20 Apr 2013

Let us Enable Children Right to Education with ICT

In the face of emerging global challenges including climatic change, heath, economic crisis and cultural issues, education remains the foundation for innovation and the advancement of human kind. Hence it is important for us to respond to these crucial problems to provide access to education by all. 

[ Lahugala Village Youth in a class room listening to a teacher]
Theoretically this idea sounds wonderful and inspiring, but how many children in the world have access to quality education and how many have not? The answer is not easy to find as many nations do not have clear statistics of children who do not have access to even primary education. We don't have to run to deep African or Asian villages to find the graveness of this problem; we can see, feel and hear it around the corners of our cities.
United Nations Millennium Goals has put much weight on achieving universal primary education by 2015. Looking at my own village I am not convinced that primary education alone could help children, the youth of tomorrow to get Employed. Nations already acquired much of this goal need to look beyond Millennium Goals to train their youth.
It is accepted that the basic necessities of humans are food, clothing and shelter. "These basic necessities only can help a person live like an animal who only wants to live another day" said my teacher when I was little. In my view, to live in a civilized society education is a not a want, but a basic need that adds to food, clothing and shelter. I believe access to education should be a human right. With this right enabled rest of the rights will follow.
An educated many may not beat his wife like an uneducated person in most cases. so women are empowered. An educated man shall protect environment, promote peace and empower others unlike a person without right education. I belive education as the fundamental solution to address most of the global problems.
However, the question remains how we get our yuth to have a good education, as we agree that it can be the answer to eradicating poverty, developing a healthy society, and bringing communal harmony and peace to the world.
While we understand the depth of this problem, we also need to develop new ways of thinking to solve this problem. It's commendable that many developing nations have put much effort into rural education development, but their problem remains with many children dropping school early and hence not being able to attain 21st century skills.
We need to think and act fast to find better ways of education. Those new ways can not be just improvements of existing systems, which are mostly and currently unjustified. We need to think radically and liberally to bring newer solutions and means of delivering education to all children in the world by considering it as a critical need of the human kind just now!
We need to think beyond our vision, obstacles and break barriers with breakthrough thinking and innovation to change existing paradigms to ensure children right to quality education. It's not a one way, but only way of making our world sustainable and survivable in the face of emerging challenges. It is only education which can develop children to be future saviors of planet earth and it's human civilization.
In a far village of Sri Lanka, where we work for education development with Telecentres, a parent said "I am trying to feed my child and find water for my farm, how am I supposed to take him to school everyday?", an expression of a typical problem faced by rural children in continuing their education. It's hard for us to bypass their day to day issues in our solutions.
It simply tells us that we need to change the system and find ways to bring education to young people. It may not be fair for us to only criticize the problems in education delivery to children without at least pointing a direction for solutions that can be implemented in a sustainable manner. One way we can try to solve this global problem is to use technology in innovative ways.
E learning/Digital learning and Mobile learning, for example, offers simpler and better solutions that ensure youth and children right to education. I think the time is quite right, it is only our commitment which is needed to make it happen. If I am given one wish by Almighty , it would be to deliver quality education to all the children that are currently isolated from the knowledge of the world. Since it's not yet happening though I wish, I would try use Telecentres to achieve my wish to deliver a quality education as it simply works.

[ Youth using Shilpa Sayura to learn media editing at Lahugala Nenasala Telecentre, Sri Lanka]

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