information and communication technology to support
basic education. First, there is no practical substitute for pri-
mary schools so that the role of the technologies is to support
primary education, not to replace it. Second, the technologies
may, however, play a part in meeting the needs of children or
adults who cannot get to school or conventional class. Third,
it makes sense to look at the technologies together, from
print to broadcasting to computers.
We have used the following working definitions:
Telematics is the combined use of telecommunication and
computer technology. New information technologies, and
information and communication technologies, are synonyms
for telematics.
Distance education is an educational process in which
someone removed in space and/or time from the learner con-
ducts a significant proportion of the teaching.
Open learning is an organized educational activity, based on
the use of teaching materials, in which constraints on study
are minimized in terms of access, or of time and place, pace,
method of study, or any combination of these.
Open and distance learning is an umbrella term covering
distance education, open learning, and the use of telematics
in education.
Computer-based learning is the use of computers in educa-
tion to provide programs that deliver instruction, to facilitate
communication between learner and tutor, or to enable stu-
dents to have access to remote sources of information.
It is useful to distinguish between a variety of different appli-
cations of the various technologies to basic education. Com-
puters have been used within schools both to support teach-
ing and for school linking. Radio and television have been
used in various formats for education within school. Open
and distance learning has been used for two main purposes:
to offer an out-of-school alternative to junior secondary edu-
cation and for teacher education, where computer technolo-
gies are also beginning to be used. Broadcasting and other
technologies have been widely used for the nonformal edu-
cation of adults.
At the time of the World Conference on Education for All,
March 1990, Jomtien, Thailand, it was argued that the po-
tential of the new communication technologies had not been
fully realized although there was, by that date, well-
documented experience of their use for a range of educa-
tional purposes. This included the work of out-of-school in-
stitutions, notably in Latin America, which were providing
an alternative to formal schooling; the use of radio and tele-
vision to raise school quality; the use of radio, with other
technologies, for adult education and extension; and teacher
education through open and distance learning. At that time,
some open universities, notably in Asia, were beginning to
work in basic education; computers were coming into class-
rooms in the north; and the two new specialized agencies, the
Commonwealth of Learning and the Centre International
Francophone de Formation à Distance, were beginning to
promote international cooperation in and through distance
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Educational expansion and constraint over the last decade
form the backdrop to any examination of the role of technol-
ogy. The constraints on expansion mean that there remain
large numbers of children outside school, especially in sub-
Saharan Africa and south Asia, and large numbers of adults
who missed schooling. One remarkable and consistent pat-
tern is important: that, in all parts of the developing world,
female enrolment in education, at primary, secondary and
tertiary levels, has been growing faster than male.
The environment within which technologies are applied to
education has also been changing. The process towards dig-
itization has brought a convergence between different media
and technologies. Schools and colleges all round the world
have begun to use the Internet. At the same time, the process
has been far from uniform and there is a widening gap be-
tween those with, and without, access to computer-based
technologies. In many parts of the world, communications
have also been deregulated and privatized, offering new
kinds of access to communication technology but sometimes
reducing the free access previously enjoyed by educators.
Within the world of development communication there has
been a new emphasis on participatory methodologies, which
has affected programs of basic education, especially in out-
of-school settings. One significant change in the formal sec-
tor has been the new legitimacy of open and distance learn-
ing, marked by the establishment of open universities in
many countries but affecting education at all levels.
Despite the convergence between technologies, it is conven-
ient to distinguish between the various uses of computers,
broadcasting, and distance education.
Computers have been used in the classroom for five different
reasons: to build up a workforce with skills in information
technology; to educate all future citizens about the technolo-
gies; to change the curriculum often by using computer-
assisted learning; to promote change in education; and to
give access to the Internet and email. The last of these has
achieved particular prominence and attention in the last few
years. The choice of rationale determines the level in the
education system at which it is appropriate to invest in
telematics. All rationales demand adequate investment in
staff training and in software, both often under-emphasized
in early planning. Whereas industrialized countries are mov-
ing towards the provision of computers to all classrooms,
alternative strategies for providing computer access include
the use of mobile units, the sharing of computer facilities
with other agencies, and mediated access where a third party
seeks information through computer networks on behalf of a
Broadcasting has been used to offer direct teaching in
schools, to provide enrichment programs, and for general
children's programming. One variant of direct teaching, in-
teractive radio instruction, has been widely adopted, most
often with funding support from USAID.
Distance education, which is likely to rely on other technolo-
gies - print, broadcasts, and now sometimes computers - is
being used for two main purposes in basic education: to offer
an alternative form of junior-secondary, and more rarely
primary, education, and to support teacher education.
Technologies have been used in-school, mainly to raise
quality, for out-of-school adolescents and adults, and for the
inservice training and updating of intermediaries such as
teachers and extension agents.
In-school, much attention has recently been given to the use
of computers. Some computer projects have been designed as
part of a program of curriculum development. Increasingly,
attention has gone to providing access to resources through
the Internet, the development of skills in using the Internet,
and school-linking projects in which email or computer
conferencing techniques are used for school-to-school ex-
change. As these developments have add-on costs they in-
crease the total cost per student.
Computers have not eclipsed broadcasting and both televi-
sion and radio continue to be used in schools. A series of
interactive radio instruction projects, in which students are
active in the classroom, responding to the radio teacher, have
been run in many parts of the world. The projects have been
successful in increasing student learning. Interactive radio
demands heavy investment in curriculum development and
its costs mean that the projects have not always been sustain-
able once initial donor funding has been withdrawn. (see
TechKnowLogia, Sept./Oct. 1999 Issue, "Radio: Wiring the
Schools with Wireless").
Various communication technologies have been used for
audiences outside school. The unsatisfied demand for junior
secondary education has led to a number of open and dis-
tance learning programs. Telesecundaria in Mexico (see
TechKnowLogia, September/October 1999 Issue, "Mexico's
Telesecundaria") is a television-based, rural, system offering
secondary education that has been running for more than a
quarter century and is a regular part of the national system of
education. In Asia, open schools, relying more heavily on
printed materials, have been established, notably in India and
Indonesia, and have plans for large-scale expansion. Educa-
tion out-of-school is not limited to the formal curriculum and
also includes community-based educational projects, some of
them beginning to use small-scale community radio, health
campaigns and a wide range of projects for adult basic edu-
! !! ! 41 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
cation. Some have used group study; many have been sup-
ported and organized by NGOs. Many have worked well
with small audiences but have had difficulty in moving to
scale or establishing the links with government agencies that
would be necessary for this kind of expansion. The estab-
lishment of telecenters, open access centers at which, for a
fee, individuals can get access to computer technologies and
use the Internet, may provide new opportunities for informal
and nonformal education. (see TechKnowLogia, Sept./Oct.
1999 Issue, Ghana: Networking For Local Development -
How You Can Use A Computer without Owning One;
Nov./Dec. 1999 Issue, AMIC@S in Asuncion: Leapfrogging
The new technologies have been used in various ways to
meet the needs of deprived and marginalized children, from
those in remote areas to street children, refugees, and war
victims. Within industrialized countries Internet-based ap-
proaches have been used to meet the educational needs of
migrant children. Radio and distance education have been
used for the education of refugees. Broadcasting has been
used for children in war zones on, for example, the hazards
of land mines and to provide health education.
A variety of technologies have been used to provide in-
service education and training for teachers, and to a lesser
extent for agricultural and health extension agents. Some
programs are designed to make resources available to teach-
ers, without a formal teaching structure. In other cases, for-
mal programs have been run, in most parts of the world, us-
ing distance education for teachers. Programs have usually
engendered high motivation, especially where linked with
improved qualifications and increased pay. Distance educa-
tion for teacher training has proved to be effective, both in
terms of examination pass rates and in raising teachers' ca-
pacities in the classroom.
Outcomes may be assessed in terms of widening access, of
improving quality, or of changing the curriculum. In princi-
ple, the use of mass media should widen access and there are
examples of alternative systems of education that reach stu-
dents who would otherwise be deprived of education. At the
same time, the use of information and communication tech-
nologies may have the opposite effect, allowing the privi-
leged access to learning through computer technology that is
denied to others. There is evidence of qualitative improve-
ment from programs using distance education for teacher
training and from the use of broadcasts in the classroom.
Projects using both broadcasts and computers have been suc-
cessful in helping a process of curriculum change. We have,
however, few evaluations of the use of computers in the
classroom, even from industrialized countries with signifi-
cant national investment.
Comparison between the costs of conventional and technol-
ogy-based education is necessarily complex. The balance
between fixed and variable costs is different in these two
sectors. Economies of scale may be achieved in broadcasting
or distance education so that, to determine the unit cost of a
program, we need to know the number of students. At the
same time, many uses of technology demand elements of
individual support to which these economies do not apply.
Programs to raise the quality of education generally increase
costs: they are not usually designed to reduce conventional
staffing so that the costs of providing broadcasts or intro-
ducing computers are normally additional to regular educa-
tional costs.
Differing levels of salary make international comparison of
costs difficult but, for what it is worth, evidence from a num-
ber of countries suggests that interactive radio annual costs
per student are likely to be in the range $3 to $8, for student
numbers in the range of 100,000 to 1,000,000. A small num-
ber of studies of the costs of computers in schools, where
economies of scale are unlikely to apply, are several times as
great with figures in the range $18 to $63. The evidence is
consistent in showing that television has higher costs than
radio - sometimes ten times as high - and that computer-
based learning is likely to have markedly higher costs than
radio. Out-of-school distance-education projects have com-
pared favorably in cost per student with conventional
schooling; only if their success rate is adequately high do
their costs per successful student compare favorably. The
limited data available on adult basic education suggests that
the costs compare favorably with face-to-face education for
adults but are usually significantly higher, if measured in
cost per learning hour, than the costs of primary education.
Inservice education of teachers using distance-teaching
methods has often cost only between one-third and two-
thirds those of conventional teacher education.
The evidence, from television to computers, is that projects
are likely to be at risk if they are at the leading edge of tech-
nology; education is likely to do better, in terms of costs and
servicing of equipment, if it follows entertainment and com-
merce rather than leads it. If technological innovation is to be
sustainable it needs to generate a sense of ownership among
all the stakeholders. Innovation is also likely to need an or-
ganizational location, which allows adequate freedom for the
innovator while remaining close enough to the work of con-
ventional education and its decision-makers for it to achieve
integration with the regular education service. Sensitive is-
sues of language and gender are the norm rather than the
Many innovative projects have suffered from underinvest-
ment in training and in software, whether in the form of radio
scripts or computer software. Training is generally needed
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both for specialists involved in the development of teaching
materials and for teachers who are using them in their
schools or adult educators or extension agents in the field.
The application, and level of cost, of new technologies is
likely to lead to a search for new sources of funding. Where
new technologies increase costs there is likely to be tension
between attempts to take advantage of their capacity to
widen access and the search for ways of funding them: ac-
cess may be possible at a price only the more privileged can
pay. One consequence of adopting telematics may be to shift
responsibility for funding from the teaching institution to the
learner, or from a central institution to an individual school
or college. Downloading materials electronically, rather than
buying them commercially or receiving them through a min-
istry of education, shifts the location of costs and may in fact
increase them. At the same time, it may sometimes be possi-
ble to locate community funds by decentralizing.
Many technology projects have been launched with external
funding. Often this has excluded recurrent costs and led to
problems of sustainability when neither learners nor govern-
ments are able to meet running costs.
The funding of out-of-school education has often been on a
different basis from in-school education. Students outside
school, often politically powerless, are often asked to pay a
higher proportion of the costs of their education than of those
in school, sometimes in the expectation that they will be
earning while studying. This sometimes means that those
who receive what they perceive as being an inferior educa-
tion have to pay more than those who get the superior model.
The main challenge in applying telematics to basic education
is to find ways of achieving potential benefits without wid-
ening the gap between the information-rich and information
poor. In many countries the new technologies are of limited
application in primary schools where other needs take prior-
ity. In contrast, they are of major potential benefit for teacher
education and for strengthening the rapidly expanding junior-
secondary cycle. Broadcasting, linked with community-based
activities, and distance education have a role to play in adult
basic education, because of their potential reach and modest
cost, whether for a formal curriculum or for nonformal pur-
poses. National campaigns on AIDS prevention are an obvi-
ous and high priority. Distance-education methods have a
record of success in supporting extension agents but have so
far been under-exploited for this purpose.
