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What Are The Top 6 Barriers to ICT4Edu Success in Secondary Schools?

By Wayan Vota on January 10, 2014

Go ahead, name them. Yes, count them off with your fingers. I bet you can name six in less than 60 seconds. You probably got to 16 or 26 in that time period. Bonus points if you add your list in the comments section.


Well the smart folks over at Columbia University Teachers College, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Kampala University, and University of Nairobi did a year-long study of Ericsson’s Connect To Learn schools and found these six barriers to integrating Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) into secondary education settings in rural sub-Saharan Africa.

  1. Physical Infrastructure
  2. ICT Infrastructure
  3. Teacher ICT and Pedagogical Skills and Knowledge
  4. Open Source Teaching and Learning Resources
  5. Student ICT Participation and Knowledge
  6. Public-Private Partnership Implementation

I do seriously hope that you named these six right at the start, and then went into the systematic issues including historic and continued underinvestment in education at all levels by government, poor teacher morale, lack of basic school infrastructure like toilets and books, etc.

I don’t want to harp on the report authors too much, but we already knew all this. I wrote about these issues on OLPCnews.com back in 2006, and Inveneo built entire solution ecosystems to address these problems in 2008. While the report has pretty pictures and a really cool layout, I am wondering why none of the 35 report authors and contributors yelled “stop the presses!” and pushed for the report to uncover things we don’t know.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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4 Comments to “What Are The Top 6 Barriers to ICT4Edu Success in Secondary Schools?”

  1. Tim Hatt, Senior Analyst, Mobile for Development Intelligence says:

    These are all indeed barriers. While network coverage and education infrastructure (e.g. schools, teachers) are important, technology literacy is becoming increasingly important in this space. Governments and mobile operators need to jointly educate students on use of mobile phones in accessing educational content. As an aside, while SMS is the most common way of delivering mobile-enabled services, voice is actually an effective way of overcoming this literacy barrier, increasing potential audience reach. It is also attractive for financial reasons, with a generally lower long run cost than SMS (see MDI’s report, ‘Value of voice’ here: https://mobiledevelopmentintelligence.com/insight/Value_of_Voice_-_an_unsung_opportunity)

  2. Tim Hatt, Senior Analyst, Mobile for Development Intelligence says:

    IVR tends to be inversely correlated with literacy rates. South Asia has a lower literacy rate (on average) than much of Africa, making the value of IVR higher

  3. Michael Hanson says:

    Hi everyone,
    If you are a software developer or simply have a burning desire to reduce illiteracy rates and improve global education, you should be interested in this new challenge http://bit.ly/1jRqBJ1. The All Children Reading (ACR) Global Challenge Development (GCD) is hosting Enabling Writers, a $100,000 prize competition aimed at finding technological solutions to improve reading skills for children in developing countries. Enabling Writers seeks to spur the development of software that easily allows authors to write and publish materials to help primary school children in developing countries learn to read in mother tongue languages. In the first round of the prize, three finalists will be awarded $12,000 each and offered feedback to improve their submissions for field testing. The technological solution that best enables local writers to quickly and easily create appropriate and interesting texts that follow tested reading instruction methodologies, and provide the optimum reading and learning experience for early primary school children, will win the $100,000 grand prize.
    Established in 2011 as a partnership between USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government, ACR GCD aims to catalyze the creation and expansion of scalable, low-cost education tools and initiatives to improve literacy for early-primary students. To learn more about the Challenge and to apply, go to http://bit.ly/1jRqBJ1 or follow us at on Twitter https://twitter.com/ReadingGCD
    ps Please share the link and spread word about the challenge. The more applications and solvers we have, the more chance we have of finding a long-lasting solution and reducing global illiteracy rates. 