ICTs changing education in developing countries: Richard Rowe at TEDxPlazaCibeles



we've just seen a tremendous example of what technology can do in terms of changing in the lives of thousands of children and in fact changing the culture itself so it's not just just what's happening to an individual child but what's happening to the entire country of your way as a result of the work that Savalas doing under the extraordinary leadership of Miguel and I want to take then this and expand beyond the one country where which which can serve as a model for all of us in many respects including to the United States because you know Uruguay has gone far beyond the United States in terms of what is possible by the use of technology to transform education to make it more personalized more creative more ability to in fact have everyone be both a teacher and a learner so that the we're all teachers and learners at the same time and I want to take this now and expand to the world as a whole and and my basic message is here today is that in fact more than ever we as a society require an educated citizenry this is not an option anymore we are connected together in a way largely bike technology in a way that has never been possible before and which brings us all together so that we're all in the same boat in effect and we need this and that in fact to do that requires a great deal of creativity which are talked about encouraged because change is not easy to do and so it's not simply creativity that we require new ideas new ways of handling of dealing with education but also we need a lot of courage in that process my thesis is that has just might be possible now some people look at the world today and say well what are we dealing with what is the population we're dealing with we're doing of the 7 billion people in the world roughly 2 billion of us are under the age of 15 and less than 200 million of that of those of these children of ours under the age of 15 living the so-called developed port and Uruguay is one of those developed countries it's not an underdeveloped country so what the open learning exchanges focused on – what happens to that 1.8 billion what happens to that over 90% of the children in the world under the age of 15 what is their future what will happen there and most of these are hungry have little or no schooling and the question is what goes on what will what will be the possibilities for them just a couple of weeks ago I was in the Congo and I met with a a bunch of young children and Celeste here was one of them this les came up to me after after I met with her and she said you know I want to learn I want to be able to contribute to my community how can I do that what what can I do she asked me what can i what can she do to make this happen and you could see looking right into her eyes and I took her took a picture I wanted to have that in my own mind as I thought we need a better answer for Celeste and for the 1.8 billion people now Celeste is in a school that has no electricity no plumbing comes to school two thirds of the month she comes to school without having breakfast because her parents get paid in the first of the month she gets breakfast for ten days and then no breakfast for the rest of the month that's her life the question is what do we say to her now there are will be people who say don't we already have enough problems I mean you know why why do we have any responsibility for Celeste it's a reasonable question because we got lots of problems global warming a financial crisis throughout many parts of the world we've got lots of problems but the interesting thing about each of these problems is that education is at the center of each of them without an educated population these problems will simply get worse alright so although education is the only solution that we have to deal with by any means it is a Cesario not a sufficient condition for us to address these problems and when we come to education it's not that simple either because in fact there are a lot of things we don't agree upon whether it's the importance of schools the important technology replace teachers there's a whole lot of issues that we that we or do not agree upon and the question is why is it that we are not in more grip why aren't we not more together about making the kinds of tech we're smart people there are solutions out there we see those solutions why aren't we working more effectively together to do that and one of the reasons I think is because we are too much in a box we're not thinking out-of-the-box enough work locked into that one box and we're looking for a solution only in that box and in fact part of that box says that there's a not enough it's very common for us to think there's simpler it's not enough there's not enough goods around the world and so we have to scramble for the scarce goods that are there if if if somebody else gets that we're out of goods and there's not enough goodness that basically a lot of us think that we are fundamentally just concerned about ourselves a really kind of fundamentally greedy people as long as we have that frame of reference when we deal with the issue of that there's not enough goods to go around there not enough goodness in this if that's our frame we end up playing a game of scarcity where one person or one person or a small group of people get all the goods and the rest of us are broke and in many respects that's the world that we live in today in which wealth is so highly concentrated and very and a large majority of the people at least these 1.8 billion children I'm talking about they get left out so let's see what happens if we've reframed and redefined the crisis okay and let's think about in terms of possibilities now I'm not a pessimist about the future but I'm not an optimist either I like to think of myself as a possible issed I think a lot of things are possible that will look but they will and upon us