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The findings > Applying new technologies in basic education > Part 4
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With this brief summary we can now review some of the distinctive ways in which technologies have been used in the last decade to serve the needs of three different basic education audiences - children and adolescents, general adult population and what we are calling intermediaries (teachers, extension agents and health workers). Our aim here is not to provide exhaustive or definitive lists of projects using different technologies but to identify some illuminating experience and if possible capture the main trends in a fast-changing scene.

The use of technologies for children in school, mainly using broadcasts and computer-based technologies, are for the most part designed to raise quality or to support curricular change. Out-of-school programmes are addressed to various different audiences including the geographically remote, marginalised communities, and minorities seeking supplementary schooling. These two areas will be discussed separately.


The disparities between and within countries demonstrably affect the resources available for children in school. While, as noted above, some well-endowed schools in rich countries will have suites of computers in most classrooms, there remain many schools within developing countries which lack much simpler technologies: the basic tools for measuring or calculating, enough pens, pencils and rulers, or blackboards or textbooks. We need to avoid losing sight of these disparities which exist within, as well as between, countries.

The disparities and the level of available resources are likely to affect and inform policy on the choice of technologies. We know that multi-media teaching can improve the quality of the learning experience, particularly where teachers are knowingly exploiting the strengths of individual media and using combinations judiciously. They are used to raise quality, support curricular change, extend the range of courses available and to introduce new learning experiences. Both school broadcasts and computers have been used to raise the quality of classroom teaching and to broaden the curriculum. But there is often a distinction between the way in which the two sets of technologies have been used. Within developing countries, broadcasts have often been seen as a universal service, aimed at all children in a particular subject at a particular level, even if they have not achieved that universal coverage. The relatively modest cost of radios, and the simplicity of maintaining them, makes this possible. In contrast, most computer use in basic education has been on an experimental and pilot basis, aimed at strengthening education in a small group of schools, with results that may in due course be applied more generally.

The major purpose of introducing, using, and developing new technologies in school has been to raise quality at a time of educational expansion. The capacity of the technologies to share and distribute information has prompted their use in addressing particular educational problems of expansion and quality. Their use at the upper end of basic education provides an example. Spurred in part by the Jomtien conference, enrolments at primary level have expanded and have in their turn led to new demands further up the educational system and the age group. Much larger numbers of children complete primary education, see that there are then few jobs available to them, and want to move on to junior secondary education. One consequence is an unsatisfied demand for teachers with the specialist knowledge and skills to teach at junior secondary level. Many teachers have moved up from primary to junior-secondary teaching and, in some cases, have been able to use resources through communication technology to help them in their new task. At the same time there are the beginnings of the use of the same materials both in school and out and the development of new structures for adolescents who cannot get into school which we consider below (4.2)

The choice of technologies is heavily influenced by economics but also varies with the level of education. Radio has probably been more significant for the education of younger children; most interactive radio instruction, for example, has been aimed at primary schools. At junior secondary level there is more experience of the use of computer technologies and of school broadcasting. We look, in turn, at some examples of the major technologies being used.

4.1.1 Computers

As we saw (3.4.1) computers have been used in the classroom for a variety of different reasons. While most recent attention has focused on the use of computers to get access to the Internet, other uses have, until quite recently, dominated school activity. We look below at some examples of computer use for curriculum change, for getting access to Internet resources, for school linking, and for sharing resources, sometimes through the setting up of virtual courses. The experience described is biased towards the north rather than the south, reflecting economic realities.


Many of the early computer developments in schools reflected a desire to increase understanding about computers among the workforce of the future rather than to change the curriculum more generally or to offer a new means of communication.

One significant exception that serves to illustrate the curricular opportunities is a project in Costa Rica using the LOGO programming language. The Costa Rican Computers in education programme was launched in 1988 with the aim of raising the quality of education in primary schools. The programme specifically aimed to use a constructivist approach, to encourage collaboration among the children involved and to raise cognitive skills. Advisers, principals and teachers were trained on the LOGO software and the principles behind its use. The programme was designed to reach one-third of all primary school children in the country with some 80 minutes per week access to computers. Although gains in student learning were not assessed, there appears to be positive evidence of the impact of the programme 'with positive effects on enrollments and computer interactions, ¼[and a] tendency for students and teachers to move towards more egalitarian relationships. ¼ Under these more self-directed circumstances, teachers reportedly see capabilities in their students that were not observed prior to the introduction of technology in the schools' (Inés et al. 1998: 28-9).

The Costa Rican experience is of particular interest as its aim was not to strengthen understanding of, or facility with, computers but to use them in order to reach more general educational ends.


Industrialised, middle-income and even some least-developed countries have begun to find ways of providing schools with Internet links. Some are a long way down the road. In Slovenia, for example, more than 80% of primary and 93% of secondary schools have access to the Internet. Examples in developing countries include SchoolNet South Africa programme, a Uganda SchoolNet Pilot and the Enlaces project in Chile. The Enlaces project plans to connect 8 250 primary schools (50% of the total in Chile) and 100% of the 1 700 secondary schools by 2000. All these initiatives have required the deployment of hardware, and arrangement for it to be serviced, acquiring software, and putting in the necessary arrangements to train the teachers.

Once connected, children are using the web in a variety of ways. Websites for primary learners and teachers offer a range of Internet-based educational services, such as discussion groups, and curriculum resources to download and use in the classroom. Many are dedicated to particular subject areas such as The Globe Programme (environment), The Wild Ones (conservation), TERC (mathematics and science). There are also examples of website design projects in which children themselves create resources to use and show, (e.g. DRIK Picture Library, Bangladesh).