Use of new communication technologies will not allow de-
veloping countries to leapfrog the industrialized world by
introducing a technology-based form of basic education.
Children need to learn in a school, while the need for techni-
cal infrastructure and training all limit the extent to which the
technologies can replace conventional education. For most
low-income countries, the cost of computer-based education
far exceeds the cost of conventional education.
Sound decisions about the use of information and communi-
cation policies will be facilitated where there is a national
communications policy, and a policy for educational com-
munications within it. This will embrace linguistic and cul-
tural issues. It will need to take account of the use to be made
by the education service of the new technologies and educa-
tion's role in providing education about them. In developing
such a policy a key need, as yet unmet by research, is for full
and disinterested information about the costs and effects of
the various technologies available for education.
Eight main conclusions follow from the evidence and analy-
♦ There is no alternative to primary school. Technology-
based alternatives have not thrived.
♦ Computers have been used in primary schools but in a
modest way, sometimes mainly for games. They are
more important higher up the educational system.
♦ Radio can enrich and extend basic education at costs
much more modest than those of television or comput-
♦ The demands for junior-secondary education, and the
potential of the technologies, suggest that their use
should be expanded to raise quality and widen access at
junior-secondary level.
♦ There are promising models for out-of-school equiva-
lence at this level.
♦ Despite the mixed record of nonformal education, the
social and educational needs of adults are so great that
there is a case for continuing and expanding use of the
technologies here.
♦ National policies need to be developed that seek to use
new technologies cost-effectively while avoiding wid-
ening the gap between the information-rich and the in-
♦ The use of communication technologies for teachers and
extension agents, with its multiplier effect, merits in-
vestment as a cost-effective way of raising educational
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Status Report 2
To day an d To day an d To day an d To day an d To m o r r o w To m o r r o w To m o r r o w To m o r r o w
∗ ∗∗ ∗

This article is derived from a study, Textbooks & Learning Materials 1990-1999: A Global Survey, prepared by Ian Montag-
nes for the International Consultative Forum on Education for All (EFA), as part of the EFA 2000 Assessment activities in
preparation for the World Education Forum, Dakar, April 26-28, 2000. The study was coordinated by DFID on behalf of the
Forum. Used by permission of the Executive Secretariat of the Forum.
I m po rt ance o f Text bo o ks
“In many countries of the developing world, the text-
book is the major, if not the only, medium of instruc-
tion. It is the main resource for teachers, setting out
the general guidelines of the syllabus in concrete
form, providing a guide and foundation to the con-
tent, order, and pacing of instruction, supplying ex-
ercises and assignments for students to practice what
they have learned. It is both a source of essential in-
formation and the basis for examination and ap-
praisal.” (Montagnes, 1999, p. 1)
! Textbooks are the most widely used educational tech-
nology because textbooks:
▪ are cheap, easy to use, easily portable, and familiar;
▪ can be used even in places where there is no reliable
supply of electricity;
▪ complement the training of under-prepared teachers
who are pressed into service to meet the demand of
increasing student enrollment; and
▪ may be the only introduction to literacy for students
in areas with no easy access to newspapers, maga-
zines or other reading materials.

! Textbooks should be accompanied by a teacher’s guide
▪ outlines innovative ways of teaching a particular
▪ suggests class activities to reinforce the content; and
▪ provides examples of exercises and assignments.
! However, teacher’s guides are seldom available in de-
veloping countries. When available, they are often de-
signed without consideration of the teacher’s level of
training, or the conditions under which the guides will
be used (for instance, small print is difficult to read in
the poor lighting of rural communities).
Text bo o k A vai l abi l i t y
! The ideal target of one textbook per pupil may be un-
necessarily expensive. A study in Philippines suggests
that, when textbooks are the property of the school and
are not taken home, there is only a marginal difference
between ratios of 1:1 and 1:2. Some studies even con-
sider ratios of 1:3.
! However, the number of textbooks per pupil in devel-
oping countries is generally much lower. In addition,
the availability of textbooks has decreased in the past
decades, due to an increase in enrollment, accompanied
by no increase, or a decrease in funding for education.
! In general, textbook availability is higher in cities and
towns than in rural areas. Areas that are difficult to
reach had the fewest books, sometimes none. For in-
stance, a summary of book sector studies on Angola,
Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania recorded primary-level
textbook per pupil ratios of 2:3 or better in urban areas,
but 1:20 or worse elsewhere.
! Variations in availability are also related to:
▪ subjects and grades (e.g. a survey of grades 1 to 5
in six South American countries found that while
70% of the students had textbooks in Spanish lan-
guage, only 30% had textbooks in mathematics and
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fewer than 10% had science and social science text-
▪ buyer’s purchase power (e.g. in provinces of China,
teachers in the poorest areas sometimes bought
books for children from their own salaries); and
▪ price (in countries that import books, prices can be
Qual i t y o f Text bo o ks
! Studies indicate that textbooks used in many countries
are of less than desirable quality. Some of the problems
▪ poor instructional design, particularly in the scope
and sequence of material (e.g. books are too diffi-
cult for early grade students);
▪ poor printing quality (e.g. paper is easily destroyed,
pages are lost because of inadequate binding); and
▪ significant errors in facts, grammar, illustrations,
and a poor choice of language or script.
! In addition, these textbooks tend to:
▪ reinforce gender stereotypes;
▪ disregard the language spoken by the majority of the
country’s population (e.g. in many African coun-
tries, books are written in English, French, or Portu-
guese, even though in any one country fewer than
20% of the population was likely to be literate in
any one of these languages); and
▪ reproduce European experiences and values, irrele-
vant to the users’ cultures (e.g., fifth grade students
in Nepal learn that “Sushilla took a bus to the zoo,”
although 60% of children living in the mountains
had never seen a wheel).

! Problems with quality are being gradually addressed. To
address cultural relevance, many developing countries
are using local experts to write. Some countries are also
addressing gender stereotypes (e.g., in Costa Rica, new
books increased the representation of women and girls in
textbook illustrations, where they are shown in inde-
pendent roles).

Suppl em en t ary M at eri al s

! Supplementary materials expand upon the information in
the textbook. They may range from chalk and black-
boards to educational television and interactive comput-
erized lessons. Where textbooks are in short supply,
supplementary materials are even less common.
! The most common supplementary materials are charts,
chalkboards, slates, mathematics sets, and books. In
some schools, the teachers must create their own in-
structional materials.
! Some countries are actively exploring the potential of
computers for education. In the early 1990s, India,
Mexico, and Tunisia were teaching computer literacy at
the primary level. Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, and Sé-
négal were using computers to develop critical thinking,
creativity, and problem solving. A survey of 14 urban
and rural schools in Egypt found that most of the schools
had a computer and several software programs.
! School libraries and supplementary reading materials
have received growing attention in the past decade. In-
donesia developed 117,000 school libraries with a total
collection of about 106 million books, an average of 900
per school. Jamaica provides a substantial annual allo-
cation for school libraries and its library services is a
model for the Caribbean region.
! Some countries are developing community resource
centers connected to schools, and widely used by teach-
ers and students. For instance, the Ghana Book Trust,
supported by CODE, bought about US$45,000 worth of
books in the mid-1990s, all of them written and pub-
lished by Ghanaians, and distributed them to community
libraries throughout the country.
Text bo o k pro vi si o n
! Students in public schools across the globe receive text-
books in three possible ways:
▪ Free of charge, provided by the state - This practice
aims to ensure equity and is common in countries of
Asia, Africa, and Latin America, mostly for students
at the primary level. Generally, the books are lent
to the students and must be returned at the end of
the year;
▪ Sold through commercial channels - In this case,
parents buy the books through retail outlets. This
practice inevitably leads to inequities that favors the
wealthy and those who live in urban areas;
▪ Book rental - Under this method, a school may buy
or receive the textbooks and issue them to students
in return for an annual fee. This practice enables
the schools to amortize the cost of books, while
avoiding having parents bear the cost through indi-
vidual purchases.

! In virtually every country of the world, the state is in-
volved to some extent in the provision of learning mate-
rials, at the very least by establishing the curricula on
which school books are based and, even in the freest of
markets, by buying some or all of the materials used in
the public school system.
! In many countries, state-owned or parastatal organiza-
tions have the monopoly of textbook publication. Even
in countries with large commercial publishing industries,
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such as India, the state might retain responsibility for
publishing textbooks for the public system. In others,
local companies, sometimes in joint ventures with for-
eign publishers, have entered the market. Regional co-
operation in publishing is still rare.
! Despite some increase in locally developed publications,
exports from European countries to former colonies are
still significant. Partnerships between foreign and local
publishers are also expanding (e.g. Canada’s Fraternité
Matin joined Jamana in Mali to publish grammar books).
International agencies, such as UNESCO, played an ac-
tive part in joint ventures.
! Constraints related to the provision of textbooks to pub-
lic schools include:
▪ Financing - Textbook publishing is a capital-
intensive business that may require two to three
years to recoup the initial investment. Investors
find textbook publishing unattractive, and govern-
mental investment is dependent on economic stabil-
ity. Nigeria, for instance, established an Education
Trust Fund, analogous to its agricultural develop-
ment banks, to provide soft loans to publishers and
others involved in producing learning materials.
▪ Production - Costs vary according to many factors,
such as local availability of paper, printers, and
transport, mismatches in equipment, and protec-
tionist tariffs. Paper remains the principal expense.
▪ Distribution – Geographical obstacles, poor condi-
tion of roads and scarcity of trucking are significant
challenges for the distribution of textbooks in de-
veloping countries. State-supported distribution
systems are hampered by lack of funds and storage
place. In countries where books are sold through
retail outlets, bookstores tend to be scarce in the ur-
ban center and almost unknown outside the cities.
Kenya sought to resolve the problem by consoli-
dating school orders for textbooks at the district
level and then ordering the books from local book-
sellers. This process strengthens the retail sector
and reduces the discrepancies that occurred under
central procurement.
▪ Information - Efficient provision requires accurate
and timely information on which to project enrol-
ments and textbook needs by school, grade and
subject. This kind of information is difficult in
countries where communication by telephone or
mail is unreliable. Moreover, centralization may in-
crease errors, as the data moves through the many
bureaucratic layers.
▪ Human resources - The lack of professionally
trained staff is a challenge for both state and private
publishers in most countries. Training on this area
has received more attention in the past decade. The
African Publishing Institute is a training wing of the
African Publishers’ Network (APNET), established
in 1992 with the help of several funding agencies,
both governmental and NGO. The Institute runs
national and regional workshops, using a compre-
hensive syllabus in book publishing and manage-
ment. The Asian Cultural Center for UNESCO,
supported by the Japanese Ministry of Education
and the Japan Book Publishers Association, runs a
similar initiative for Asia and Oceania.

! The following trends characterized the provision of
books in the second half of the 1990s:
▪ decentralization of selection and procurement, with
more involvement of local governments and
stakeholders, including teachers, parents, students;
▪ economic liberalization with a greater role for the
private sector, particularly in countries with an al-
ready established publishing sector; and
▪ cost recovery to achieve systemic sustainability
through improved efficiency in production and gov-
ernmental support.

Lo o ki ng t o t he Fut ure

! The trends towards decentralization and liberalization in
textbook production and publishing will continue to re-
duce the inefficiencies of centralized government opera-
tions. It is expected that competition and local choice
will produce better textbooks, which are pedagogically
innovative and more appropriate for their users.
! Textbooks produced by the private sector for sale should
be steadily available as long as they are in demand, re-
placing the peak-and-valley system that characterized
many state-based systems (replacement of books in core
subjects in one or two grades per year, followed by
minimal attention to those grades while the needs of
other grades are addressed, followed by the wholesale
need for replacement in the original grades).
! The rate of increase in the primary school-age popula-
tion worldwide will slow down in the first decade of the
21st century, relieving the strain on some national
economies. Eastern Europe and Central Asia are already
showing a decline in enrolment rates, and a similar de-
cline is expected to occur in the next decade in East Asia
and Latin America. A slower, but steady increase of
primary-school-age children is expected in sub-Saharan
Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.
These regions include the countries where the book
shortage is greatest and poverty most severe.
! Partial or full cost recovery policies will relieve the bur-
den on government and reduce dependence on external
assistance. However, these policies may penalize the
most disadvantaged sectors of society. Targeted subsi-
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dies may reduce the impact on some of those affected,
but not necessarily all. In the Philippines, for example,
education projects funded by the World Bank and Asian
Development Bank are directed only at the poorest
provinces of the country, containing little more than one-
third of the country’s poor. The government is left to
find the money for the rest. A concentration on rural
poverty does nothing to assist the urban poor who
populate the slums of Manila.
