A recent UN report concludes that the global digital divide is significant, even though it is slowly closing. As ICT is a major contributor to economic growth, emerging economies are doing their best to increase technological literacy.
India: Radio Sesame
At a community radio station in the north of India, Sohrab broadcasts a lively mix of education and entertainment based on Galli Galli Sim Sim, the Indian equivalent of Sesame Street. There are no televisions in the area so people have very few opportunities to watch programmes or films or even listen to radio.
The programme is so popular that it is even used in schools as a teaching support. Galli Galli Sim Sim is part of a Radiophone project which aims to bridge the education gap between rural India where the majority of people live, and cities where access to technology makes it easier to get an education.
On air since 2011, the programme has reached over 1.4 million people.
The population of Riobamba, in Ecuador is around 200,000 and the local economy relies mainly on agriculture. In one school there, they have integrated online e-learning tools into the classroom.
It is considered that for e-learning to work, teachers have to embrace it, computer labs have to be available and both teachers and students have to harness their creativity.
In this centre, students use the internet and have access to software like Exam Time which helps them put material into a learning context, create mind maps, and self-assess.
Another advantage is that students’ work is always available online which allows for collaboration.
Costa Rica: never too late
In Costa Rica, for her 17 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, Miss Socorro is the family go to resource when it comes to computing. But it wasn’t always that way. She used to be scared of breaking the computer, but continued her course step by step until she finished it.
She learned at the Intelligent Community Centre of Cañas, one of 256 labs spread across Costa Rica. Adult learners learn how to use a word processing programme, surf the internet and build websites.
Every year around 20,000 people gain diplomas at these Intelligent Community Centres. Many of the students are from low income communities and get tuition and scholarships from the government in order to obtain a technical degree. Now, they receive money to teach older people.
It is a revelation for many adult learners. In Costa Rica, the digital divide has closed dramatically, with training available across around 70 percent of the country.