A variety of on-line resources and courses have been developed that target adolescents in school, at the top end of the primary cycle or in junior secondary school. Some are ready-made materials which are posted on websites for downloading. Others involve opportunities for dialogue and collaboration between geographically separated learners in different teacher-learner and learner-learner combinations. The latter are referred to in a variety of ways - global classrooms, learning networks, virtual communities, email classrooms. There are also examples of dedicated websites for in and out of school youth. UNICEF's Voices of Youth ( ) offers a global email discussion and opportunities for collaborative projects.

It is sometimes possible to provide access to the Internet indirectly. The Kothmale Community Radio in Sir Lanka, for example, uses radio as a gateway to the Internet for its rural listeners. Listeners, including primary school children and teachers, send requests (by post or on foot) to the broadcasters for specific information, about particular subjects. The broadcasters search for this on the Internet, download it and make the information available to their audience in a range of ways: constructing a broadcast around the information, sending the information by post, placing the information in the radio station, open-access resource centre. (In the particular case of Kothmale radio, the station also operates as a community centre with a cybercafe offering free access to the Internet). This mediated access has several advantages: it can make the Internet's information resources available to rural and under-served communities; community re-broadcasting can relay the information in local languages as opposed, for example, to the dominant English language of the Internet; the information can be pre-sifted, culturally mediated and presented to the audience in ways that are appropriate to local social practices.

A different example of this mediated access is the growth of adopt-a-school projects. Schools, companies and individuals with Internet connections adopt under-resourced and unconnected primary schools in poor countries and solicit resources and funds on their behalf by setting up a dedicated website, with photos and needs-lists. Examples include adopt-a-rural-library schemes and, where language permits, send-a-comic, and send-a-book campaigns.


One burgeoning use of the Internet is school linking - sometimes known as twinning - which involves the establishment of long- or short-term Internet links between individual schools for the purpose of communication between pupils, teachers, head teachers, managers and carers. Linking is occurring at regional, national and international levels in north-north, south-south, north-south configurations. At the moment, most linking occurs at secondary and junior secondary level but as computer provision is increasingly taken up at a primary level, links are beginning to be established between primary schools.

Table 4.1 illustrates some of the ways in which schools have been linked through the Internet.

For pupils, school linking opens up innovative and enriching learning possibilities - new learning communities, classroom pen-pals, information-sharing skills, resource exchange and development, collaborative writing and web-page development projects, global virtual classrooms. The global context can act as a powerful site for the 'recognition of, and support for, cultural difference' and for the assertion or protection of differences on the part of both parties in the exchange (Giddens, 1990 7). In this, school linking appears to hold particular significance amongst minority and isolated communities such as setting up links within the Jewish Diaspora, between Afro-Americans and Africans, or among isolated Inuit and Native American communities.

There appears to be considerable potential for expanding school linking in its different forms and particularly in promoting south-south links. They seem to be a successful way of building on and consolidating established links. The National Schools Network in South Africa, for example, was an extension of successful regional schools networks - a school-driven, grassroots networking organisation.


The Internet provides schools with the opportunity to offer more open learning opportunities through virtual courses. Virtual school projects, for example, commonly offer a range of Internet-based courses at junior secondary level but differ in their scale, structure and purpose. In some cases the virtual technologies are making it possible for schools to teach both on and off the school premises, replicating the mode of teaching of dual-mode institutions at tertiary level. Some allow students to study some courses on a face-to-face basis and others on an open-learning basis. Electronic materials can in some cases be slotted into a face-to-face course as an additional resource. In other cases a full school programme is provided on either a face-to-face basis or on a distance-education basis for out-of-school learners, but both under the supervision of the school. In a third model, some schools have begun to offer on-line private tuition for home-based education, outside regular school provision and with the aid of parents. In practice the distinctions can become blurred; for example, when schools attempt to capitalise on virtual courses used in school by also offering them on a commercial basis to other learners.

Participation in some virtual projects provides schools with the means of extending their range of available courses without the need to expand enrolment or recruit specialist teaching staff. They are particularly useful as a means for increasing the access to a broader range of specialist subject courses in small and remote communities and without the need for learners to leave their home community. In some cases, groups of schools have worked together in this way in order to share their resources.

The Virtual High School (VHS), for example, is a recent co-operative venture between 35 high schools from 12 states in North America in which they pool on-line courses and teaching-time. During the 1998-99 academic year, the schools offered 40 NetCourses to students in the schools. Courses include computer programming, music appreciation and composition, microbiology, stellar astronomy and statistics. VHS teachers complete a graduate-level NetCourse to table 4.1 learn how to develop and deliver courses over the Internet with a view to them offering and hosting new courses. In exchange for teaching a NetCourse, schools can enrol students in any NetCourse being offered by other participating schools. In terms of technology, VHS uses 'interactive databases that teachers use to design their NetCourses' - ( with students accessing 'their VHS NetCourses using graphical web browsers like Netscape navigator or Microsoft Explorer'.

Another approach is to enable a central agency to develop materials for a group of schools. During 1995-96, the New Direction in Distance learning (NDDL) project of the Open Learning Agency's School Programme in the Canadian province of British Columbia delivered interactive instructional courses in mathematics, science, languages, humanities and applied skills to thirty-five learning sites, mostly in small high schools. The project was used to increase access to educational programmes in small and remote communities but also to provide access to distributed learning models for urban schools and their students. Others were located in community learning centres so that the programme could also have implications for out-of-school adolescents.

By using a variety of network-based and more traditional distance-education tools, each course involves learners in both independent and group learning activities. Electronic communication occurs between geographically separated learners in using a range of technologies including computer conferencing, audiographic conferencing and web-based delivery. The choice of technology was influenced by the subject matter of the lesson.

