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Technology and Education

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Text Preview WORKING PAPER 1 | JANUARY 2012

B R O O K E S H E A R E R W O R K I N G PA P E R S E R I E S

A NEW FACE OF EDUCATION
BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD REBECCA WINTHROP AND MARSHALL S. SMITH

Global Economy and Development
at BROOKINGS

BROOKE SHEARER W O R K I N G PA P E R S E R I E S
This working paper series is dedicated to the memor y of Brooke Shearer (1950-2009), a loyal friend of the Brookings Institution and a respected journalist, government official and non-governmental leader. This series focuses on global poverty and development issues related to Brooke Shearer’s work, including: women’s empowerment, reconstruction in Afghanistan, HIV/AIDS education and health in developing countries. Global Economy and Development at Brookings is honored to carry this working paper series in her name.

Rebecca Winthrop is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution.

Marshal S. Smith was the former director of international affairs in the U.S. Department of Education and a senior counselor to Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to April Hammons Golden who provided invaluable research assistance and to Matthew L. Smith and his IDRC colleagues, and also to Anthony Bloome, Justin van Fleet, and Anda Adams for their useful insights and comments. This paper series was made possible through generous contributions to the Brooke Shearer Memorial Fund. Special thanks also go to Qatar Foundation International, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Spencer Foundation for their support.*

*Brookings recognizes that the value it provides to any donor in its absolute commitment to quality, independence and impact. Activities sponsored by its donors reflect this commitment and neither the research agenda, content, nor outcomes are influenced by any donation.

A NEW FACE OF EDUC ATION: BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD

3

A NEW FACE OF EDUCATION
BRINGING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CLASSROOM IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD REBECCA WINTHROP AND MARSHALL S. SMITH

INTRODUCTION
In the small village of Hafizibad in Pakistan’s Punjab province, a young girl is using her mobile phone to send an SMS message in Urdu to her teacher. After sending, she receives messages from her teacher in response, which she diligently copies by hand in her notebook to practice her writing skills. She does this from the safety of her home, and with her parents’ permission, during the school break, which is significant due to the insecurity of the rural region in which she lives. The girl is part of a Mobilink-UNESCO program to increase literacy skills among girls in Pakistan. Initial outcomes look positive; after four months, the percentage of girls who achieved an A level on literacy examinations increased from 27 percent to 54 percent. Likewise, the percentage of girls who achieved a C level on examinations decreased from 52 percent to 15 percent.1 The power of mobile phone technology, which is fairly widespread in Pakistan, appears in this case to help hurdle several education barriers by finding new ways to support learning for rural girls in insecure areas—girls who usually have limited opportunities to attend school and who frequently do not receive individual attention when they do. Often they live in households with very few books or other materi-

als to help them retain over summer vacation what they learned during the school year.

On the other side of the world, in South America, the deployment of technology for education has not been so promising. In Peru, a number of colorful laptops sit in a corner of a classroom covered with dust. Given to the school through a One Laptop Per Child program arranged by the Ministry of Education, the laptops were intended to improve students’ information communication technology (ICT) skills, as well as their content-related skills. Without the proper support for... Show More

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