Fifty seven million children are still unable to attend school while around
two fifty million do not have adequate learning facilities at primary schools,
said Liesbet Steer, Fellow at Center for Universal Education. There is a need
to focus on the children who do not have access to quality education which is
still a big challenge. The global learning process is facing a crisis affecting
nearly 250 million children at the primary level of education.
Extending the education cover to all the children around the world is a
difficult task, which however can be addressed in a better way through a
diversified targeting structure. At the same time, it is encouraging to see the
decreasing number of out of school primary aged children, the number of such
children reduced by half over the last decade.
Various reports reveal that socioeconomic and sociocultural barriers are the
biggest hurdles to primary aged children. It includes early age marriage,
inadequate infrastructure, poor teaching quality, and a weak accountability
mechanism. However, the telecom sector provides us an opportunity to overcome
such barriers at a larger scale.
The contemporary developments in telecom sector enable smartphones and
tablets to play an important role in promoting quality educational content for
communities. The impact of wireless education might be quite high in Pakistan,
where around 25 million children are out of school. Further, around half of
those attending the school are not learning in a satisfactory manner. Hence,
the traditional approach towards expanding the scale of education is unable to
Mobile technology can provide the largest connectivity platform across the
world with the help of 3G/4G technology. More importantly, it can add
incredible opportunities in the education sector. It has potential to change
people’s lives if supported with strategic planning. Advanced wireless
technologies can bring global communities closer by investing in education related
programs. In this way, the telecom sector wireless projects can support social
sector developments. Well-connected wireless devices can provide a set of
opportunities for learning resources. Providing access to wireless technologies
would enable the out of the class-room students practice the contemporary
knowledge and skill-set.
The 3G/4G technology can link students to university scholarships in both
natural and social sciences. It would also improve their leadership and
technical skills. The collaboration of public and private sectors can make
interactive afterschool programs. At a smaller scale, it can connect teachers
and students residing in different places. However at a larger scale, it can
connect students of various universities, research centers and think tanks
across the globe through virtual mentoring procedures. This method would secure
equitable opportunities at the workplace and would also help companies to touch
new horizons of innovation through diverse and inclusive labor-force.
The expansion in 3G technology is increasing day by day in India, where it
got more than double during 2013, exceeding the world average. On average, the
consumption of 3G network was more than three times compared to the 2G network
indicating an increasing trend towards advance technology. The 3G contributed a
lot in information sharing; its share in overall data sharing increased to 43%
in 2013 from 33% in 2012. The data shows that the active users of 3G technology
increased by 50% in 2013 in India.
The 3G/4G technology can add around PKR 380 billion to GDP (Gross Domestic
Product) up to 2020. The present size of Pakistan’s economy is estimated at PKR
26 trillion and a minimum addition of PKR 380 billion means a positive impact
of 1.5% of GDP. On the other hand, any delay would have eroded these benefits
resulting in socioeconomic losses.
The mobile broadband has the potential to bring a fundamental change in
education sector across the globe. The potential benefit associated with
revolutionizing the field of education is just the beginning. In 2013, mobile
broadband subscriptions surpassed around two billion across the globe and it is
expected to exceed 9.3 billion in 2019.
Pakistan can take enormous advantages from upgrading its broadband base.
Currently, there are around 30 million internet users in the country
and half of them browse the web with their mobile phone. Further, its
internet penetration rate has crossed 16%, while the increase in broadband
subscribers was doubled during the last two years making Pakistan the 5th
largest cellphone market in Asia.
This indicates that upgrading and increasing access to broadband technology
can facilitate teachers and students to track and read millions of books,
articles, research work, and online lectures on various subjects. It
would reduce the barriers existing between students of traditional schools and
global knowledge market. By reducing these traditional constraints, it would
facilitate children globally in developing their knowledge, and skill-sets.
Though the government’s plan to hold an auction of 3G/4G licenses in April
2014 went as planned, but it seriously needs to chalk out how to utilize the
potential benefits associated with this technology in education sector. In the
very short-run, it can follow the success stories in other countries such as
the WE Learn mobile education program in Singapore, and the proposed WeTech
program encouraging young women towards education in United Stated and India.
This article was originally published at:
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.