For mathematics, NDDL uses application-sharing whiteboards to teach mathematics when it is important for students to be able to see the instructor manipulate equations in real-time using hand-written figures and mathematical symbols. A whiteboard is an electronic screen that resembles the classroom whiteboard. Learners at any site can see on their screen what someone at another site writes, and they can also write on, change and augment what has been written by others, hence the shared application feature. NDDL learners use small scanner (Visioneer Paperport) to digitise their homework assignments, then they attach file to e-mail, which is send to the instructor. The instructor uses graphic software to annotate and correct the assignments, which are then returned via e-mail to the learners, eliminating the expense and bother of paper transportation.

(Haughey and Anderson 1998: 56)

A total of 450 students completed courses during 1995-6. The programme was jointly funded by British Columbia Ministry of Education and the participating schools. In 1996-97, the fees were $1,000 per school district and $500 per NDDL school or community site. In addition, participating schools, parents or communities were expected to pay a tuition fee of $375 per student per course.

The schools must also provide all the communications tools for student use. These include a local area network (LAN) connected to the Internet, graphics tablets, audio-teleconferencing equipment and various network and stand-alone software. Schools must also assign a site-based facilitator (either a teacher or paraprofessional) for one eighth of a full-time position for each 25 students enrolled. NDDL supports teachers with a 3-day in-service course before commencing teaching duties and is currently digitising this training programme using videos and CD-ROM technologies so that new instructors, facilitators and learners can take initial training at their convenience any time of the year. (ibid: 58)

The programme also supports students in job-seeking by providing on-line career counselling, job and work experience databases in the environmental and entrepreneurial fields.


The evidence available so far leads to three conclusions. First, computers have been introduced to enhance conventional teaching, not replace it so that their costs are additional to existing educational costs. The last example quoted illustrates both the need to work on an adequate scale in order to justify software development and that the costs for sophisticated applications and materials development are likely to be higher than many schools can afford. Second, many projects have under-estimated the costs of curriculum development and teacher training. These are likely to amount to around 50 per cent of the total costs of computer-related education. Third, differential access to computers within countries, let alone between countries, looks likely to remain. It presents the challenge that significant investment will be needed to overcome the differential but that there are significant opportunity costs in making that investment.

4.1.2 Educational technologies in the classroom

Within schools in high-income countries, a range of educational technologies are taken for granted - audio and videocassette equipment, hand-held still and video cameras, overhead projectors, and calculators. These either belong to the school or are on loan from different sources: libraries, local or national educational institutions. Multi-media teaching is encouraged not only by the availability of the technologies, but also by its inclusion within teacher training courses and by the availability of professional support. In many low- and middle-income countries, by contrast, the dearth of educational technologies is matched by minimal, if any, corresponding teacher training.

International experience makes possible three generalisations. First, where teachers and managers have developed an understanding of multi-media and multi-channel teaching within their own training, they are more likely to adopt innovative ways of securing and using them. Second, planned strategies are required to increase access to educational technologies in schools, particularly low-tech, multi-media resources. Strategies might include government or donor-funded donation initiatives, mobile units, loan systems from libraries and audio-visual resource centres. National and regional audio-visual centres and broadcasting stations in particular emerge as key drivers for producing and introducing audio-visual resources within basic education. Third, we need to understand that infrequent use of technologies within schools may not reflect a lack of training but may be because teachers see little pedagogical value in using them, an area which techno-enthusiasts overlook.

4.1.3 Broadcasting

In section 3.5 we made a distinction between three main types of broadcasting used for primary and junior secondary school children - direct teaching, school broadcasting designed as enrichment, and general children's programming. In practice, as we have seen, there can be a blurring of edges between them. Together, however, they can create a loose but formidable mosaic of learning opportunities for this group of learners.

Interactive radio is the best documented. It has been pioneered and developed mainly by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from the 1970s up to the present day in over twenty Latin American, African and Asian countries. Some of the experience is set out in table 4.2. These are mostly individual country projects but some operate at the inter-country level such as in the five African countries with Portuguese as an official language (PALOP). With assistance from UNESCO, the Netherlands government and USAID these countries are involved, in the joint development of IRI curriculum materials in Mathematics and Portuguese as a second language.

During the twenty-five years of IRI projects, a significant research base has grown (e.g. Moulton 1994; Dock and Helwig, 1999) out of project evaluations and these can help us gain insight into conditions for success and sustainability for radio teaching projects. (One caution, however, is that most of the evaluations are in-house and there has been little outside critical analysis of IRI.) As already noted, there is consistent evidence of learning gains among children who have followed IRI lessons.

But some problems remain. One is that of scale and cost. The achievements of interactive radio have to be set against the relatively high cost of the curriculum development on which they are based. In a significant number of cases, IRI has proved not to be sustainable beyond a pilot stage because ministries of education could not meet the costs. Operation at a pilot scale is likely to keep unit costs relatively high. There may be conflict between the demands of scale - seeking to maximise audience and keep materials in use as long as possible - and the needs to be responsive to local needs and shifting needs in learning. Materials with long-production lead times (and from the cost point of view a long shelf-life) cannot easily be responsive in these ways. Then, broadcasting is particularly susceptible to the promise that all that is lacking in an impoverished and limited educational system is an adequate means for depositing ready-made education; that adaptations of projects from one culture to another are straightforward. In practice IRI cannot be expected - nor was designed - to transform educational systems.

Successive evaluations of educational broadcasting generally show that it is likely to succeed if it grows out of prevailing pedagogical practices and community, professional and national networks through a process of continuous research and dialogue. IRI is therefore likely to have limited success if it is seen as being imposed externally. In South Africa, for example, the original plans for an IRI project were rejected on grounds that their apparently behaviourist pedagogy was dangerously close to prescriptive, teacher-centred aspects of apartheid education. Only when it was reshaped on constructivist premises was it acceptable. IRI continues to be faced by a concern that it may reduce, even usurp, a teacher's control and responsibilities. In addressing that concern, too, it needs to explore how to broaden the concept of interactivity away from a simulated conversation and overcome the top-down, one-way nature of radio.