! Government support for education will continue to be
restricted by national poverty, fiscal austerity related to
structural adjustment, conflicting priorities, inefficient
collection of taxes, poor management, and, in many
countries, war.
! Supplementary reading and other learning materials, and
school libraries, will continue to have a lower priority
than textbooks and work books in strained fiscal budg-
eting. The textbook will remain the sole resource in edu-
cation, for teacher and student alike.
W hat can be do ne?
Some of the recommendations from a worldwide survey
sponsored by ADEA/UNESCO included the following:
! Governments should:
▪ liberalize the publishing/bookselling/printing mar-
ket, if a centralized system exists, or allow the pri-
vate sector to operate freely;
▪ encourage publishers to invest in education, and of-
fer incentives, such as removing duties and taxes on
imported paper and other printing materials and
▪ revise curricula less frequently (a five-year period is
advisable) to enable cost recovery;
▪ include textbook purchase in education funding and
provide subsidies to keep prices down;
▪ encourage partnerships between local and foreign
▪ establish and maintain school and public libraries;
▪ develop comprehensive policies that place a high
priority on education. These policies should encour-
age the production and supply of books, enforce
copyright legislation, and encourage the writing,
translation, reading, and use of books.
! The private sector should:
▪ get more involved in textbook provision, through
larger investment, greater professionalism, expan-
sion of existing operations, and better distribution
▪ work together in national professional associations
to share experiences and lobby governments, and
work alongside governments in developing practi-
cable national book policies;
▪ produce more, better-quality, relevant books, en-
couraging local authors;
▪ educate teachers in the selection of appropriate ma-
terials and in ways to make the best use of the text-
books they have selected; and
▪ seek support for worthy publishing ventures from
foundations, corporations, and other non-publishing
parts of the private sector.
! Funding agencies should:
▪ take steps to share information, avoid duplication of
effort, and monitor projects effectively; consult with
publishing experts at an early stage of a new project
to ensure quality of design;
▪ support capacity-building initiatives, working
within established structures and existing organiza-
tions, sponsoring the development of rural libraries
and national library systems;
▪ add flexibility to funding schemes, and reduce strict
conditions; support small indigenous publishers
through purchase or subsidies; purchase more books
for educational institutions;
▪ provide grants for the writing of high quality text-
books and commission works in certain areas; sup-
port training in publishing and other book trade
skills, particularly in new technology, and sponsor
training programs for teacher-trainers in educational
technology and techniques;
▪ support micro-credit programs in communities to fi-
nance the making of supplementary materials (pup-
pets, cloth books, models, work cards, recorded
children’s music, etc), and support educational ini-
tiatives that incorporate local culture, including
reading materials, musical instruments, traditional
storytelling, and folk theatre; and
▪ work with governments to ensure that their pro-
grams and projects form part of an overall long-term
strategy for book development, and assist govern-
ments to develop sustainable mechanisms to ensure
and monitor the quality of learning environments.
“None of the recommendations is impossible. They
have been made by men and women - civil servants,
publishers, consultants - with practical experience in
the development and provision of learning materials.
They require action by all partners in the book chain,
from curriculum developers through to classroom
teachers. But mostly they require governments to
recognize, with actions as well as talk, that the basic
tools of education are not a drain on the national
budget but a powerful investment in the economy and
the future of the nation. When the political will is
present, the shortage of learning materials will dis-
appear.” (Montagnes, 1999, p. 106)
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I II I nf or mat i on nf or mat i on nf or mat i on nf or mat i on S SS Sys t ems f or ys t ems f or ys t ems f or ys t ems f or E EE Educat i on ducat i on ducat i on ducat i on M MM Management anagement anagement anagement
Kurt Moses
Vice President, Academy for Educational Development
Administration of a school system has always been chal-
lenging. In many centralized systems, simply supporting all
the activities of schools remains critical and challenging,
particularly in recruiting, hiring, placing, and supporting
teachers, but as well all the necessary logistical support in
terms of buildings, furniture, maintenance, instructional ma-
terials, training of staff, and all the quality control activities
surrounding good education.
The ever increasing shift to decentralization, coupled with
the escalating demands for logistical support as more schools
become more sophisticated, have placed major burdens on
Information Systems and the information they produce that
policy, managerial, and operational leaders require to ad-
minister systems properly. Whether education occurs in a
developing country with less than $150 per year to spend per
pupil or a more developed environment with $2,500 per year
to spend per pupil, many of the same, fundamental adminis-
trative issues persist.
Maj or I nf or mat i onal I s s ues
In recent years, whether systems are centralized or decen-
tralized, democracy has encouraged more stakeholders to ask
more questions about education. Some examples include:
! “Why is there no teacher in my child’s classroom?” –
Concerned Parent
! “Why are not more girls attending school?” – Commu-
nity Leader
! “Which schools in my region or district are performing
better?” – Regional Director
! “How much have we advanced in meeting our Education
for All (EFA) goals in our country?” – Minister of Edu-
With the exception of the Minister, none of those asking
questions normally have real and systematic access to infor-
mation related to their concerns. And frequently, if they do,
the timing, nature, and detail of information provided is de-
termined entirely by a central body–such as a ministry. The
distribution is often done via printed material–sometimes a
large document, sometimes a brochure, or even occasionally
a letter or newspaper article.
In many developing countries, the entire education informa-
tion system structure is inadequate for the rapidly growing
information demands. Obtaining quality education data is
often elusive, costly and frustrating. In many cases, available
data may be:
! Of poor quality (either incomplete, poorly defined, or
not comparable year to year);
! Too late to influence the current school year or policy
! Occasionally part of a 2-3 year backlog of information;
! Sometimes duplicated so that, for example, there are
four different totals for student enrollment in the same
month or year;
! Difficult to access; or
! Often directed or formatted for the wrong set of ques-
tions–occasionally leading to huge amounts of data
when a simple summary would suffice.
As importantly, those who generate the data, the teachers and
staff of schools, themselves may have little idea whether
their information reporting has been of use, has been re-
tained, or in fact has reached those who need to know. In
many countries, the flow of information is only one way–
upwards to the center.
These identified issues and particularly the one-directional
flow of information are deeply at odds with both democracy
and decentralization–the rising trends at almost all levels of
educational administration.
Educat i on I nf or mat ion Sys t em:
What I t Takes
Vision: The leadership of the most responsible educational
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body must be clear about the functions and scale of their
information needs. This vision can be informed by interna-
tional and regional practices–but it must be grounded in local
and national reality.
People: The people who will implement and support an in-
formation system must have “ownership,” understand the
role that information plays in the educational life of the
country, and be competent in its use (meaning the necessary
skills base).
Practices: Many existing practices may need to be
reengineered to accommodate changes in how and how fre-
quently information is gathered, as well as to make use of
improved technology. Practices also include setting basic
standards: timing of information, responsibility for informa-
tion, common definitions, frequency of distribution, and
clarity of presentation.
Technology: Technology should be appropriate to the func-
tions and scale of the system, and be sustainable. The very
latest technology, if unsupportable for more than one year,
soon becomes useless and can actually set a system back.
Technology requires redundancy (more than one of every-
thing), regular maintenance, supplies to keep it working, al-
ternative approaches when it fails, and people trained to di-
agnose and support its operation.
Someone Responsible: An Information System requires that
someone be responsible to keep it operating. So often in
traditional ministries or even Districts, there is no such posi-
tion as an Information Officer responsible for system inte-
gration and service. Without such a person and staff, most
Information Systems have a tenuous life. Most ministries
that anticipate this need (often as part of the Planning Unit)
rename an existing civil service position. Increasingly, an
experienced manager, not a technician, should hold this po-
sition. A manager then hires or subcontracts for the neces-
sary technical advice.
Thr ee Level s of I nf or mat i on
The design of an information system (even if it incorporates
old systems or manual procedures) should accommodate at
least three levels of information as noted in Exhibit 1 below.
These levels, in a centralized system, often correspond to the
actual administrative levels–i.e., National, District, and
School. In decentralized systems, policy and strategy level
information can be vested at the District level or with citizen
groups. Critical for proper integration is that all core data
originate from the school in some fashion. The school is the
heart of an effective education information system. The
three levels of information that need to be supported are:
Policy and Strategy Level: Policy and strategy typically
involve comparison of multiple years, from sources both
outside and inside the educational system, and often involve
macro analysis–for example, how many children of school
age are enrolled in school?
Management Level: Management questions relate to the
typical inputs of a school system - students, teachers, facili-
ties, and instructional material - and relate to performance by
groups. Management level information typically is week to
week or month to month, and involves aggregates of stu-
dents, teachers and instructional material–for example, how
many teachers were on the payroll last month?
Operational Level: Operation level information concerns
the actual, individual operation of the system and includes
detailed student and teacher count. The most critical opera-
tional element of any school system is the teacher support
system. In many developing countries and a number of tran-
sitional countries, salaries and benefits consume 80-90% of
the available budget. In most countries, the teacher payroll is
the largest single payroll in the country. Therefore, it stands
to reason that staffing and payroll information is crucial to
effective management. In many countries, staffing levels are
driven by numbers and types of students, and thus any effec-
tive education information system must be as exact as possi-
ble about numbers, level, and location of students. The same
applies to teachers. To achieve this exactness, all informa-
tion must be generated either directly from the school or
from a central payroll file–in some cases from both.
While these information distinctions are not exact, they allow
education information system designers to provide an appro-
priate amount of detail for the appropriate level of responsi-
bility and question. Unfortunately, however, many existing
systems are not designed this way.
An Exampl e of an I nt egr at ed, Mul t i -
l evel Appr oach
There is presently a system called ED*ASSIST that reflects
the above framework, in terms of its inputs and processing
components. It can be seen on the website:
www.aed.org/edassist. The product of collaborative efforts
over a five-year period involving UNESCO, the World Bank,
USAID, and several countries, its use in four countries, with
English, Spanish, and French versions is also described and
illustrated. Below are some illustrative elements of the sys-
Exhibit 2 illustrates an opening computer screen that gives
access to the three levels of information, by geographic type
(national, regional, district, sub-district, and school), by level
of education (preprimary through tertiary), by year (1997,
1996, 1995) and by special category of school (public, pri-
vate, other). This screen allows the users, from their com-
puter, to view information graphically, statistically (as a ta-
ble) or in a Geographic Information System format– i.e., a
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map. Alternatively, such information can be printed out,
incorporated into a report (another document), or linked to a
website. All the information is derived from an updated da-
tabase that either accesses other operational systems, or is
derived from survey results or other queries to schools.
Exhibit 3 shows a Graphical Student Display–ages of stu-
dents in particular grades by region. Such a presentation
provides, at the managerial level, a quick “snapshot” of the
number of over-age students in each classroom. Because it
presents multiple regions, or districts, a manager or policy
maker can quickly see patterns and comparisons. Similarly,
such presentations can be used with citizen groups to high-
light the need for action around student enrollment issues.
Exhibit 4 provides very geographically oriented information,
in this case Gross Enrollment Rates by region within a coun-
try. The colors show ranges of enrollment and quickly high-
light disparities between regions. From such a presentation,
the manager, policy maker, or citizen group (usually with
some trained assistance) can then begin to make some factual
inquiries–looking at patterns below the regional level, begin-
ning to understand the causes of under-enrollment.
Exhibit 5 shows one of the most common measures of
school resources -- the student/teacher ratio -- in a graphical
format. Such quick comparisons show where teaching re-
sources (typically the most important single factor in school
systems) are going compared to enrollments. Comparisons
at lower levels and comparisons with test performance or
levels of dropouts from the system are immediate types of
inquiries that such a report generates. Again, this type of
graphical summary, in a modern education information sys-
tem, can be accessed from the computer, via report, as a
printout, over the Web, or made into a flip chart.
Exhibit 6 provides operational level detail on teachers at
each school. As noted, this screen provides individual, de-
tailed information about the staffing complement of a par-
ticular school along with key profile items for the teacher.
