SEATTLE, Washington — According to a report prepared by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 69 million new teachers are required to meet global education goals for 2030. Further, a lack of facilities and materials greatly inhibits many developing countries from providing inclusive access to education. One solution is eLearning. Programs like the Adult Female Literacy Program in Pakistan, eLearnAfrica and the Jamiya Project are showing great promise, even despite challenges in internet access.
To date, the Adult Female Literacy Program has helped more than 4,000 women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan learn to read, write and perform basic calculations. In this province alone, three out of five females cannot read or write. The Literacy Program aims to curb illiteracy with four specially-designed textbooks and free mobile phones for female students. The textbooks take students through a basic literacy curriculum, while the mobile phones are used to practice and master new skills.
Pakistan’s minister of information technology and telecom Anusha Rahman said mobile learning had become an effective medium to improving access to education. “Besides improving access, it has also proved effective in evading structural limitations,” she said. The success of the Literacy Program has been widely recognized, including with the GSMA’s Global Mobile Award in 2013.
eLearnAfrica is a social enterprise committed to expanding access to education and professional development throughout Africa. From test prep and tutoring to courses and full degrees, eLearnAfrica brings the best from universities worldwide to students in Africa through an online platform. A search of available courses for algebra returned four different self-guided course options, including one from Arizona State University and two from the University of Texas at Austin.
With the launch of its website in November 2016, eLearnAfrica has already partly accomplished its goal of increasing access to education by tallying 385,000 unique visitors in less than two months. Participating institution the Zambian Open University (ZAOU) expects to double its student intake in 2017 thanks to its partnering with eLearnAfrica.
In Syria, the Jamiya Project connects refugees with European universities and Syrian academics using new education technologies. Pilot courses in Applied IT and Global Studies are being offered online and can be accessed from within the Amman and Za’atari camps in Jordan. Both e-courses are certified by Sweden’s University of Gothenburg.
According to a recent E.U. Commission report, there are currently more than 90,000 Syrian refugees living without access to education. The Jamiya Project’s 12-week pilot courses are free, taught in Arabic and designed to be accessible. The Jamiya Project also plans to release an app, called the Jamiya VOCAPP, which will provide access in multiple languages.
Reliable electricity and internet are essential for the success of eLearning programs. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, five countries currently have less than three percent internet access, according to a U.N. report. These countries are Chad, Sierra Leone, Niger, Somalia and Eritrea. There is more work to be done, but with a growing number of eLearning programs available to help those in the developing world, access to education could one day be free to all regardless of circumstances.
– Ashley Henyan