During the 1990's IRI has developed initiatives in heath education and early childhood development which attempt to answer some of these questions. Using a 'decentralised implementation methodology ' preventive health and education programmes are marketed and disseminated on cassette to local radios and local municipalities and, through decentralised training, adapted culturally for different language groups. However, this sort of decentralised system involves higher costs, is more time-consuming and labour intensive.

While we have much less documentation on other uses of radio, there is some evidence that fills out this picture of radio's strength and weakness in formal education. Flavell and Micallef (1995), for example, working in Mozambique attempted to measure the relative effectiveness of a radio-only approach and a radio plus approach (teaching materials and teaching assistance) in terms of improvement in English language skills among students at a secondary level. Following large-scale longitudinal sampling over a nine-month period in seven table 4.2 Mozambican state schools, they concluded that general exposure to radio is beneficial but markedly so when radio is used in conjunction with good quality local print materials and where local teachers are well trained in the use of radio and audio-cassettes in class. Used in this more integrated way, radio can be exploited in a far greater range of educational strategies and with greater effect than a radio-only approach. Studies from the BBC English project, called Radio English Direct, which is taking place in a number of African countries, are also likely to prove useful. Radio programmes and materials are being developed within particular countries which reflect teachers' and students' concerns and existing educational conditions and curricula. Part of the project has been the development of a radio awareness element within the teacher-training curriculum. More studies are required to measure the effectiveness of radio in formal education.

An innovative new direction in schools broadcasting is child- or teacher- initiated schools broadcasting at the local level. As already mentioned (4.1.1), the Kothmale radio station in Sri Lanka serves remote rural communities and receives from children or their teachers' requests for further information about school topics for which no local resources exist. The producers search the Internet for resources, download them and then construct programmes around the information or release it in printed form back to the school or at the station' public access centre. This directly responsive relationship between school and broadcasters overcomes to a large degree, the one-way, top-down nature of much broadcasting and perhaps points to a future area of development.

As previously mentioned (3.5.3), there are also examples of television schools broadcasting based, as in rich countries, within large broadcasting corporations and as part of television channels (BBC Education Radio TV, NHK Japanese Broadcasting Corporation, UK's Channel Four Educational Broadcasting). In developing countries these tend to the product of the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Information or Curriculum Development Centres.

We distinguished above between formal and nonformal children's programming (3.5.3). International experience provides a number of examples of projects that use a nonformal approach and may allow use either in school or outside. Some programmes are designed with the content of the school curriculum in mind. Colombia's Ricon del Cuento programme, for example, is a 47-part television series for 4-8 year olds, designed to promote a love of reading. It has been broadcast on public television and also distributed to 1500 schools in Colombia on cassettes. The British Broadcasting Corporation hugely successful factual documentary, Walking with Dinosaurs, is broadcast at peak family viewing times in the evenings but has generated a range of learning resources in and out of school such as books bought commercially, and on-line resources for teachers and young learners. In South Africa, in a move further away from the conventional curriculum, the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation produce Lifeskills print packages for schools which are based on the characters and stories in its prime time Soul City television and radio series, produced in nine languages. These schools' activities are just one element within a broader campaign which creates a whole mosaic of educational opportunities that are mutually reinforcing.

There has also been a growth in children-driven or child-centred programmes. This trend is a particularly noticeable in programmes with a conflict-resolution curriculum. Examples include the Children in Conflict radio programmes (with ten series in nine languages produced by the BBC World Service) which centre on interviews with children in war-torn parts of the world. A national level example is children's television in Macedonia - a drama series for 8-12 year olds following the lives of five children, - two Macedonian, one Albanian, one Turk and one Gypsy.

The evidence suggests that there is a renaissance in the use of radio and television broadcasting as teaching tools for both formal and non-formal purposes. The widespread ownership of both makes this an obvious development. At present there is more emphasis on radio in developing countries but some are arguing that television for learning will become a foremost tool in the 21st century.

A critical mass of TV viable countries now exists for educational purposes, to justify unprecedented levels of international co-ordination in such areas as experience exchange, training, resource development, and national and regional capacity building.

(Palmer 1999: 1)


Expansion of secondary schooling is constrained by a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly in rural areas, and a shortage of school buildings. Inevitably, secondary experience has lagged behind primary. Coverage in urban areas is much higher than elsewhere but still remains insufficient while adolescents in low-density rural areas present a particular problem - schooling is often unfeasible due to low student numbers, and the difficulty of attracting and retaining teachers, the difficulty of offering a range of specialist courses. Gender, ethnic background, class and caste, as well as location, affect children's chances of getting to secondary school.

Various technology-enhanced initiatives have been used to address needs of the out-of-school children and adolsecents. These can be grouped into three categories: first, those that offer direct teaching in alternative secondary systems; second, smaller-scale, non-formal, outreach learning opportunities; third, resource-based self-access learning opportunities.

4.2.1 Alternative secondary systems

Within this category we can find a range of technology-enhanced course-based alternatives to the regular secondary system - computer-based teaching, television-based direct teaching, radio-based distance education and the open school movement.

In rich countries computer-based virtual classrooms have been developed for out-of-school adolescents. The majority of these, as we have seen earlier, are focused upon individual subject areas and used by in-school learners as additional resources. The John D. Bracco School in Alberta, Canada has taken this a step further and is operating as a dual-mode school: in parallel to its mainstream schooling curriculum, it offers a full alternative junior high school programme - LearnNet - for adolescents in remote areas or parents who wish to educate their children at home. LearnNet gives guidance from professional educators to home-schooled students and their parents through a computer conferencing system, although students may occasionally come to the school to socialise, meet their teachers and attend classes. The Rocky View Virtual School offered a full course load to over 185 students in grades 9-12 in 1998-1999 and will be expanding to include grades 7 and 8 in 1999-2000. Course are offered in a wide range of courses in three different streams - the academic route required for university entrance, the non-academic route required for college entrance and the lower academic rout for students looking towards an apprenticeship after graduation.