Developed from school level data, these individual profiles
can answer very quickly specific queries that can be found at
almost any level of the system. For some more developed
countries, such individual information will require masking
for privacy reasons, but for the majority of countries such
information is substantially more than they can generate
Some Fut ur e Opt ions
In the not very distant future, education information systems
will become more comprehensive, faster to respond, and
considerably cheaper than they are now. Even countries with
remote areas will find that the use of satellite and other tech-
niques will become cheap enough to link individual schools
directly to administrative hubs. Similarly, the dramatically
falling price of equipment will allow even the smallest unit
(the school) to afford automated systems. Several other
trends are clear:
Information about school performance will be increas-
ingly demanded by the populations served, by freely elected
governments, and by administrators at all levels. Informa-
tion systems will need to be able to respond or the govern-
ment or private entities will be seen to be unresponsive. Al-
ready, in a few countries, there are now no technical barriers
to accessing key information about any school in the system–
simply administrative and policy barriers that limit the flow
of information.
Increasingly information will be asked about classroom
activities and how individual teachers and students perform.
This will require a new level of detail in information and an
increasing focus on the quality of education measured in a
variety of ways, and many of these measures will be exter-
nally established and monitored.
Decentralized systems will need to establish standards as
never before, monitor their implementation and insist upon
their use, particularly as long as substantial monies come
from the center and are then allocated. Standards will also be
needed to ensure that the national ministry or organization
can be an effective, well-informed advocate for national edu-
cational needs and goals.
The World Wide Web will become the key tool, both in-
ternally and externally, for the generation, exchange, and
even processing of administrative information. Virtually all-
existing systems, even in emerging countries, will need to be
converted to operate on the Web.
Administrative use of the World Wide Web will also be
aided by increasing use of the Internet for support of in-
structional material and aides to learning improvement. This
offers remarkable opportunities for synergy between learning
and monitoring on a massive, efficient and affordable scale.
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Exhibit 2
Exhibit 1
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Exhibit 3
Exhibit 4
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Exhibit 5
Exhibit 6
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So u t h Af r i ca :
Tea ch er Tr a i n i n g i n t h e Sk y
Claire Brown, Violet Sithole & Robert Hofmeyr
Shoma Education Foundation, South Africa
Ed u c a t i o n i n So u t h Af r i ca
The schooling system in South Africa is undergoing massive
transformation to improve quality of education. Outcomes-
based education and the new curriculum have been intro-
duced to South African schools and present educators in this
country with their biggest opportunity and challenge ever. It
is common cause that educators are pivotal to the success of
this change. Therefore, the challenge is to build the capacity
of our educators to become change agents, thereby enabling
them to lend impetus to this transformation.
I believe that the limited resources available and the vastness
of our country, lends itself ideally to the use of technology,
not as a luxury, but as a basic resource. The model presented
in this article begins to illustrate that technology can be ex-
tremely effective in supporting the development of educators
in the development of Outcomes Based Education
Di g i t a l Sa t el l i t e Tech n o l o g i es f o r
Tea c h er Dev el o p m en t
The Model: The The Model: The The Model: The The Model: The Shoma Educat ion Foundation Shoma Educat ion Foundation Shoma Educat ion Foundation Shoma Educat ion Foundation
The MIH Group, the holding company for MultiChoice, M-
Net and M-Web, has developed a unique model of delivering
educational and training programs for the professional devel-
opment of South African educators. The unique delivery
model uses the power of technology to leverage the delivery
of appropriate educational programs prepared in conjunction
with the national and provincial education departments. The
programs are relayed from the M-Group’s Broadcast Center
in Randburg, via satellite, to a video server linked to a televi-
sion set, and to a network server, which in turn serves 24
The model is innovative and significant in the following re-
• It is exceptional in its ability to reach and penetrate the
distant rural and urban areas often grossly neglected by
donors and cut off from investment initiatives.
• Through the use of interactive computer applications,
the project initiates rural- and township-based teachers
to appropriate and creative use of technology, thereby
supporting and bolstering the National Education De-
partment’s Technology Enhanced Learning Initiatives.
The framework for this model was developed collaboratively
with the national and provincial education departments, aca-
demics, educators and teacher organizations. Based on re-
search done, a nine-week pilot was conducted at three centers
located in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.
The South African Institute for Distance Education (SAIDE)
evaluated the pilot project, after which the project was suc-
cessfully implemented in a further seven sites. Ten centers
situated in all nine provinces are currently fully functional.
The program reaches out to thousands of educators in his-
torically disadvantaged areas to provide them with a rich
resource base that is unaffected by distance or terrestrial
networks. Also, these teachers are being constantly exposed
to cutting edge technology.
Attributes of the Training Program Attributes of the Training Program Attributes of the Training Program Attributes of the Training Program
1. The Program uses digital satellite technology as a
conduit for quality Outcomes Based Education material
across geographical barriers. Training programs are relayed
from the M-Group’s Broadcast Center in Randburg, via the
conduit of satellite to a television set, and an Intranet.
2. The Program applies a specific, three tiered pro-
cess of learning that continuously reinforces specific themes
on Outcomes Based Education. The training facilities used at
the training centers consist of a minimum of three rooms in
an education department or other suitable buildings.
Broadcast Room
This room is equipped with a television monitor, a video
server and satellite dish. Here, a visual presentation of the
specific learning theme on Outcomes Based Education is
provided. Teachers watch broadcast clips reflecting different
South African situations and experiences on Outcomes Based
Education concepts, which run for approximately 10 min-
utes. The broadcast ends with a thought-provoking question
that prompts the group into discussion. With this question,
the aim is to actively engage the recipients and negate pas-
sivity amongst them. Curriculum developers of the Provin-
cial Education Department mediate the group discussions.
Computer Room
The second room is furnished with a Windows NT server
and 24 Pentium workstations. Content is downloaded, via
satellite, to the servers using a Siyanda satellite receiver card.
The computer material provides digitized video and audio
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clips, which have been compressed, using MPEG technol-
ogy. This convergence of computer and television technol-
ogy confers greater flexibility to the learning process.
It was observed during the pilot period that educators tended
to ‘hop’ between Internet lessons. Some completed the ses-
sion in a short period suggesting they had not taken the time
to read and reflect on the issues. Thus, a controlled measure
that compels users to follow a particular learning path has
been introduced.
Although the computer-based learning content reflects the
National Education Department’s interpretation of the cur-
riculum, the Department is provided with an additional op-
portunity to express its viewpoint. There is also an opportu-
nity for each Provincial Department to add its input. We have
embarked on a project to add a message board and an elec-
tronic mail facility to make this learning experience even
more dynamic and interactive.
The Lesson Development Room
This is the most important room in the process. It is here that
teachers have the opportunity to practice the theory learned
in the broadcast and computer rooms. In this room, teachers
work together to develop their own lesson plans for the fol-
lowing week, based on what they learned during the broad-
cast and computer based learning.
3. The program is a mediated, facilitated learning
process. Integral to the Shoma training methodology is the
use of facilitators to mediate the learning process in all three
tiers. This approach is informed by the notion that the use of
technology as a training tool necessitates that training should
be conducted by facilitators or other teachers who can pro-
• experience in classroom teaching;
• an understanding of the use of technologies and its lan-
guage usage;
• mediated learning without succumbing to the temptation
to take over the keyboard; and
• follow-up support to the teacher in the classroom.
In view of these specific qualities, our facilitators are drawn
from the ranks of curriculum developers whose responsibility
it is to provide support to educators on curriculum issues.
An evaluation of the pilot project by South African Institute
for Distance Education identified the need for facilitation
skills training program for these departmental officials.
Shoma has developed a training program on facilitation to
build the capacity of facilitators in the mediation of adult
learning, as well as to develop a basic understanding of the
technology used in the program.
Experiences in Applying the Model Experiences in Applying the Model Experiences in Applying the Model Experiences in Applying the Model
On the positive side the value of technology in teacher de-
velopment can be summarized as follows:
• It ensures access to quality education material and re-
sources, irrespective of geographical location and ter-
restrial networks.
• It bridges the digital divide between those who have
access to technology and those who don’t.
• It is a fast, cost-effective way of providing the training
material to remote training centers all over the country.
• It provides an interactive platform, which stimulates the
learning process of educators.
• It permits and supports individually paced learning proc-
The drawbacks of technology in teacher development have
• The initial capital outlay to acquire and install the tech-
nological infrastructure is costly.
• Enormous problems are experienced as a result of the
sensitive nature of technology in relation to the low-
level technological development and skills of the end-
• The eagerness to gain access to technology skills some-
times overshadows the educational value of the substan-
tive elements of the training program.
In the area of partnership, the program has created a platform
for private sector companies to work alongside government
in the development of education. It has enabled corporate
companies to be part of an established, high potential, high
impact and relevant corporate social investment project.
In the final analysis, the impact of any teacher development
program should be evaluated in terms of its effect on teacher
practice and not just on the correct methodology nor its use
of technology. Therefore, we have embarked on a research
study to look at, among other things:
• The correlation between the change of attitude toward
the use of technology and teacher practice.
• The extent to which educators have fully understood the
benefits and implications of the use of broadcast and
computer learning as a learning and teaching tool.
Conclusion Conclusion Conclusion Conclusion
As the range and complexity of technology available to sup-
port education and training rapidly expands, the reality that
technologically driven educational solutions do not work has
become increasingly apparent. We need to recognize, how-
ever, that technology is increasingly being harnessed to bene-
fit our education system through various innovative projects.
Slowly but surely, technology enhanced learning is becom-
ing more and more effective. The South Africa experience
provides a model for harnessing the latest technologically
driven interventions for the benefit of our educators and for
the enhancement of education as a whole.
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Up c o m i n g Ev e n t s : Co n f e r e n c e s , Se m i n a r s , Ex h i b i t s , e t c ….
MAY 11 - 13, 2000
Computer-Using Educators Conference - Charting a
New Course: Navigating 2000
Palm Springs, California, USA
MAY 14 - 17, 2000
CUMREC 2000: The New Frontier: Creative Solu-
tions for the New Millennium (Conference for Higher
Education Professionals who use technology to support ad-
ministrative functions and processes.)
Arlington, Virginia, USA
MAY 18 - 20, 2000
EDTEC 2000 - Education Technology Expo & Con-
ference West
Denver, Colorado, USA
MAY 22 - 24, 2000
Digital Collaboration
Dallas, Texas, USA
MAY 24 - 27, 2000
WEM - The World Education Market
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
MAY 28 - 31, 2000
The 22
Annual International Conference on
Teaching and Leadership Excellence
Austin, Texas, USA
JUNE 7 - 9, 2000
Distance Learning Administration 2000
Pine Mountain, Georgia, USA
JUNE 26-JULY 1, 2000
ED-MEDIA 2000: World Conference on Educational
Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
JUNE 26 - 28, 2000
National Education Computing Conference
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
JULY 10 - 11, 2000
ELearning 2000 - Europe
Dublin, Ireland
JULY 24 - 26, 2000
SALT (Society for Applied Learning Technology)
Education Technology Conference
Arlington, Virginia, USA
AUGUST 2 - 4, 2000
Annual Conference on Distance Learning &
University of Wisconsin - Madison, Wisconsin, USA
AUGUST 25 - 27, 2000
Technology in Teaching and Learning in Higher
Education International Conference
Samos Island, Greece
SEPTEMBER 6 - 9, 2000
"Keeping pace with development information..." The
25th Anniversary Meeting of EADI's Information
Management Working Group
Bergen, Norway
! 56 ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
SEPTEMBER 10 - 13, 2000
"Distance Education An Open Question?" Confer-
Adelaide, Australia
SEPTEMBER 23 - 25, 2000
The 28th Research Conference on Communication,
Information and Internet Policy
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
SEPTEMBER 27 - 29, 2000
Distance Learning in the New Millennium
Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA
OCTOBER 15 - 18, 2000
Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
OCT 18 - 21, 2000
New Approaches in Higher Education: The University
College Conference
Bermuda College, Bermuda
OCT. 30 - NOV. 4, 2000
WebNet 2000: World Conference on the WWW and
San Antonio, Texas, USA
NOVEMBER 12 - 15, 2000
TechLearn 2000
Orlando, Florida, USA
DECEMBER 4 - 6, 2000
International Workshop on Advanced Learning
Technologies (IWALT2000)
Palmerston North, New Zealand
DECEMBER 12 - 15, 2000
Session on: "Reusability in web-based educational
systems" in the International ICSC Congress on
(ISA'2000) Symposium on INTERACTIVE &
University of Wollongong, NSW Australia
If you have a conference, seminar, exhibit, etc. coming up, send it to us for listing
in "On the Move".
