Online education in the developing world

Lack of reading skills and literacy skills will remain key obstacles to providing access to online resources and opportunity to the third billion of Internet users. In particular in Brazil where blindness and visual impairment rates are high  with 6.5 million people suffering from blindness or impaired vision (the global figure is 285 million) the availability of audio description software and other disability support options will play an important role.   

The assumption used to be people required traditional literacy in order to become computer literate. However this is no longer a straight forward sequential relationship. Information and technology literacy can often precede the ability to read and write.

India has over a million schools – but in any one day 3,500 of them have no teachers. Therefore access to online education resources will continue to have a huge impact. In India not enough young people are going to university. High school dropout rates are at 70% with the total number of students in university at 10-12 million. The government wants to raise this to 30 million. In this context 1000 new universities are required, along with the appropriate number of professors with the right skill sets to teach 20 million additional students. This is not something that can be quickly achieved. Instead a hub and spoke model has been adopted, where a professor with the right skills can broadcast online to a series of different classrooms supported by less experienced teachers. This creates a blended learning environment which maximises the potential of intermediary supported remote access to teaching expertise.