Television-based schools are exemplified by Mexico's Telesecundaria programme which has been providing direct television teaching to increasing numbers of rurally based learners. Centrally produced television programmes covering the same secondary school curriculum offered in ordinary schools, are beamed via satellite throughout the country on a scheduled daily basis to Telesecundaria schools in two shifts (8.00am to 2.00pm and 2.00pm to 8.00pm). Each hour focuses on a different subject area and typically follows the same routine - 15 minutes of television, switch-off and then book-led and teacher-led activities. Different levels in the same subject are staggered to begin at exactly the point at which the preceding level switches off. The child is exposed to a variety of teachers on television but has one home teacher at the school for all disciplines in each grade. 60% of Telesecundaria teachers are fully qualified while 40% are university graduates with no previous teacher training. They receive induction training and then follow-up in-service training through televised programmes broadcast in the afternoons or on Saturdays.

Following the introduction of satellite transmission, the numbers of learners grew from 512 700 in 1993 to 817 200 by the end of 1997-98 and within a projected enrolment of 1 100 000 by 2004. By the end of 1997-98 there were 13 054 school and 38 698 teachers (Castro et al 1999: 29). In terms of effectiveness, Telesecundaria is encouraging: dropout rates are slightly lower than those of general secondary school and significantly better than technical schools. Interim achievement rates show that students 'start significantly behind other students but catch up completely in math and cut the deficit in half in language' (ibid.: 32). Costs include teaching and administrative costs, physical facilities, televised programmes and books and while they are more expensive that urban secondary schools they are lower than what would be required to establish a general secondary school in a rural area. '60 students would require 12 teachers, for a 5:1 ratio, as well as a full laboratory and administrative personnel' (ibid.: 31).

Its success is attributed to a variety of factors: it brought schooling to areas where there had been none before rather than replacing existing schools; it attracts committed teachers who have elected to live in rural areas; over 30 years, the programmes have evolved from talking-head format to a more varied and contextualised teaching style involving more participants. Perhaps most important is its perceived status and the esteem for the producers. 'It constitutes one of the very few programs in which the poor receive a better-conceived and better-managed program than urban middle and upper socio-economic classes' (ibid.: 32).

Difficulties include persuading teachers to remain in rural areas, high costs of replacement books and theft or maintenance problems with antennas, the costs of replacing long shelf-life programmes with those with more principled pedagogy, and the rigidity of scheduling. In terms of the last, there are plans to switch to an Internet based system which would give the teachers and learners the flexibility to view programmes at convenient times.

Radio-based distance education has also been used for basic education. Radio has advantages over television, in terms of access as well as cost, for countries with a low density of population. Mongolia provides an example. The change to an open market economy created new challenges for the Mongolian education system to cater for new demands of basic education, retraining, continuing education and literacy training for both young people and adults. With over a third of the population living a nomadic life with an economy based on animal husbandry, radio-centred distance education has become widely used in Mongolia for this and other levels. Learning for Life, a UNESCO and Mongolian government programme launched in 1997, is to target marginalised youth throughout the country over a four-year period. This amounts to 37 000 selected families who, through radio programmes, self-learning booklets, learning centres, teacher training sessions, acquire competencies in micro-enterprises and marketing.

Open Schools represent a different approach to out of school education. In response to an unmet demand for places at secondary level, the central governments of India, Indonesia and South Korea have created alternative systems for young learners unable to get into mainstream schools. This Asian model of open schools, though differing in certain particulars, is distinctive because it retains close connections with the regular secondary school system. Students learn from self-instructional materials used in conjunction with different combinations of low-tech cassettes and broadcasts and differing types of student's support.

The National Open School, India oversees the development of self-instructional print and sometimes audiocassette materials by other educational institutions including mainstream schools, the National Council for Educational Research and Training and the Indira Gandhi National Open University. They offer four different types of programmes in English and Hindi: secondary, senior-secondary (10-12th grade), bridge courses (around grade 8) and vocational courses (free-standing or combined with academic courses):

a student in the secondary level can choose home science and business studies, in addition to mathematics, science, English, social studies, or bakery and confectionery. At the senior-secondary level, a student may choose subjects, such as political science, chemistry, or furniture and cabinet making

(Mukhopadhyay 1995: 94)

There are no formal entry requirements for the programmes (except at senior-secondary level) and the range of courses and the freedom to select is often better than in many schools. The courses are distributed to students who attend classes or Personal Contact Programmes at study centres generally within a regular school. Gaba (1997: 46) reported that in 1997, there were about 670 study centres through India, that 50-70 per cent attended study centres and for about 30 days during their programme of study. Enrolment at the National Open School grew from 34 800 in 1991-2 to 130 000 in 1998-9 with 61 per cent of students following secondary and 37 per cent senior-secondary courses. When compared to the 64 million in formal secondary school, this enrolment seems insubstantial. Nevertheless, the chairman, speaking in 1995, predicted that open-school methods would be used to reach 40 million students in sixteen languages within ten years. The Open School's income is derived from student fees and the sale of books and materials. In 1997-8 male secondary students paid 800 rupees ($22) and female 600 rupees ($17) for five classes. Reduced fees are charged to handicapped students, ex-serviceman and members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The cost per student is 637 rupees ($44) as compared with a cost of 1019 rupees ($71) for regular schools.