To Advert ise your conferences, seminars, exhibit s, and t rain-
ing courses, go to the "How to Advertise" section on the TechKnowLogia
home page, found at: www. techknowlogia . org.
! !! ! 57 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
How t o Eval uat e Educat i onal Sof t war e and Websi t es
Gr eg g B. Jackso n
Associate Professor and Coordinator,
Education Policy Program, George Washington University
Ther e ar e appr oxi mat el y 20, 000 educat i onal sof t -
war e packages and many t housand educat i onal web-
si t es t hr oughout t he wor l d. How can you deci de
what i s good and what i s a wast e of t i me?
There are two basic approaches. One approach is to use
guides to software and “portals” to websites that list re-
sources judged to be of merit. The second is to undertake
your own assessment of the software and websites. When
doing this you might use criteria previously prepared by
other scholars and organizations, you might adapt those crite-
ria to your organization’s own priorities, or you might de-
velop new criteria.
Early assessments of educational software focused on the
content covered and the ease of using them. When critics
noted that the instructional strategies in early software were
often simplistic and dysfunctional, more attention was given
to the pedagogical strategies used. More recently, there have
been efforts to judge how well the software and websites
comply with national or state curriculum standards.
Still another focus for assessment is whether students using
the software or website learn more than students who aren’t
using it. That requires an impact evaluation, usually with pre
and post measurement of knowledge and skills for a substan-
tial number of users and comparable non-users. Such
evaluations have been undertaken occasionally since the
early years of instructional software in the 1960s, but they
are expensive and rare.
The following discussion is limited to assessments that don’t
involve formal impact evaluations. Any organization that is
considering substantial investments in educational software
or websites is advised to select the resources with the aid of
existing or easily conducted assessments, and then to test the
resource out on a modest scale with impact evaluation. Re-
search tends to show that if good software and websites are
integrated into teaching, student attendance and engagement
increase, and learning often does also, but those effects de-
pend on the quality of the resources and their suitability for
the circumstances.
Gui des t o Sof t war e and Por t al s t o Websi t es
Existing guides and portals can save considerable effort in
identifying potentially useful software and websites. Most
index resources by subject area, grade level, and other char-
acteristics. They usually briefly describe the resource and
also critique or rate it.
Although most existing guides are available only in English,
they can be of use in planning basic education in developing
countries. Where English is a language of instruction, they
may be directly applicable. In addition, some of the refer-
enced software and websites are available in two or more
languages. Finally, these guides and portals might serve as
models for countries that want to prepare their own guides.
The following are several guides and portals that might be of
American Library Association’s Notable Children’s
Websites http://www.ala.org/alsc/ncwc.html
This is a portal to high quality educational websites for chil-
Best Web Sites for Teachers www.iste.org
Available only in print. It can be purchased through
Bologna New Media Prize Winners
The prizewinners are currently listed toward the bottom of
the homepage of http://www.childrenssoftware.com
International prizes are given for CD-ROMs, Internet sites,
video games, and “smart toys.” The prizes are awarded for
innovation, educational value, and ease-of-use.
Children’s Software Revue
Assesses more than 4,000 software titles.
Assesses software for use by students with disabilities.
Educational Software Institute www.edsoft.com
Has a searchable database of 8,000 titles to help you locate
software by several characteristics including bilingual or
multilingual presentations. About 250 titles are available in
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two or more languages. It doesn’t rate the software, but does
describe it.
Only the Best
Available only in print. It can be purchased through
www.ascd.org. This is a guide to educational software that
has been rated highly by one or more of 25 organizations that
rate such software. An index is included.
The Educational Software Selector (TESS)
Available only on CD-ROM. Ordering information is at
http://www.epie.org, but orders must be mailed in. This is
the oldest and largest guide to educational software, covering
19,000 software packages.
Conduct i ng Your Own Assessment s
Many scholars and organizations have developed criteria for
judging educational software and websites. They usually
specify criteria about platform requirements, goals and ob-
jectives, the content, the pedagogy, ease of use, and costs.
An example of these criteria is given below. The criteria can
be modified according to your needs.
Platform Requirements:
▪ What hardware and operating system is needed to run
the software?
▪ What browser capabilities are needed to use the website?
Goals and Objectives:
▪ What subject areas are covered?
▪ What age or grade level(s) are targeted?
▪ What are the instructional goals and objectives?
▪ Does the content meet the curriculum standards of the
country or district?
▪ Is the content appropriately comprehensive?
▪ Is the content correct and up-to-date?
▪ Are controversial issues treated in a balanced manner?
▪ Are women and minorities depicted with respect?
▪ Does the software or website have multiple means of
motivating students?
▪ Is content sequenced to facilitate learning?
▪ How much does the software or website make use of the
following instructional strategies:
! “Lecturing”
! Drill and practice
! “Tutoring”
! Games and simulations with feedback
! Collaborative projects
! Others?
▪ Are there alternative paths so that students who need
more or different guidance can get it?
▪ Is the student given some guidance but also required to
▪ Does the resource challenge students’ imagination?
▪ Is the resource modifiable by the teacher to integrate it
with other learning activities in a class?
Ease of Use:
▪ Is the software easy to install?
▪ Is there printed or online guidance on how to use the
software or website?
▪ Are the controls intuitive and easy to locate and use?
Are they consistent through modules?
▪ Can the student go back several steps and redo them?
▪ Do the Web pages download fully in no more than 15
▪ Can the student get help at any point that is tailored to
where he or she is?
▪ Are software or website malfunctions infrequent?
▪ Does the website have a stable URL?
▪ Is the website server in operation almost always when
▪ Is there technical support available by e-mail or phone
from a live person if the teacher and other local staff
cannot figure out how to use the software or website?
▪ Does each Web page have a link back to the home page?
▪ What are the initial costs for a single copy and for multi-
ple copies?
▪ Are there annual renewal costs?
▪ What are the costs for upgrading to the next version of
the software?
Conduct i ng t he Assessment
There are several ways to conduct the assessment of software
and websites. Most commonly administrators and teachers
will record their responses to assessment criteria like those
cited above while they practice using the resource. They de-
liberately try to make mistakes to see how the resource re-
sponds. At least two people should assess a given resource,
and if they cannot easily reconcile any substantial disagree-
ments, a third person should also assess the resource. Then
disagreements that cannot be reconciled are usually aver-
Another approach is to have several students use the software
and websites while the administrators or teachers watch.
After the students finish they may also be asked for their
impressions. By the time students are about 12 years old,
they may only be nominally supervised while testing the re-
source and asked to record their responses directly on an
assessment form.
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Recycling Computer s
A Simple Solution for a Complex Problem
By Sonia Jurich
One of the most frequently cited reasons for the differences
between computer-rich and computer-poor organizations and
individuals is opportunity of access. Despite significant de-
creases in prices of hardware, the purchase of a computer
with the necessary software can be prohibitive for many low-
income families and organizations with limited budget. For
those who have access, though, the problem is quite differ-
ent. The expected active life of a computer is about five
years. After that, the computer becomes obsolete, and unable
to run state-of-the-art software. In 1998, the number of per-
sonal computers that became obsolete, in the United States
alone, exceeded 20 million. Of these, only 11 percent were
recycled. Between 1998 and 2000, the number of discarded
computers may reach 70 million.
Millions of computers are
dumped each year in already strained landfills and become
an environmental problem, according to the Environmental
Health Center (EHC), at the National Safety Council
Multiple Needs ar e Satisfied
While organizations, schools and families struggle to get
computers and enter the digital revolution, ever more com-
puters are being discarded for the sole reason that a newer
version is in the market. In the process, the environment
suffers under massive amounts of trash. The intersection of
these multiple needs provides a creative solution: computer
recycling. Over the past few years, a number of not-for-
profit organizations have focused on the tasks of collecting,
refurbishing, and finding new homes for old computers.
Schools and community organizations have been the main
beneficiaries of these projects.
For instance, The Detwiler Foundation
(http://www.detwiler.org/) sponsors the Computers for
School, a program dedicated to providing recycled computers
and computer equipment to schools in the United States. The
program trains teachers and school administrators about
computer installation and Internet connections.
International partnerships, albeit rare, already exist. For in-
stance, the African Literacy Project is a joint effort of Op-
eration Crossroads Africa, Inc, an organization based in
New York City, and Voluntary Work Association of Ghana.
The project collects used computers to distribute to young
African students. The African Regional Center for Comput-
ing is a not-for-profit organization that donates refurbished
computers to public and community-based organizations in
Kenya and surrounding countries.
Corporations are also involved in recycling projects. Can-
ada’s Computers for Schools or Ordinateurs pour les Écoles
(http://www.schoolnet.ca/cfs-ope/about_e.html) is a program
sponsored by two large corporations, Industry Canada and
Telephone Pioneers. The program redirects surplus comput-
ers, equipment and software to Canadian elementary and
secondary schools. A component of the program, the Tech-
nical Work Experience Project, promotes the hiring and su-
pervision of high school and college students who have some
training in Information Technology. The young technicians
repair and refurbish the equipment, sort and test the software,
and prepare the computers for shipment to the schools. In
addition, they serve as technical support for local school
In some countries, governments are taking leadership roles.
For instance, Computers for Learning is a governmental ini-
tiative funded by the U.S. Department of Energy that trans-
fers federal surplus in computers and related equipment to
schools and educational not-for-profit organizations
(http://www.computers.fed.gov/). Public, private, parochial
and home schools, and organizations serving children from
pre-kindergarten through grade 12 are eligible for the pro-
gram. Priority is given to schools and organizations in
greatest need, particularly those located in high poverty ar-
eas. The program is expected to save the Federal govern-
ment “tens of millions of dollars” by reducing paperwork and
minimizing storage requirements.
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A New Life for The Ver y Old
There is, however, a glitch is this potentially happy-ending
affair. Most computers that are being discarded no longer
have software installed, and/or cannot support newer soft-
ware. The use of older software limits the usefulness of
these recycled computers. In consequence, some recycling
organizations accept donations of only more recent models,
such as Pentium 75 or higher. This requirement excludes a
significant amount of computers that are now being replaced,
particularly those from the late 1980s, including the 386 and
486 series.
However, a new hope has emerged.
NewDeal (http://www.newdealinc.com/) is
a software that restores the core
functionality of old computers. Its
basic features include a
contemporary graphics interface,
spreadsheet, database, word
processor, and communications capability. It has a point-
and-click interface, like Windows 98, with two major differ-
ences. First, it runs on any PC, from a Pentium III model to
a relic as old as the 286. Second, rather than paying $300 for
software, $39.95 provides the user with a spreadsheet pro-
gram, a word processor that can read rich text files, e-mail
and Web browser. For less than $70, the deluxe version also
includes a mini-database, a drawing program, and a kid-
friendly version of the BASIC programming language.
Clive Smith, the creator of GeoWorks, developed NewDeal
with the goal of bringing computers to all school children.
The company works in partnership with businesses, not-for-
profit organizations, and governments. Over 200 school dis-
tricts across the United States use the software, as well as
community organizations, such as church groups and com-
munity centers. The company has international connections,
with projects in Southern Africa, Middle East, Brazil, India,
Jamaica and Australia. NewDeal has won many awards,
including a PC Computing Most Valuable Product award, the
Info World Product of the Year award, and the Critics
Choice Award for Best Consumer Program.
What Can We Do To Br ing
Computer s To The Classr oom?
Any country that wants to compete in this information-based
economy needs to provide their children with a strong tech-
nological foundation. In the United States, for instance,
about 60 percent of new jobs, and 90 percent of jobs that pay
$25,000 a year or more require computer-related knowledge.
Bringing computers to the classrooms is no longer a nicety, it
is a need. The use of recycled computers enables many low-
income schools to provide technology-rich learning to their
students. It also avoids more damage to an already wounded
environment. Recycling agencies are all over the map, and
software innovations, such as NewDeal, have solved the last
glitch, that of providing old computers with modern func-
Governments need to encourage recycling projects through
tax-deductions and education campaigns. They must also
lead the process by example. Ministries of Education can
mediate the transfer of government computer surplus into
needed schools. Businesses can renew their inventories,
while helping local children - their future employees and
consumers - to become computer literates. “Adopting” a set
of nearby schools can facilitate the transfer process. How-
ever, successful initiatives must address the need for training
principals and teachers to install and use the computers, and
for long-term technical support. Programs that train college
students as technicians, such as Canada’s Computers for
Schools, have a double advantage: they provide schools with
basic technical support at low cost, and help develop a local
pool of experts. In addition, these programs may encourage
participants to pursue studies in computer science, a skill that
will become even more valuable, as more countries enter the
new technology era.

