Utilising eLearning In Developing Countries
In recent years, eLearning has been all the rage in western countries such as America, Great Britain, and Canada. It allows working professionals to earn degrees, study on their own schedule, and not have to commute to a far-flung campus for classes or advisory meetings. But now, even relatively undeveloped nations are reaping the benefits of eLearning, and utilizing eLearning in developing countries is becoming increasingly important. Here, we’ll detail some of the reasons eLearning is benefiting these countries, and why we should ensure it continues to do so.
One of the main reasons there are so many benefits in utilising eLearning in developing countries is that it cuts down on much of the infrastructural costs that deter many students.
Cutting out expenses such as classroom space and textbook rental/purchase makes educational much more affordable to people living in developing countries.
The use of eLearning also helps eliminate logistical issues that can occur in these countries, such as poor public transport or a lack of suitable roads entirely.
Students can fit in coursework and lectures around their own schedules and work hours, and therefore are not wasting valuable time traveling to and from university, or risking their job and livelihood in order to attend classes.
Online education and eLearning not only benefit students, but a country’s economy as a whole.
Some of these benefits include:
Having a more educated workforce improves a nation’s economy, and also creates a competitive market for foreign investors.
Although there is still a cost involved in establishing eLearning capabilities in a developing country, it is not nearly as high as building traditional learning facilities, and often foreign aid from UNESCO and other international NGOs are available to support countries through this process.
Case Study: Africa
Africa is at the head of the eLearning trend and is showing tremendous leaps in this field. As a whole, the continent is forecasted to have a 15% annual growth rate for the next 4 years. Individual countries, such as Senegal and Zambia, are at the forefront of this growth and expansion: both countries are expected to grow up to 30% in the reach and deployment of eLearning technology.
In Somalia, students at the University of Hargeisa can participate in classes at Indiana University through the use of special classrooms and technology provided by the African Virtual University, which has 29 distance learning centers to connect African students with universities around the world. Skype and WhatsApp connect professors and students, and AVU is even working on making lectures available via mobile phones. This kind of development in education and eLearning is welcome news to a region with the lowest university attendance in the world: in sub-Saharan Africa only 6% of school-leavers attend university (as opposed to the worldwide average of 26%).
Although there are still some concerns over course completion, as many students do not complete individual modules, let alone entire courses, experts are working to alleviate this concern through finding a balance between online learning and in-person instruction and accountability.
Case Study: India
Within ever-increasing government support for eLearning, India is fast becoming one of the world’s leaders in this educational arena. Currently estimated at $20 billion, India’s online education market size is set to increase to $40 billion by 2017. Some of the reasons for this exponential growth include:
The existing school system: India currently contains over 1 million schools and 18,000 higher education institutions, all of which could benefit from eLearning resources.
India’s demographics: over 1.2 billion people live in India, and nearly half fall into the target market for education, eLearning, and other online educational resources.
In a country in which roads, transport systems, and wealth vary dramatically by region, eLearning offers a level playing field for all students. Learners in the poorest villages can take advantage of the same educational resources as learners in the most cosmopolitan cities, all thanks to online classes offered at affordable prices.
Case Study: Latin America
Unfortunately, Latin America is often most known for its drug trade and for being one of the most violent and volatile regions in the world. But eLearning is helping to change all of that through the implementation of online education programs in prisons. Here’s a breakdown of Latin America’s prison problem:
Currently, 1.3 million of the world’s 10 million prisoners belong to Latin America. This equates to 229 prisoners per every 100,000 people in the region (the world average is 144 per 100,000).
Over the past 20 years, incarceration rates have increased by 120% due to the drug wars during this period, leaving the government with the problem of how to reintegrate this increased number of prisoners into society upon their release.
The answer to these issues? Online education. Research has shown that the use of online educational suites that emphasize vocational and technical training have led to a 43% lower chance that inmates return to prison. Inmates in countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina who participated in these programs were also 13% more likely to find a job upon release, another critical factor in successful reintegration into society. Keeping prisoners from reoffending also saves these countries significant amounts of money: indeed, for every $1 spent on online education, the state saves $4-5 as a result.
Some Final Reflections
As demonstrated, several developing countries around the world are benefiting from the use of eLearning and online education while the rates and the quality of traditional education processes constantly drops down.
Not only does eLearning benefit the students, who learn important skills and increase their career potential, but it also helps countries to save money, attract foreign investment, and sustain a healthy economy.