The Open Junior High Schools in Indonesia have similar objectives of serving the disadvantaged, who are economically and educationally deprived. The open school system was developed in 1984 alongside the expansion of regular secondary school and is considered part of it as the children follow the same curriculum and examinations and attend open-school centres often attached to regular schools or in a community building near their home. Centrally produced self-instructional materials are designed to promote individual learning. These are also backed up by twice-daily radio and television broadcasts and local student and teacher support groups: the students meet for three hours daily, four to five times a week. Untrained local teachers' aides are available at meetings (and mark students' assignments) and the students attend a weekly three-hour session with subject specialists at the base school. This provides 15-18 hours of supervised study per week contrasted with the 27 contact hours in regular schools. In 1995 the open schools and others developed along similar lines were available in fifty-nine provinces throughout the country with a total of about 50 000 students. By 1996-7 there were 172 000 students in 956 locations with plans to expand to 410 500 students in 3270 locations by the end of the decade (Sadiman and Rahardjo 1997: 287) although the Asian financial crisis intervened in the meantime.

South Korea has established a system of Air and Correspondence High schools similar to Indonesia. Centrally produced self-instructional materials, designed around the first three years of high school, are distributed to the students once a month. These are used in combination with daily radio lessons (early in the morning and late in the evening) and attendance at the linked secondary school on alternate Sundays. This amounts to 1224 study hours a year. In comparison to the 3.6 million in regular high school, 35 300 students (aged between 18 and 24) studied in this manner in 1992. 82 per cent of them also held down jobs at the same time. Examination pass rates were above 80 per cent while the drop out rate has been in the range of 40 to 48 per cent.

In a variant of the open school system Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe all developed study centre programmes which served as substitutes for secondary schools. Buildings were provided -or shared - where young people could follow correspondence lessons, some backed up with radio broadcasts and with some help from a tutor supervisor. The schemes always suffered from being seen as a second-rate alternative to regular schooling, by both parents and teachers. In both Malawi and Zambia a government distance-teaching institution produced learning materials for use in the centres. Both institutions suffered from, at best, benign neglect to that the impoverished system did not even work to the best of its capacity. Despite the difficulties, the centres did appear to be achieving results, in terms of junior secondary passes, at modest costs that compared tolerably well with those of the conventional system. But the perceived weaknesses of the systems mean that they appear to be in a state of decline. Malawi, for example, has decided to transform its centres into community schools, even at the risk, in the short run, of providing the centres with less in the way of open-learning materials.

4.2.2 Community based approaches

Communication technologies have been used, particularly in industrialised countries, within the framework of community projects for young people. These have often been addressed to adolescents who are out of school and disaffected from it. Mobile units, sometimes bringing videos and films but increasingly offering access to the Internet, have been used for this purpose and have sometimes become a permanent and integral part of a national library system. Programmes of this kind allow access to self-study materials in a range of forms including print, cassettes, educational computer software and materials on the Internet. They may bring a double benefit, enabling those using them to widen their education generally while acquiring some computer skills.

Programmes that rely on advanced technologies in this way demand facilities seldom available within developing countries. The development of telecentres (3.4.2) may, however, open some opportunities for similar programmes. There is, however, one further problem that inhibits the development of effective programmes - a dearth of self-study materials. Often there is little, either specific to a national context or of general relevance. There is a particular need for materials which are geared to prevailing technological constraints and which can be used on a flexible basis - low tech combinations of print, audio and video cassettes - but also keep in mind the potential application of more advanced technologies. UNESCO's Learning in Portuguese project aimed at the PALOP African countries - Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Principe provides one example of a project that attempts to do this. Learners can use the computer-based package - CD-ROM, user's manual, teachers' notes and Internet-like pages included within the CD-ROM (and at the same time learn Internet skills without the expense of Internet connectivity).

4.2.3 Mass media health campaigning

Mass media have been used, sometimes in a campaign approach, to meet educational needs outside the formal curriculum. Health programmes offer a variety of examples, many of them concerned with the prevention of HIV/AIDS. The majority of health advocacy projects are large-scale, popular-culture, health advocacy campaigns targeted at adolescents, in or out-of-school. These use a range of media - film, radio, television and cassettes in a variety of formats - documentary, soap, music, talk shows. Different fulcrum interventions are used depending on the sexual mores of individual countries. Some are sophisticated campaigns which use popular-culture radio and television broadcasts, at a national or community level, and organise a range of well-planned and often synchronised outreach activities around them in a variety of community domains. Where sexual matters are considered taboo in the public domain and where there is no formal sex education in schools, many of the campaigns are targeted directly to youth out of school and are based around informal peer support networks. Others are intergenerational projects or ones that reach youth as a secondary target group. Health education broadcasts have been developed and produced both by in-country broadcasters, often in partnerships with NGOs and donor partners, and by international broadcasters such as the BBC World Service. Its Sexwise project, for example, focused on sexual and reproductive health in Asia; it included nine radio series with more than 130 programmes overall which were tailored to the needs of the countries where they were used. The programmes were translated into nine different languages.

Some initiatives have sought to use communication technology to support peer education or youth-to-youth education. This is intended to provide a communication framework to enable young people to address issues where their culture does not allow these to be discussed at home or within formal education. One recent high-tech example was a video-conferencing experiment linking Australian medical students with Soweto high-school students in South Africa for a discussion about HIV and AIDs prevention. This youth-to-youth networking illustrated to the medical students the culturally embedded nature of health issues. For example, during the exchange it became apparent that sex education was virtually non-existent for the South African participants, either at home or at school and that the use of impersonal communications technology - such as the Internet where it is available to the audience concerned - would be a valuable way to learn about HIV prevention (

Table 4.3 gives some examples of various approaches. It illustrates the range of approaches and the potential for expanding education for adolescents in a, literally, vital area.


