Making Technology Work for Sustainable Development


NEWSLINE Modern Technology Supports Traditional Cultures
Intercultural, Bilingual Education in Guatemala
In January, LearnLink began working with USAID/Guatemala to help improve teacher training and develop bilingual learning materials. Home to 22 indigenous Mayan cultures, Guatemala is multiethnic, multicultural and multilingual, with nearly 40 percent of children starting school without a productive knowledge of Spanish. Yet only 12 percent of schools are bilingual. This linguistic and cultural mismatch is particularly pronounced in certain provinces, or “departments,” as they are known in Guatemala, like Quiché, where 95 percent of the population is indigenous. Typically, teachers working in areas with large indigenous populations possess limited local language skillsmany speak the local language but do not have reading or writing literacy-and are essentially ill-prepared to teach Mayan children in their own languages. Opportunities for training are also inadequate, particularly in the areas of active learning and intercultural understanding. Guatemala’s teacher training institutions need to strengthen instruction in Mayan language literacy and cultural concepts, first and second language learning and bilingual pedagogy, multigrade teaching methods, and cultural sensitivity to help students bridge the gap between home and school. Focusing on the Department of Quiché, an area severely affected by decades of armed conflict, LearnLink assists the Ministry of Education by helping to develop the following: purchase the necessary technology and install multimedia computer labs in four teacher training schools (escuelas normales) in the region, also producing educational materials for bilingual teacher preparation, including an interactive multimedia system on CDROM to train teachers in oral and written K’iche’ and Ixil. • Early childhood activities to enhance learning. After researching and collecting K’iche’ and Ixil language materials, LearnLink will produce programs for radio, which will be provided to local radio stations. • Institutional capacity in computer applications for teacher training schools and communities. LearnLink will train trainers to use the computer labs. In addition, training will be provided for the Departmental Directorate of (continued on page 4)

• Culturally appropriate Mayan language instructional support materials. This includes the digital formatting of a set of core K’iche’ and Ixil Mayan language materials. LearnLink will forge partnerships with public and private sector entities for the establishment of a system to collect, translate, enhance and digitize materials such as teacher guides, instructional units, pamphlets, maps, booklets, workbooks, and manuals. • Teacher’s professional skills and proficiency in oral and written Mayan lanSchoolchildren in the town of Cunen, Guatemala guages. LearnLink will


Steven Dorsey

and gender groups. Internet usage by women grew steadily during the nine months of monitoring. restricted mobility. Assuming that the initial lack of interest in the Internet is in part due to unfamiliarity with what it is and does. Women Online in Ghana Unequal access to information. and a 10 percent discount to those registering for a program at the CLC. With 212 women arriving over a five-day period. it is possible to overcome the barriers to technology access and usage for women. Cape Coast and 2 . one free email. the day will focus on sensitizing invitees to its use. at least on a small scale. threatening a widening of the digital divide between economic groups within countries and. are perhaps more insidious disparities between racial. With targeted outreach. during which women in Kumasi were invited to sample CLC services. the less likely women were to use it. of those using the Internet during the tracking period. however. The center in Cape Coast is currently planning a similar event. The CLCs will continue creative outreach to women and women’s organizations. Now we can add “technophobia” and male-dominated. To promote IECT usage among women. state agencies. Women are neither participating in nor benefiting from the efforts to bring the developing world into the Information Age at anywhere near the same level as men. with poverty. over time. The managers of the NGOs that run the CLCs in Kumasi.Accra are all women-an intentional decision designed to encourage women to patronize the centers. education and communication technologies (IECTs) is a growing problem at the national and global level. women warm to the online environment and move steadily from word processing to the World Wide Web. Traditionally. and religious groups promised a free email address. illiteracy. high fertility. taking into account the lessons from the experience of its counterpart in Kumasi. familial. between developing and industrialized countries.000 men. Over a nine-month period. LearnLink’s experience with Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in three Ghanaian regions is showing that. evidence suggests that. the study suggested that the higher or newer the technology. the event was successful in the short term. the CLC in Kumasi tracked IECT usage by gender to assess the extent of an observation by center facilitators that women were not coming to the centers in the same numbers as men. Within this divide. with creatively designed outreach and accommodation. poor women in developing countries have been at the bottom in terms of development prospects. on a global scale. In general. one of the NGOs organized a Women’s Week. Moreover. corporate control of technology to the list. only 250 were women compared with a whopping 2. ethnic. this trend is being challenged and. changed. legal and human rights mitigating against progress. nearly three times as many men as women have registered with a center. The results not only confirmed and quantified that fact but also indicated other valuable insights into usage patterns. However. In Ghana. soon offering an Open Day for the Central Region Association of Female Entrepreneurs. Targeted marketing to women at organized groups such as NGOs. and limited social. from only one woman in the first month to 85 in the ninth. though the number of women returning to the center dropped off slowly during subsequent weeks. poor health.