Electronic Product Recovery and Recycling. Baseline Re-
port: Recycling of Selected Electronic Products in the U.S.,
a survey conducted by Stanford Resources, Inc. (online or-
ders at http://www.nsc.org/ehc/epr2/baseline.htm)
For our U.S. readers interested in donating or obtaining a
recycled computer, Share the Technology
(http://www.libertynet.org/share) offers good suggestions on
what to do and pitfalls to avoid, in addition to links to com-
puter recycling organizations nationwide.
Addresses for these and other international projects can be
found at PEP National Directory of Computer Recycling
Heim, Judy (2/9/2000). NewDeal Gives new Life to Geri-
atric PCs. PCWorld.com, http://www.pcworld.com/cgi-
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The World Wide Web now offers
extensive resources that can
be useful in basic education.
Some can be used by
teachers or parents, and
some are intended to be
used by the children themselves to supplement
their other educational activities.
Some of the web sites described below are available in Spanish and Hindi,
and the language barrier will fall as websites are developed in other lan-
guages. While many of the educational sites described below may not be
linguistically accessible to most of the teachers, parents, and students in
your country, they still offer models of resources that might be developed by
the public or private sectors there.
Selected by: Gregg Jackson, Vishnu Karki, and Sole McKinnon
There are many resources that teachers can draw on from the web to use in their basic and primary education classes. There
are lesson plans, ideas for learning activities, encyclopedias and atlases, stunning photos to capture student’s interest, and dis-
cussion forums for the exchange of ideas among teachers.
Education Place
This site has resources for teachers, parents, and students. A
major textbook publisher in the U.S., Houghton Mifflen,
operates it.
Discovery Channel School
Provides lesson plans, ideas for learning games, Web links,
and e-mail discussions. Operated by the Discovery Channel
cable television channel.
Gateway to Educational Materials (GEM)
This is a portal to websites with lesson plans, teacher guides,
and other educational materials on the web that can be used
by teachers. It links only to materials that have been judged
of high quality. One can search by subject area, topic, and
grade level. While intended for U.S. teachers, some of the
materials are quite applicable in other countries.
This Spanish language site offers links to pages with peda-
gogical ideas for teachers.
International Society for Technology in Education
Provides extensive resources on how to use software and
websites in education. Some of the resources are available
only in print, but others are on the Web.
Internet Oracle
This is a portal linking to all sorts of Web resources. It of-
fers links to several free web-based encyclopedias, atlases,
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and dictionaries that teachers may find useful when devel-
oping new lessons on topics about which they are not fully
Vidya Online
This new website is designed for primary school teachers in
India. There is a section that includes statistics on Indian
education and important documents affecting education.
There is an open discussion forum where teachers can post
topics or questions. And there will be a section that posts
children's literature. The site is currently only in English.
Virtual Libraries Museum Pages
Provides links to many of the world’s art museums having
parts of their collection on the Web.
This is a portal to many Hindi language websites that present
regional and national news stories that could be discussed in
World Art Treasures
This site provides an extensive collection of photos of great
art in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.
World Bank’s Development Education Program
This section of the World Bank’s website is to help in
teaching about the complex issues of sustainable develop-
ment. The presentation is too advanced for primary educa-
tion students, but the materials will provide primary teachers
with issues and resources that they could use in their classes.
There are numerous websites that will excite children and contribute to their learning. These include sites that offer interactive
stories, games, visits to virtual museums, communication with other students across the globe, participation in guiding real
expeditions, and personal tutoring by human beings. There are also portals that allow children to find suitable websites on al-
most any topic of interest to them. Only a few examples are cited below.
Amazing Travel Bureau (National Geographic Soci-
Allows kids to travel through many countries playing inter-
active games.
Arthur Page
This site, operated by the U.S. Public Broadcasting System,
allows children to play a variety of games. The games
mostly require applying word skills.
Enlaces bilingues para ninos y maestros
This portal links to Spanish language Web sites selected for
This site provides a Spanish virtual encyclopedia for kids. It
covers mathematics, language and communication, arts,
natural sciences, geography, and history. In the Tiempo
Libre section, there are guides to performing science experi-
ments, guessing games, a compendium of interesting facts
about inventions, and a writing workshop.
Allows children to communicate with others around the
globe and engage in interactive projects. It started as an
electronic means for pen pals, but has expanded to include
collaborative projects. Over 100,000 kids in 114 countries
have used the site.
KIDLINK Worldwide Computer Art Exhibition
This is an intriguing site with computer graphic art created
by children from all around the globe. Some contributions
are organized by the country of the artist and some by an
assigned theme.
La Abuela Margarita
This Spanish language site contains fun interactive stories,
guessing games, and other intellectual exercises for children
aged 4-11. It is good for the practice of reading skills, devel-
opment of creativity, learning to follow instructions, and
self-directed learning.
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La ciencia es divertida
This Spanish language site is for teachers and students of all
ages who are learning science. It includes science facts, an-
ecdotes, experiments, quotations, and interesting questions to
think about.
La Guarderia
This Spanish language site presents six educational games
for the cognitive development of preschoolers. They intro-
duce the ABCs, numbers, and animals in an entertaining
This is a lively site with lots of blinking graphics and audio
to capture the attention of young children, but the purpose is
to develop children’s skills in exploring, expressing, and
exchanging ideas. The offered activities include learning
rudimentary computer programming to control music, creat-
ing animation on the web, designing a virtual town, and cre-
ating a web page. This site also has links to many other
websites that are suitable for children.
National Geographic
This site is filled with photos, information, and interactive
activities related to geography, natural history, and the ani-
mal kingdom. It will intrigue children from the ages of 4 to
This Spanish language site offers entertaining and educa-
tional crossword puzzles, guessing games, logic games, and
games that teach music.
Classroom Connect sponsors adventurers and scientists on
real expeditions that are partly guided by vote of the thou-
sands of students who monitor reports of the expedition
teams that are posted on the Quest Website. The website
also provides extensive learning resources related to the
Quest that can be used for research, classroom activities, and
projects. The Fall 2000 expedition will be in Australia.
Theodore Tugboat
Allows children to play games that are related to a popular
Canadian children’s television show.
This site provides children with personal human tutoring
through the web. The tutor and the student communicate by
e-mail and by making drawings on a “white board” that both
see on their screen. The “Basic Math” and “Basic Science”
tutoring is appropriate for students in the more advanced
primary school grades. The cost is $30 per month ($US) for
unlimited use. There is a Spanish version.
This Hindi language portal leads to a website with Hindi
stories for children. Click on “Literature” and then “Child
This portal links to websites selected for children. Japanese
and Korean versions are also provided, linking to websites in
those languages.

Authors: Gregg Jackson is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Education Policy Program at The George Washington
University in Washington DC. Vishnu Karki, from Nepal, and Sole McKinnon, from Uruguay, are graduate students in the
! !! ! 64 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
V ir t ual P r esent at ions: W ast ing N o T ime V ir t ual P r esent at ions: W ast ing N o T ime V ir t ual P r esent at ions: W ast ing N o T ime V ir t ual P r esent at ions: W ast ing N o T ime
By Jelena Lewis
The idea of being able to make a presentation accessible to a
much larger audience from the presenter’s office, classroom,
or own home for that matter, is not only appealing to the pre-
senter but the audience as well. Imagine being able to trans-
mit all of the multimedia fields used in the boardroom or
classroom, across the web to anyone in the world, at any
time, right along with you. Thanks to Internet services and
developments in user-friendly hardware, online presentations
may become a beneficial and easy to master tool for those
involved in business, education, and virtually anyone who
needs to get his/her ideas and information across to an audi-
Website Services
Sites providing webcasting services on the Internet make it
easy to organize and create an online presentation, for the
most part, requiring little more than a browser.
Astound Conference Center, available through Astound
(ae.astound.com), allows you to present your Microsoft
Power Point slides over the web. All you have to do is
download the Astound Publisher software from the site,
which converts Power Point slides, or Astound’s own slides,
into HTML format. Conference Center then provides a vir-
tual conference room location which you and your viewers
enter at a time you specify. As the audience views your
presentation from a remote location, they can interact with
you, asking questions and giving feedback due to Astound’s
chat feature. You can also refer your audience back to spe-
cific slides. Astound’s service is free for a one month trial
period. After that, you have the option of creating your own
permanent conference room for you and your associates or
fellow educators, starting at $99 per month.
Active Touch is another provider of real-time presentation
services and like Astound, requires only a browser. It allows
you to add your own documents and slides but the service is
completely free of charge to the presenter. Active Touch
also provides you with a permanent web page, through We-
bEx Office, where you can publicly update your upcoming
presentations and maintain your own personal calendar and
New software such as Microsoft Office 2000 and Power
Point also provide limited webcasting capabilities.
Whiteboards on the Web
Another way of webcasting may be of particular interest to
educators. Electronics for Imaging Inc.’s eBeam Presenta-
tion System is a device that allows the transfer of images
directly form a generic classroom whiteboard to a remote
viewer’s computer screen via the Internet. Ebeam distributes
those images in real-time so remote users see each mark on
the board as it is being made. They are also able to zoom in
to view fine details of the image.
The eBeam system consists of two sensor pods that connect
to a standard PC serial port and attach to the upper corners of
your whiteboard. These sensor pods pick up signals from
eBeam’s, battery operated, marker holsters and eraser which
transmit each stroke to the PC and then over the net. As you
use the eBeam Presentation System, you can save your writ-
ten work, erase the board, and then start again. The system
records every mark made so you always have the option of
going back to a pre-recorded point if you make a mistake.
Internet viewers can also review previous “pages" of the
presentation and save them in various formats so they can
view them later.
Aside from the price, just under $600, the eBeam has few
drawbacks. Although there is a limit to the amount of sens-
ing area the hardware covers and the number of colors that
can be used during the presentation, the eBeam is user-
friendly to both the presenter and remote user. The presen-
tation system is not only lightweight and easy to set up, but
the remote users do not need any special software to view the
eBeam presentations, just a browser with Java capability.
Why Webcasting?
Research shows that teacher development and training are
essential elements of successful schools. However, many
school districts must balance the needs for maintaining inten-
sive training without sacrificing school days, or exceeding
limited training budgets. Webcasting technology may be
particularly helpful to reduce indirect costs of training, such
as transportation, room and board. With webcasting, teach-
ers can receive quality training at their own school base, with
less disruption of theirs and their students’ schedules. This
resource is especially beneficial for countries that have
schools scattered over large areas and with few transportation
resources. In these countries, moving teachers away from
schools for training becomes an enormous challenge.
Webcasting enables the teacher in the rural, isolated area, to
be connected to the main training center, and receive the
same training as a teacher in a more affluent area.
In addition to saving time and money, the medium also im-
proves the sharing of information and ideas. For example,
Biology classes can be taught directly from a museum, and
an astronomy class can take the children in a virtual trip
across space. The world shrinks, while knowledge expands.
This is the power of technology.
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Tablets Are Back: Light and Fun
By Rafael Chargel
When we think of digital technologies, we probably think of
a keyboard and a mouse, these plastic, hard to touch devices
that require special techniques that we may not be inclined to
learn. A new series of digital devices are changing the ways
we can produce information and keep the best of both
worlds: the soft touch of a pen, and the many resources of a
computer. These devices allow us to write and draw in tra-
ditional ways, sometimes using pen and paper, while creating
digital copies of our notes and drawings that can be stored,
copied, faxed, e-mailed, printed, and modified.
One of these devices is CrossPad XP
(http://www.cross.com/cross/pcg.html), a joint creation of a
computer graphics professor, Terry Burton, from Purdue
University, and A.T. Cross Co., producer of high-end writing
instruments. The device includes a pen with a built-in radio
frequency-transmitter and a 6-by-9-inch notepad. You can
write your notes in your own handwriting. The information
is sent to the computer via a cable, and the notes can be filed
on the hard drive. The notes can be used in handwritten form
in virtually all Windows applications. In addition, the Ink
Manager software can be trained to recognize the handwrit-
ing and transform your notes into files ready for the word
processor. You can also designate keywords for later
searches and bookmark handwritten pages. The device can
transmit up an amount of information corresponding to 80
pages at a time. However, you must remember to tap a key
at the bottom of the pad when you are ready to move to an-
other page. Otherwise, the next page will be stored on the
top of the previous one, and you lose information. The de-
vice weighs a little over 2 pounds and can be easily carried in
a purse or a business suitcase. It can be used in places where
laptops may not fit, such as crowded conference rooms. It
costs between $200 and $300.
Another device that fuses traditional hand movement with
digital technology is the Wacom Graphire
(http://www.wacom.com). The Graphire is a small tablet
with an active drawing area measuring 4.0 by 5.0 inches.
The tablet can be installed on any USB-equipped Mac or PC,
but it cannot coexist with any other attached tablet. The
system has three components: the tablet, a mouse, and a
Graphire pen. The wireless mouse, with two buttons and a
scroll wheel, is designed to be used with either hand. It has a
high resolution for quick maneuvering around the tablet and
can be set for relative or absolute positioning. The Graphire
pen has an ergonomic shape, with an eraser tip and a pro-
grammable double-sided switch. The pen is highly sensitive
to pressure, making for a smooth drawing. To make notes
or draw with the Graphire is as easy as using a pen or a
magic marker. The Graphire comes bundled with three soft-
ware packages: MetaCreations' Painter Classic, ParaGraph's
PenOffice SE, and Wacom PenTools (Adobe Photoshop
plug-ins). The PenOffice SE lets users annotate, draw, mark
up, and create signatures that attach to any Microsoft Word
97 or Word 2000 document, saving them as .doc file. The
device costs about $100, and requires Microsoft Windows
98, or MacOS 8.5 (iMac) or 8.0 (PowerMac), and a USB
port. According to PC Magazine review (January 4, 2000, p.
68), Wacom Graphire is the best business and family graph-
ics tablet on the market.
Devices such as these may prove to be a helping hand to
teachers. They can be used to foster children's handwriting
practice, and simultaneously teach them computer skills.
The teacher can write on the pad, and project her handwritten
notes on to the computer screen as a model for the children.
Or the children can write on the pad and rework their notes in
a word processor format. Notepads, such as the CrossPad
XP are especially helpful for people who are constantly on
the move. Teachers may use them to develop lesson plans
while waiting in a dentist office, or commuting on a subway.
The plans can be hastily jotted down on to the paper for later
correction. This way, the main ideas - particularly those
brilliant ideas we have in the most unexpected moments -
will not be wasted. Moreover, the teacher will no longer
have to manually input the notes from paper into the com-
puter to continue her work.
For individuals who have difficulty drawing with the mouse,
the graphics tablet offers a more familiar, less threatening
interface. Although requiring a computer and special soft-
ware, the tablet is small enough that it can be easily trans-
ported from classroom to classroom or from home to class-
room. Teachers can draw graphics or sketches to explain
parts of a lesson, and print the final product to distribute to
the students. Or even better, the students can learn how to
draw, store and print, so that they have two lessons in the
period of one. Most of all, since children are attracted to
digital gadgets, their simple presence in the classroom can be
that extra help that will make the lesson more interesting.
Learning the content, learning the technology, and having
fun: what else could a teacher want for the students?
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Making Scanning Easier
By Jelena Lewis
From the room-sized mainframes of the early 1950's to the
laptops of the 1990's, the idea that smaller is better, or at
least more comfortable, has gained momentum among digital
technology users. The industry has been catering to the in-
creasing number of mobile workers who carry their office
wherever they go. Cell phones, pagers, notepads, and palm-
top computers are some of the gadgets available to this new
breed of worker. So are portable scanners.
For teachers, presenters, and students, scanners offer an easy
way to incorporate images into a presentation and enliven an
otherwise dry exchange of information. Modern scanners
have moved away from the complicated procedures of the
older models with the introduction of parallel or USB inter-
face that offer true plug-and-play setup. Operations have
also been simplified. With the single click of a button, the
new scanners can copy, fax, or e-mail a document, and open
it in image-editing or word processor file. Some scanners are
still based on traditional CCD (change-couple device) tech-
nology that uses a semiconductor to capture and digitize the
image. The image is then passed through an elaborate lens-
and-mirror optical system. The newer technology, called
CIS (contact image sensor) replaces the lens-and-mirror with
a single row of sensors illuminated by light-energy detectors.
Although CIS scanners use less power and can be much
thinner than CCD units, they generally do not have the same
quality of image. However, they are very useful when the
process does not require artistic results.
A qui ck gl ossar y of scanni ng t er ms:
There are three main types of scanners: (1) flatbed scanners
that use a technology similar to a copier machine; (2) slide
scanners that, as the name says, scan slides; and (3) drum
scanners that use a laser technology. Most of us will use
flatbed, or regular scanners, while the other two types (and
the 3-D scanners) are geared toward graphic professionals.
Buying a scanner may be threatening for those who were not
initiated in digital terminology. Overall, a scanner qualifica-
tion will include the following terms:
⇒ DPI (dots-per-inch) - although this term should be re-
served to describe printer resolution, it is often used in
relation to scanners. As a rule-of-thumb, the higher the
DPI, the better the image resolution. By doubling the
number, the resolution actually becomes four times
⇒ PPI (pixels-per-inch) - PPI is the correct term to indicate
a scanner resolution, and refers to the number of pixels
(the minuscule dots that compose an image), that the
scan may reproduce. As with DPI, the higher the PPI,
the better the image resolution and larger the file.
⇒ SPI (samples-per-inch) - is sometimes used in scanner's
ads in place of PPI.
⇒ Moiré Pattern - Moiré is an interference of two patterns
in one image and appears on the screen as a checker-
board pattern that interferes with the quality of the im-
age. Some scanners will correct for moiré patterns.
⇒ Real resolution - the amount of PPI the device can actu-
ally scan (remember, the higher, the better).
⇒ Enhanced resolution - some scanners advertise their
"enhanced resolution" power. Enhanced resolution
means that the scan takes the real resolution and multi-
plies the number of pixels it sees in order to blow-up the
image. However, this does not improve image quality
and should not influence your choice when buying a
⇒ OCR (optical character recognition) - scanners
equipped with OCR software can read the text off a page
and save it as an editable file, rather than an image file.
This file can then be edited with most word processor
software, such as Word Perfect and Microsoft Word.
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Por t abl e Scanner s:
A new breed of small, portable scanners are entering the
market. Some are the size of a suitcase, while others are
slightly larger than a pen. The following are a few examples
of portable scanners currently on the market.
Microtek ImageDeck Portable
Scanner, from Microtek Lab
Inc. (www.microtek.com) looks
like a small suitcase
(13"x4.8"x18.9") and weighs 15
pounds. The scanner can
function independently of a
computer, requiring only that a
power source is available. It has an optical resolution of
600x600 dpi with a maximum scan size of 8.5x11.7 inches.
Although it cannot scan legal size or larger papers, it has the
ability to enlarge small images to letter size dimensions. The
scanned color and gray scale images are saved as JPEG files,
and black-and-white images are saved as PCX files. A well-
organized front-panel facilitates the scanning process, ena-
bling the user to adjust the scan for color, compression, and
resolution. The default is a black-and-white mode, with 300-
dpi resolution, a letter-size scan area and no compression.
ImageDeck contains two built-in disk drives: one for the
regular, 1.44 MB, 3.4-inch floppy disk, and a zip drive.
Printers and portable hard drives can be attached to the side
panel. ImageDeck comes with a software bundle that in-
cludes: Ulead PhotoImpact (image-editing), Caere OmniPage
(OCR) and Caere PageKeeper (document management and
C-Pen 600, from C Technologies AB
(www.cpen.com), resembles a highlighter pen
and weighs no more than 5 ounces. It
combines a miniature digital camera, OCR
and Intel StrongArm processor. It has 6-MB
memory. Despite its size, C-Pen performs
optical character recognition on text between
7 and 20 points high. It can translate scanned
words to and from English, French, German,
Spanish, Italian and Swedish, depending on
the language dictionaries installed on the
device (C-Pen comes with one dictionary;
additional dictionaries cost about $50). It has
also other features, such as an address book
application that holds up to 250 contacts, and
C-Write, that enable users to write digital notes and save
them. C-Pen uses an infrared communication to transfer
information to a PC. It operates with two AAA batteries,
which last an estimated three to four weeks of constant use.
Files are compatible with Windows 95 and higher.
Siemens Pocket Reader, from
Siemens AG Austria
(www.pocketreader.com) weighs
about 4 ounces and has 2.5MB
RAM and 5-MB hard disk space.
The scan reads 8-to-16 point text
in common fonts and can store
about 40,000 characters. The Reader can be connected to a
PC to upload scanned texts, which can be transferred to word
processors, spreadsheets and database software. The Pocket
Reader software recognizes words and translates to and from
German, English, French and Italian, depending on the dic-
tionary installed. The recognition rate is 95 percent, which
can be increased to 99 percent when a spell checker is added.
Six function keys control the entire operation. Pocket Reader
can record up to 20 pages of text and transfers the data by
serial cable to a PC. This is quite an inexpensive scanner
(about $100) that works with
Windows 95 and higher.
HP CapShare 910, from
(www.capshare.hp.com), is
another hand-held scanner that
works independently of a PC. It
weighs 12.5 ounces and runs on
two rechargeable nickel hydride batteries, which come bun-
dled with the unit. CapShare can scan approximately 100
documents and store about 50 letter-size pages in one battery
charge. A typical letter-size page takes approximately 6 sec-
onds to scan. The scan has a friendly interface and is easily
manipulated. The sensor can be swept over the document
from top to bottom or side to side, as the user feels more
comfortable. It scans in gray scale documents as large as 119
square inches. The image is compressed through firmware
and stored in the memory as a data file that can be viewed on
the built-in LCD, or sent as a PDF or TIFF file via serial ca-
ble or IR port to a printer or a computer.
Most hand-held scanners are easy to use, but they may be
difficult to hold in the correct position. If the hand shakes,
the image will be distorted. Therefore, hand-held scanners
are not recommended when the goal is to produce an image
of artistic quality. However, they can be quite helpful for the
most frequent uses. For instance, a teacher or a student can
easily scan pages or illustrations from a book that cannot be
checked out of the library. Or rather than cutting a magazine
to take one picture or an article, the teacher can scan the
needed objects and leave the magazine intact for further use.
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UNICEF and New Technologies
The I nt er net f or Yout h and Teacher s
Voices of Youth, (VOY) www.unicef.org/voy UNICEF’s online forum for young people, and the teacher
training web initiative Teachers Talking about Learning (TTAL) www.unicef.org/teachers are taking
steps to help UNICEF offices take action on technology. The purpose of TTAL is to establish the Internet
as a tool for the professional development of teachers, to provide a forum for sharing best practices of
teachers working in developing countries, and to demonstrate the interactive rather than merely the
broadcast capabilities of the Internet. The purpose of the VOY website is to provide a forum for learning
and dialogue about global issues among young people, and to establish human rights, specifically the rights
of children and young people, as the foundation for engagement with the virtual, and virtually global,
community constituted via the Internet. As projects of UNICEF, both websites hold three commitments in
common: (1) valuing the messengers, that is, the young people and the teachers; (2) valuing the Internet as
a learning tool; and (3) increasing the participation in online learning and professional development of
young people and teachers from disadvantaged communities, in developing and industrialized countries
alike. Both websites are organized using a common framework: Explore, Respond, Take Action, which
allows users to interact with new ideas, respond with their own ideas, and move ideas into practical actions.
The I nt er net f or Pr ogr am Pur poses
Uses for the Internet for program purposes are only just beginning, as program officers and counterparts
become more familiar with the uses of the Internet and find ways of using technology to achieve program
goals in remote and often ‘unwired’ areas. There is still much debate as to the relevance of new
technologies for achieving development goals, and whether the assertions offered by Internet supporters
will indeed live up to their expectations. UNICEF does not have large and expensively funded ICT-
enhanced programs at this stage, although several are planned in Latin America and in East Africa.
National initiatives however, demonstrate ingenious ways in which UNICEF is supporting Internet use and
fostering opportunities for open learning and distance education. UNICEF has supported ISP connections
for Ministries of Education and university research centers in places such as Cambodia, Mali and Ghana.
In many countries UNICEF shares IT hardware for organizing live electronic fora to give disadvantaged
groups opportunities to interact with one another. In the Philippines, a small connectivity project links
teachers to the Internet for professional development purposes, and conveys findings to other schools using
CD-ROM downloads.