In both developing and industrialised countries there are some groups of children and adolescents whose educational needs are not being met by the conventional educational system. Within this group are young learners who are in danger of being marginalised because they live in difficult or remote circumstances or because their parents are occupational travellers. The most severely deprived groups are likely to be refugees, displaced war children, and street children. Within many communities some children may seek supplementary, or even separate education for ethnic, linguistic or cultural reasons In principal, technologies may be of help in providing educational opportunities where specialised teachers and resources are scarce. (Programmes for children with special educational needs are the topic of a separate thematic study.)

4.3.1 Computers

Different marginalised and minority groups have found that computers and digital communication networks can enable them to retain, assert and develop their cultural traditions. The Internet, specialist software and CD-ROMs are increasingly used in rich country contexts and in a range of different educational settings, including supplementary schooling for refugees, Hebrew and Muslim special schools, schools in remote areas and community centres. The Internet is typically used to establish new national or international learning networks between groups of children in school- or community centres. Examples include Inuit schools in the Northwest Territories of the Arctic and Jewish schools throughout the diaspora. It is also used, by children or their teachers, to access new or specialist learning resources. The latter are frequently posted on dedicated websites which provide information, contacts, educational advice and ready-made materials for particular minority or marginalised groups. Examples include the WEB DuBois Center for Afro-Americans, the Artemis Gypsy and Traveller Education Database, The Kids' Hospital Network, the Efecot and Pavee Point websites for travellers, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees website. Other projects are feeding into the creation of appropriate content: some fund the digitisation of ethnic minority literature while others, like one initiated by the government of Tamil Nadu, promote keyboard standardisation and software interfaces in different languages, such as Tamil.

Software for language development is a particular growth area. The Socrates Me Too programme, for example, is a collaboration between 12 European organisations and is developing customised language teaching software in first and second languages for minority ethnic pupils (so far offering material in Italian, Chinese and Arabic) and websites to support school and community centres.

Providing education for travellers' children has produced innovative uses of technology. In the USA, for example, the Department of Education is providing some secondary-level learners with laptop computers that enable them to study online courses provided by a private education company. The FLEX project, involving 23 European-wide partners and with a budget of some 1.5 million euros (about $1 530 000), is exploring way of using the latest technologies to improve the education of travelling children (e.g. circus, fairground and bargee children). Travelling children are provided with laptop computers, CD-ROM learning resources, GSM modem and a digital video-broadcast receiver. The schools-based teacher sends messages and structured 'learning blocks' via a video-mail message. The child communicates with a remote tutor by leaving voice mail messages on the FLEX website. Another European project, TOPILOT, combines learning resources on a CD-I (interactive Compact Disc) and other print-based materials with cheap narrow-band mobile data-communication (via GSM). The tutor can monitor their learners' progress through the CD-I material from a distance.

The examples here all concern marginalised children in rich countries. They have had to overcome the problems of geographical or cultural remoteness within a single country: even within national boundaries there can be differences between the information rich and the information poor. Remote communities are likely to have lower quality and less reliable communication links, sometimes at higher costs than those in urban centres. table 4.3

4.3.2 Broadcasting and distance education

Radio plays a central role in bringing both formal and non-formal educational opportunities to marginalised communities. In formal distance education, there is a long established tradition of radio-led courses for children in farming communities, including, for example, the School of the Air in the Australian outback and the Government Primary Correspondence School in Zimbabwe. The School of the Air is also beginning to integrate the Internet into the course. Over the course of two years, for example, the University of Ballarat is arranging Internet connection for 1200 families so that they can have access to learning materials for remote children. OLSET in South Africa is providing radio-led IRI education courses (in English language, and mathematics) to remote under-resourced schools of South Africa. This has in some cases been made possible by the use of Baygen wind-up and solar powered radios.

Radio has also been particularly useful as a means for extending education to home-based girls. It has made possible distance-education programmes for ethnic minority girls in the mountainous regions of Laos and has been used to reach travellers including, for example, the children of migrant fishermen in Nigeria. There is also a long tradition of developing radio education for refugees and to refugees living in camps. Afghanistan provided a current example.

Broadcasting - radio in particular - is also widely recognised as the prime means of fast-response communication in regions of conflict and is used extensively to provide non-formal educational programmes for children (often in programmes targeted to the whole family). The type of programmes vary. Some are designed to raise awareness of hazards: land mines and cholera for example. Others aimed at children are designed to be therapeutic, often involving music therapy. Radio Kwizera in Tanzania, for example, brings Rwandan refugees 40 hours of broadcasts a week in a range of languages in general health education, sanitation and children's issues. For their part, international radio broadcasters play a significant role in bringing multilingual information and music programmes to war-torn areas and displaced communities and in some cases make specifically educational programmes. At a cost of US$650 000 per year, the BBC Afghan Education Drama Project, for example, has since 1993 broadcast health education and mines awareness education. Broadcasts three times a week use a soap opera format and are either beamed directly from the international broadcaster or made available for re-broadcasting by other radio stations.

Underpinning these projects are radio donation schemes and school-in-a-box emergency packs. War Child, for example, is currently testing the validity of Baygen wind-up radios as a communication aid for families in isolated and worn-torn communities and if effective will consider funding large-scale radio distribution projects in war-torn countries. Teachers' emergency packs are also deployed containing basic teaching equipment for children and teachers (textbooks, teacher's manual, pens, pencils) and sometimes radios and audiocassettes.

Radio and television broadcasting are also enlisted to promote wider aims of conflict-resolution. The British Department for International Development, for example, funds children's television series in Macedonia that seeks to encourage understanding and the non-violent resolution of disputes.

Some distance-education programmes, of the kind discussed above have developed programmes or approaches specifically for marginalised young people. The Indian National Open School, for example, has, been seeking to extend its basic education programme to vulnerable groups such as rural and tribal women, school dropouts, working children and drug addicts. This has included the development of new curricula and outreach work.