has concentrated on developing interactive radio instruction programs in some of the least developed countries. the USAID/Namibiafunded Computer-Assisted Teacher Training (CATT) project. However. training centers. TAG Members Steve Cisler is an independent consultant and long-time educational technology expert whose current interests involve public centers for equal Internet access and using the Internet for cultural preservation. a long-time educational technology expert and independent consultant. unemployment. Inc. Habib Sy. Namibia has been committed to the removal of the last vestiges of apartheid’s social and economic policies. • • Computer-assisted training courses for teachers and other educators. LearnLink’s role includes developing the following: • Prototype curriculum-based training materials for primary school students. Director of the T elecommunications Management and Policy Program at the University of San Francisco. Kathleen Fulton.C. Specific topics discussed included computer-mediated professional development. Heather Hudson. 3 . development. Training and incorporation of “Master Information Teachers” into the administrative structure of the MBEC and NIED as champions of teaching/ learning technologies. and the menacing incidence of HIV/AIDS persist as major development challenges. A communications network linking educators to NIED through the Internet and other technologies. Errol Miller. a long-time communications specialist fromSenegal. and institutional strengthening through the use of information. Gaining Insights from Panel of Experts LearnLink’s Annual TAG Meeting LearnLink held its Third Annual T echnical Advisory Group (TAG) meeting on January 10–12. As part of the greater plan to improve teacher training. and TAG members provided their insights and perspectives. high student failure rates. Since its independence in 1990. Lynn Fontana of Nobel Learning Communities. systems and connectivity. is currently coordinating Partners for African Development. and existing teacher training methods are inadequate for dealing with these disparities. One of the most important aspects of the education reform initiative is the improvement of teacher training programs.Namibia Reforms Education with Computers LearnLink is helping to improve teacher training in Namibia through its newest Task Order. from the University of Maryland’s Center for Learning and Education al T echnology (CETL). 2000 in AED’s Conference Center in Washington. Maurice Imhoof. teacher education and qualifications are uneven across regions. community learning centers. population growth rates. inadequate though it may be. and demonstration center for advancing technology-facilitated learning and professional development. and colleges of education further add to the difficulties teachers face in gaining some training. is actively involved in curriculum and training issues related to media and technology. education and communication technologies (IECTs). • • Integration of teaching/learning technology concepts into the national policy dialogue. D. has planned and evaluated communication projects in more than 30 developing countries. computers in schools. The great distances between schools. Head of the Institute of Education at the University of the W Indies. a Dakar-based NGO with special emphasis on African communications policies. is helping to design a research. is an expert in the est professional development of teachers and general education matters throughout the Caribbean. Currently. Working in collaboration with Namibia’s Ministry of Basic Education and Culture (MBEC) and the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED). Staff presented findings and lessons emerging fromfield experience. USAID/Namibia is working to improve the education sector overall.

as well as documents that may shed light on the legitimacy of their ancient territorial claims. starting with programs of linguistic restoration. and other USAID Bureaus. LearnLink’s publications are free of AED 1825 Connecticut Avenue NW Washington. It is operated by the Academy for Educational Development (AED).What’s New LearnLink is a regular contributor to TechKnowLogia. Check out LearnLink’s articles on Community Learning Centers in Ghana and Paraguay and the global “Gender for copies. Indefinite Quantities Contract (No.aed. Two of LearnLink’s Country Papers are now available on-line as hypertext national and global levels. The NDL fulfills the demonstration and information exchange obligations of the LearnLink contract. “The Internet and Indigenous Groups. HNE-I-00-96-00018-00) of the U. From newsletters to country briefs to conceptual papers. See www.aed. These are enhanced versions of our paper documents with hyperlinks to additional resources in LearnLink’s web site and the Internet. LearnLink’s work is one more example of the ways in which modern communication technology is contributing to cultural survival for indigenous groups.” http://www. which also houses the National Demonstration Laboratory for Interactive Information Technologies (NDL). Anthony Meyer G/HCD/BELS (202) 712-4137 ameyer@usaid.techknowlogia. Email mfontain@aed. LearnLink is a five-year. email. offices and missions. an online journal dealing with the broad domain of issues related to technology for knowledge and learning at the local. See www. and the Internet. the Africa Bureau. Luis Rodriguez G/HCD/BELS (202) 712-0168 LearnLink Project. DC 20009 Fax: (202) 884-8979 Email: learnlink@aed. It is funded by the Human Capacity Development Center in the USAID Global Bureau.” See www.html. LearnLink produces a variety of publications about its field experiences and the concepts behind Dr. LearnLink has been a featured link in the Johns Hopkins University/Center for Communication Program’s (JHU/CCP) home page. continued from page 1) Education staff to increase their effectiveness in the use of learnlink/copapers. Dennis Foote Project Director (202) 884-8708 Steven Dorsey Deputy Director (202) 884-8724 sdorsey@aed. The Maya themselves are “working to retrieve all the information that pertains to their culture.” (Cultural Survival Quarterly.html). Agency for International Development (USAID). Several times over the past few months. For additional information contact: and click on the version you need. (Guatemala. Visit www. LearnLink’s recent publications are now available in Spanish and French in easily-downloadable PDF 4 .