The Wor k of t he Fut ur e
Connectivity for remote areas is no easy challenge, but if goals of access and quality are to be reached for
all children, we will need to focus our efforts in those places where children are most disadvantaged. We
will also be moving to ensure that content drives technology, and not the other way around. The aim will be
to explore low-cost, accessible alternatives for peoples who cannot afford to pay for hi-tech resources, and
who cannot access technology through using hi-tech tools. This is the work of the future.
For more information on UNICEF and its programs, visit the web site: www.unicef.org.
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From From From From Jomt ien Jomt ien Jomt ien Jomt ien t o t o t o t o Dakar Dakar Dakar Dakar and and and and B BB Be ee eyond yond yond yond
By Svein Osttveit
From Jomt ien From Jomt ien From Jomt ien From Jomt ien
Ten years ago, representatives from 155 countries and 150
organizations met at the World Conference on Education for
All (Jomtien, Thailand) and pledged to provide education for
all by the year 2000. With the statement that “Every person –
child, youth and adult – shall be able to benefit from educa-
tional opportunities designed to meet their basic learning
needs”, the World Declaration on Education For All defined
a bold new direction in education. Drafted by education
ministers and national and international organizations, the
Declaration rang the death-knell for rigid, prescriptive edu-
cation systems and ushered in an era where flexible systems
could thrive. From now on, education would be tailor-made,
adapted to the needs, culture and circumstances of learners.
The decision to review progress a decade later was taken in
Jomtien. Two important milestones intervened in 1996. The
mid-decade conference held in Amman, Jordan, noted con-
siderable progress but was hampered by weak reporting from
participating countries – underlining the need for an in-depth
assessment. The report to UNESCO of the International
Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century pro-
moted a holistic view of education consisting of four “pil-
lars”: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and
learning to live together. The text was widely adopted.
To Dakar To Dakar To Dakar To Dakar
Several countries have proved in the last 10 years that strong
political will can make the dream of Education for All a re-
ality. This message is key to the World Education Forum
held in Dakar, Senegal, on 26-28 April 2000, with the par-
ticipation of some 1,000 development leaders, including
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the heads
of several UN agencies, along with national and international
education policy-makers, non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), business leaders, donors and education workers
from over 145 countries. The World Education Forum is
expected to provide the Education for All movement with a
new momentum needed to resolve the glaring inequalities in
educational provision.
In preparation for the Forum, the biggest stocktaking of edu-
cation in history has been conducted. More than 180 coun-
tries have participated in the EFA 2000 Assessment, a mas-
sive and detailed review of the state of basic education in the
world. The Assessment was carried out by national teams
assisted by ten regional advisory groups, comprising UNDP,
UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, the World Bank, bilateral do-
nor agencies, development banks and inter-governmental
The findings were reported in five regional preparatory con-
ferences and a conference of the nine high-population coun-
tries (E9) that took place between December 1999 and Feb-
ruary 2000 (in Johannesburg, South Africa; Bangkok, Thai-
land; Cairo, Egypt; Recife, Brazil; Warsaw, Poland; and
Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic). The national as-
sessments have been complemented by fourteen thematic
studies on educational issues of global concern, sample sur-
veys on learning achievement and the conditions of teaching
and learning, and twenty case studies. The global synthesis
report, presented at Dakar, gives the most accurate picture to
date of the state of basic education in the world.
Unfinished Business and New Challenges Unfinished Business and New Challenges Unfinished Business and New Challenges Unfinished Business and New Challenges
New challenges to education emerged in the 1990s: the col-
lapse of Communism in Europe, the revolution in communi-
cation and information technologies, and growing globaliza-
tion. Many global trends were not foreseen at the World
Conference for Education for All in Jomtien, especially the
rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and the proliferation of ethnic
conflicts. Priorities must include reaching out with education
to HIV/AIDS orphans; offering education to the increasing
number of refugees and displaced people; motivating teach-
ers and helping them acquire a new understanding of their
role and harnessing the new technologies to benefit the poor.
The major challenge for the years ahead will be to provide
quality education for all.
A new Framework for Action to be adopted at the Dakar
Forum will call for increased financial commitment to edu-
! !! ! 70 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
cation, with special attention given to sub-Saharan Africa
and South Asia. It calls on governments, organizations,
agencies, groups and associations represented at the World
Education Forum to pledge themselves to:
! Mobilize strong national and international political
commitment for Education for All, including signifi-
cantly enhanced investment in basic education.
! Promote Education for All policies within a sustainable
and well-integrated sector framework clearly linked to
poverty elimination and development strategies.
! Ensure the engagement and participation of civil society
in educational development.
! Create safe and healthy educational environments con-
ducive to effective learning, including the provision of
good quality learning materials that will enable all
learners to attain and surpass well-defined levels of
! Enhance the status, morale and professionalism of
! Implement integrated sector strategies for gender
equality in education, which recognize the need for
changes in attitudes, values and practice.
! Develop responsive, participatory and accountable sys-
tems of educational governance and management.
! Harness new information and communication technolo-
gies to help achieve Education for All goals.
! Implement education programs and actions to address
the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
! Conduct educational programs in ways that promote
mutual understanding and peace and help to prevent
intolerance, violence and conflict.
! Systematically monitor progress towards Education for
All goals at the national, regional and international lev-
In the area of information and communication technology,
the Framework for Action promotes the following strategy:
The role of information and communication technologies
(ICT) in the knowledge economy and in education will
continue to expand and develop. The potential of these
technologies must be harnessed to support EFA goals at
affordable cost. While they often tend to separate the
haves from the have-nots, weaken social bonds, increase
disparities, and threaten cultural cohesion, ICTs can
also help expand the reach and enhance the quality of
education for all learners. They should complement
more traditional technologies such as books and radio.
The swiftness of ICT developments, their increasing
spread and availability, the nature of their content, and
their declining prices are having major implications for
learning. Governments will need to establish clearer
policies in regard to science and technology and under-
take critical assessments of ICT experiences and op-
tions, including their resource implications, in relation
to the provision of basic education, emphasizing choices
which bridge the “digital divide”, increase access and
quality and reduce inequity.
EFA partners also need to tap the potential of ICT to
enhance data collection and analysis and to strengthen
management systems, from central ministries through
sub-national levels to the school; improve access to edu-
cation by remote and disadvantaged communities; sup-
port initial and continuing professional development of
teachers; and provide opportunities to communicate
across classrooms and cultures.
The Road from Jomtien to Dakar has been a rich learning
experience for everyone involved in education. Looking
ahead, the learning society is within reach and the World
Education Forum is an important milestone towards its
For more information, you may visit the web sites:
http://www2.unesco.org/wef/ or http://www2.unesco.org/efa/

Svein Osttveit is Executive Secretary of the Education for All Forum, an inter-agency body established in 1990 by UNDP,
UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank.
! !! ! 71 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
Academy for Educational Development
Con n ect i n g Peopl e - Cr eat i n g Chan g e Con n ect i n g Peopl e - Cr eat i n g Chan g e Con n ect i n g Peopl e - Cr eat i n g Chan g e Con n ect i n g Peopl e - Cr eat i n g Chan g e
Stephen Moseley, President
A ED an d EFA A ED an d EFA A ED an d EFA A ED an d EFA
The Academy for Educational Development (AED) is par-
ticularly pleased to have the opportunity to co-sponsor this
issue of TechKnowlogia, which is devoted to the Education
For All activities leading up to the EFA World Education
Forum in Dakar, Senegal, in April. Providing the opportunity
for a quality education for all is the cornerstone of develop-
ment in all countries.
In support of the meeting in Dakar, AED has prepared the
U.S. assessment report, Education For All: A Global Com-
mitment, in collaboration with non-governmental organiza-
tions and U.S. governmental agencies. The AED report de-
tails U.S. progress during the past decade at home and its
assistance to other nations in reaching the goal of universal
primary education set at Jomtien. The report is available in
print from AED directly by mail, or through AED’s website
site, www.aed.org, and through the EFA web site
While great progress has been made, the education divide
between industrialized and developing nations is growing.
The World Education Forum provides an extraordinary op-
portunity to build upon the great strides that have been made
in broad, systemic education reform and development to en-
sure that a quality education is available to all within the
decade ahead.
A ED' s Focu s A ED' s Focu s A ED' s Focu s A ED' s Focu s
AED is an independent nonprofit organization committed to
solving critical social problems in the United States and
throughout the world through education, training, social
marketing, policy analysis, and innovative program design.
The Academy is dedicated to improving people’s lives by
increasing knowledge and promoting democratic and hu-
manitarian ideals. Since its founding in 1961, AED has been
devoted to providing specialized assistance to more than 100
countries and to communities throughout the United States to
develop innovative solutions to the challenge of providing
quality education for all.
AED draws upon an international staff for education plan-
ning, management information systems, in-service and pre-
service teacher preparation, assessment of needs for curricu-
lar changes, and application of broadcast and digital tech-
nologies for effective delivery of education programs. Much
of the Academy’s work is focused on ensuring educational
opportunities for girls, people in rural areas, and other disad-
vantaged populations.
The Academy provides its services on a nonprofit basis by
entering into agreements with governments, communities,
schools, and donor institutions to assist ministries of educa-
tion and educational institutions in improving their own
skills and meeting their educational goals. The AED Global
Higher Education Policy Center is helping colleges and
universities worldwide to identify and apply alternative ap-
proaches to funding and development in light of the urgent
need to offer opportunity for the increasing number of sec-
ondary school graduates who have little or no access to
higher education in many countries around the world. An-
other AED Center, Ready to Learn, emphasizes early child-
hood development assistance.
In addition, the Academy provides services that address
youth development, health improvement, communication and
technology applications, and educational and cultural ex-
change and international training. During the year 2000,
AED is placing special emphasis on improving child survival
from preventable diseases through the use of education and
communication programs that help parents to adopt new
methods and technologies at the community and village
AED extends its appreciation to the many representatives of
countries and educational institutions, of multilateral and
bilateral donor agencies and foundations, and to educators
around the world who support the Academy’s work.
M or e In f or m at i on M or e In f or m at i on M or e In f or m at i on M or e In f or m at i on
A complete list of countries served and the descriptions of
projects undertaken by the Academy are available at the
Academy’s web site: www.aed.org.
Or write to:
Office of the President
1825 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20009
Tel: 202-884-8000
Fax: 202-884-8400
Email: admindc@aed.org
! !! ! 72 ! !! ! TechKnowLogia, May/June, 2000 © Knowledge Enterprise, Inc. www.TechKnowLogia.org
"Our long-term aim is that any learner, anywhere in the
Commonwealth, shall be able to study any distance-teaching
From "Towards A Commonwealth of Learning, 1987"
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of independ-
ent sovereign states, which provide support to each other,
and work together toward international goals. The Com-
monwealth is described as a "family" of nations, originally
linked together in the British Empire, and now building on
their common heritage in language, culture and education,
which enables them to work together in an atmosphere of
greater trust and understanding than generally prevails
among nations. With more than 50 member countries, the
Commonwealth represents 25% of the world's population
and a great diversity of races, cultures, creeds and political
Founded in 1987 by the leaders of the Commonwealth coun-
tries at their meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia, The
Commonwealth of Learning has a mandate to encourage the
development and sharing of open learning/distance education
materials, expertise and technologies, and other resources for
students throughout the Commonwealth and other countries.
Headquartered in Vancouver, The Commonwealth of
Learning (COL) is the only international organization solely
concerned with the promotion and development of distance
education and open learning. COL is helping to increase the
capacities of developing nations to meet the demands for
improved access to quality education and training.
Distance education is now a part of the mainstream of edu-
cation and training. It enables students to learn at the loca-
tion, time and pace of their choice, for far less money and
with far greater results. COL's goals include maximizing the
transfer of information, ideas, innovations and resources to
support this rapid evolution of distance educational training.
Since 1990, COL has introduced, or enhanced, teach-
ing/training programs in more than 40 countries; conducted
seminars and studies on specific educational needs and es-
tablished a network of education and technology specialists
around the world. They are now contributing to many varied
educational programs, often using low-cost and innovative
technologies, throughout the Commonwealth and also to
other non-Commonwealth countries.
COL is governed by an international Board of Governors,
whose Chairman is Dr. Ian Macdonald of Toronto, and di-
rected by its President and Chief Executive Officer, Profes-
sor Gajaraj Dhanarajan.
COL's Web site: www.col.org

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