4.3.3 Outreach activities

Outreach educational activities are often the only means to reach young learners in some marginalised communities. Most are small-scale face-to-face teaching projects but some use different forms of technology. In war-torn areas, there are examples of mobile creative therapy units equipped with art and music therapy resources. The War Child Netherlands project in Albania brings music tapes, CD's and musical equipment to Albanian refugee children. The War Child Visual Impact project operating in the Western Sahara, Liberia, Kenya, Azerbaijan and Georgia brings art therapy to young refugees. Children, often recently orphaned, present their stories via single-use cameras that are then exhibited. War Child also produces music therapy resources donated and delivered to youth and social centres and orphanages.

Community resource centres, either permanent or mobile, play a key role in providing educational support for street children and drug abuser children in a variety of countries. In New York, for example, the Covenant House Community Resource Centers, established in 1993, offer support and educational resources to adolescents in crisis situations. In Mexico, the Juconi Foundation uses audiocassettes to support the face-to-face teaching of street living, street working and market children. Training videos in crafts such as woodwork and metal work are presented to marginalised street youth through mobile projection units (in Port au Prince, Haiti) or youth centres (Ciresari Centre, Romania).


Programmes for adults include both equivalence programmes offering a second chance of getting formal educational qualifications (discussed in 4.2.1) and nonformal education, with a different kind of curriculum from schooling. Nonformal education is often poorly documented, under-researched and frequently neglected. It caters for a range of mainly poor, disadvantaged and marginalised adults with little or no past formal education. In developing countries, this includes farmers, remote communities and adults with limited literacy skills.

After Jomtien, schooling has continued to attract more attention and investment than adult basic education. Some have suggested that it got short-changed in the 'resulting dispersion of responsibilities for basic education' among governments, donor agencies, NGOs, the media and business (Limage, 1999 :76; UNESCO 1996; Lakin et al. 1997). It is an area that attracts debate about the ethical and economic case for significant public expenditure and involvement. Jones (in Lakin et al: 31) is quoted as arguing that there is a solid economic case for investment in adult basic education. Wagner, however, found little evidence of economic benefit from literacy programmes (ibid: 34) while earlier reviews found that the cost per successful student of adult literacy programmes was far greater than the cost of making a child literate through conventional primary education (cf. Perraton et al. 1983). Ministries of education have reflected one side of the debate with the lion's share of budgets going to provide basic education to children rather than to adults. The piecemeal nature of many nonformal projects, the shortage of evaluative data, and the long shadow cast by failed projects have made it easy for governments to ignore the demands of adult basic education. Unlike primary education for children, there has always been a need to justify expenditure on adult education. Only rarely has there been a strongly stated political case for expenditure or economic evidence to back it.

can identify two trends within adult basic education over the last decade that bear on its use of technologies. The first is a renaissance in the use of radio - national, local and community - and its increased use in nonformal education. The second is a new emphasis on a participatory methodology. Projects run by the British charity ActionAid, for example, are founded on a carefully constructed methodology known as REFLECT (Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques). This draws on, among others, participatory rural approaches (Chambers 1983, 1993), Freirean critical approaches to education (1972) and views of literacy as social practice (Street 1993).

Both these developments have encouraged the use of outreach communication strategies. Community radio programming is often based on recordings and requests gathered in outreach work. In REFLECT projects, technologies are not necessarily built into a project plan but may emerge as a project is developed in consultation with participants. Where this does occur, it is more likely to include simple technology such as audio- and video-recorders in the hands of learners themselves and work with local radio broadcasters.

There is a wide range of projects: some are for individualised learning, others for group situations; some concentrate on discrete areas such as health or agriculture while others take a more integrated approach to the everyday needs of learners. Again, we are short of evaluative data.

4.4.1 Information and communication technologies

A handful of projects in low- and middle-income developing countries have begun to explore the use of communication technologies to widen access to learning and information. The Kothmale Internet Community Radio project in Sri Lanka, discussed previously in 4.1.1 in relation to school children, has mainly been used for adults, enabling rural communities to seek information from the Internet. Community radio broadcasters respond to requests from listeners for particular information which they search for on the Internet and then broadcast back in suitable form and language to their listeners in a daily two-hour radio programme. The radio station functions as a community resource centre, providing free community Internet access (at the station and two other community libraries) and as a community library with computer database, CD-ROMs, downloaded literature and print materials. Opened in 1999, the costs of the project will be covered by the government for two years after which the US$1 000 per month will become the responsibility of the radio station.

The Grameen Telecom project in rural Bangladesh is one of a range of projects in developing countries with the aim of achieving telephone and Internet connectivity to rural communities. Women in villages are offered loans by the Grameen Bank (located in every Bangladeshi village) to buy cellular phones ($385) which they can then rent out to other villagers on a commercial basis. The owners repay the loan at $4.60 per week from income generated from rental (one cited example was $2.10 per day (www/ use of the telephone is seen as a way of stimulating growth and development in villages while providing incidental learning opportunities to learners.

Other telephone projects include Inmarsat pilot projects with solar panel, battery-powered satellite community payphones. They are taking place in rural and remote locations in Africa, Latin America, South-East Asia, China and the Pacific Rim countries. There are also a variety of Village Internet projects such as the Wirana Wired Village Project in India and the Village Internet at El Limón in rural Dominican Republic.

The Internet connection will be used to improve education (which currently ends with third grade), support adult literacy and agricultural extension services.. A direct communication with news sources, government, and eventually other rural communities, will encourage participation in the civil process, and help secure the resources for ongoing development.


Similarly, the development of multipurpose community telecentres will also facilitate telephone and Internet connectivity. Pilots, generally with UN funding, exist in Benin, