Poverty Alleviation Through Access to Education: Can E-Learning Deliver?
U21Global Working Paper No. 002/2006
18 Pages Posted: 15 May 2010
Date Written: July 1, 2006
Access to education has long been considered an important vehicle for poverty alleviation and tremendous efforts (national as well as international) have been made to broaden such access in LDCs. The ICT revolution in the past decade has greatly facilitated such efforts as education can now be provided to millions living in inaccessible (rural, mountainous, or landlocked) areas at the click of a mouse and at a relatively low cost without compromising quality. The webbased mode of education, popularly known as “e-learning”, has the capacity to make the acquisition of human capital cheaper and easier in poverty-ridden LDCs. Also, e-learning eliminates the human capital ‘bootstrapping problem’ by guaranteeing ‘just-in-time’ training of a superior quality at employees’ fingertips (literally and metaphorically!) It also has the potential to help reduce poverty by empowerment of the socially disadvantaged and less privileged in society including lower-income groups, the handicapped, sick and disabled (particularly those with writing, speaking and hearing impairments), members of ethnic minority groups, and women affected by cultural and religious prejudice. This is possible largely because, as this paper argues, physical location or ability is not critical for successful e-learning. The authors canvass all of these issues before proposing a new model for the optimal level of education in developing countries.
Keywords: E-learning, Online education, Poverty, Knowledge economy, Lifelong learning, Optimal education
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