upon what you do and what the rest of us are in the position of making change possible do and so let's look at some of the possibilities I think there's a possibility that there's enough for all of us if we're just smart enough about how we if we waste less if we're smart enough about what the resources are there there's a possibility that there's plenty for all of us and there's a possibility that under the right conditions we can be good now we can all of us be really bad under certain conditions but if we create the conditions that lead to the best in us there's a possibility that can happen just a possibility so who are we now the interesting thing is we've learned a lot about who human beings are and we can apply that new learning to the kind of solutions that we create as we go forward if we look at who we are in terms of our hardwired within that brain of ours all right what we know is that there are at least four things that are really essential for a human being to thrive we have to have a sense of power a sense that we're a billet able to do things but we're not helpless this is a requirement for us to thrive and you know there's the old saying power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely that's an old saying you we've heard that before it's only half right absolute power does corrupt absolutely but power itself can be a very constructive and important thing in our lives if it's well managed and if it's well distributed often people think about powers being a kind of a negative thing you know and this is often true for women especially and over that that you know power is not something that is good but in fact we need to rethink the role of power and exercise our power reach out and exercise that power for positive things rather than shy away from having power in addition we a sense of meaning that we are people who require a sense that what we're doing has some purpose you're here because you're looking for your exercising your sense of looking for meaning in your own lives okay that's a core part of who we are we also in terms of our of our own ability as but we need to be connected isolation is one of the most difficult most potent powers of punishment you isolate somebody it's really punishing alright so we need an environmental system we need an educational system that involves connection and finally it needs to be a sense of fairness it's very interesting even with you with chimpanzees if you if you starve a chimpanzee and then you say in effect to that pen set you can have some food if you punish your friend next door they won't do it they want to it because they say that's not fair so they will refuse the food because they do not want to participate in something that is a fundamentally unfair time we're human beings that way too so these four these four things are really important for any educational systems to be built into if you don't have that you will not thrive all right now the other thing is that earlier the better this happens we know that when this happens of very young people that in fact they tend to maintain that sense of themselves and that activity over life so it turns out that in fact the best buy in education is the earlier you confess those funny if you put the money into the earliest years you get a far better return than any other level of education University included below due respect to this institution alright and so those are the things that we need to think about is we build an educational system as we change the way education is and what are the conditions that lead us to be able to create those conditions well first of all is distribution to power your concentrate power you don't get good behavior would you just really power you get positive you get effective solutions okay second is transparency if there's secrecy in the system you tend to get bad behavior so transparency in an educational system very critically important first mutual accountability if you're in a situation where essentially blaming other people for the problems then you don't get good solutions but if you accept your own role your own responsibilities a part of this problem and that you have a part of the solution involved in problem rather than it being is simply externalized then you'll get a better more healthy environment that you're working of so the bottom line is that we'd sort of smooth the bottom line right so the bottom line is that we don't really need to be better people we need to learn how to create those conditions in our learning environmental society as a whole that it'll lead us to be to have that sense of being able to thrive by having that sense of empowerment by having meaning by having connection and fairness in our lives that is that what we do and it's possible it's possible it's not inevitable but it's possible so what does this have to energy education I think it's pretty pretty straightforward first of all education needs to move from that one-to-many that pyramidal structure that is so common in education today if you have a teacher and you have the learners we have to leave to move to a many-to-many environments that the Internet has taught us that every one of us including that five-year-old becomes a teacher as well as a learner and the teacher becomes a learner as well as a teacher so we level and we in fact look for the resources that each of us and draw the resources out of each of us that we have regardless of our age regardless of what we mean bring to that to the table learning you know there are three things that really are critical for human beings and I love this the first is we learned something that has already been known that's a learning process that's really important okay the second is to discover something that has never been known it's there but we discovered it's never been known the third is to create something that has never existed before those are the three things that education ought to be about learning things have been known that's important to learn discovering things that have never been known so you add to the body of knowledge and third is to create something brand new that has never existed before that's who we are we thrive when we can do all three of those things the second is to move from exclusion to inclusion there are too many stop signs in education many educational systems are set up so that they're designed to tell virtually everybody at some point that they have failed they're off the letter all right we need to get rid of the ladder and move from a situation where everyone is learning all the time it's not something you prepare for life and then you do what you have learned it's something that is a continuous process throughout life through all parts of life not just in schools and finally we need to move from one-size-fits-all that lock step that Miguel was talking about they're moving toward personalizing to a much more personalized individualized learning system all right now it's easier to say these principles but if we keep them in mind when we're designing is it leads us to the kind of actions that Miguel has been talking about through your way that's the kind of direction that we need to move in so participation inclusion personalization those are the three key things that we need to think about as we refine as weari change and your way is actually doing all three of those things it's really a wonderful example now some simple examples of where is happening it's not simply as Miguel has said it's not simply about simply having a laptop for every child that's great when you can afford it but when you're in Nepal with 7 million children and $40 a year as the budget they're spending we need to have we can't wait until they can get all laptops we have to have other things they can do and here's one example in Ghana where in fact creating a public library in a school that the whole village can use so that is an access to the world of knowledge that is available to all of them using the technology which is to be able to reach an entire village with knowledge all right with a solar cell and with offline doesn't have to be on the internet all the time that sort of thing here in India is a is where one room one teacher multi level elementary school no electricity where in fact every child maintains their own learning ladder where they go up their own letter if they're gone for two or three weeks they come back and continue up the ladder and the teachers and the role of the students help each other learn there are 12 and a half million in students in India in elementary level using this system in Washington DC again example where a simple technology for for for learning to read literacy has moved a class from 10% passing the basic test of almost half of the student but echnology creatively to really help people learn so these are things are real possible but the important thing is to make sure that the underlying principles that you're applying are in fact applied now all of this is great and the really missing link that weak link in all of this is is people more people like Miguel more people who are willing to take the courage would it be creative to really move out and so we've decided to open Learning exchange it's important to have a way to create to train more people in each of these countries around the world we've identified a hundred countries and we need we need hundreds in each of these countries I say a hundred thousand entrepreneurs for education like Miguel I want a hundred thousand Miguel's I want I want them in every country in the world so that they are creatively creating what they need in their country what applies to them what they can do now so we don't lose another generation or two or three of children because we can't afford to do that so that's a very very key part of the sole process and some necessities then we've got to get out of the box we have to be systemic in our change so we're not creating these little castles but we're thinking about how do these things scale throughout an entire country not just freak you kids it has to be scalable there has to be grassroots it has to be owned and treasured by the village itself it cannot be something imposed from the top down and it takes time easy to bring a new technology and very difficult to make social change particularly in those established institutions like education so keep in mind change is experiences lost we need to respect the fact that when they're asking educational we're asking teachers to change its painful process it's a painful process and we need to respect the fact that it is pain I often say have awake have a funeral for the things you're letting go say goodbye to it get the people together and have them in together enjoy and understand that they are giving up and give and and saying goodbye to something that they have treasured have awake for those things that you're getting is so so it's important to understand the importance of that loss it takes courage creativity yes we need creativity no question about it but keep in mind it takes courage as well to make that change and this is always just to keep in mind that if we don't have the kind of educational system that we're talking about these problems will simply get bigger and bigger and so the thing I always like to know it's not possible to know what is impossible alright so don't let anybody ever tell you that this can't be done because they don't know that alright and so always keep in mind that it's not possible to know what is possible as well as it's not possible to know what is impossible and the key for us just to make sure that these kids when they look at the world and they grow up have a chance to become a part of the solution and not a part of the problem for one I think it's possible thank you you you

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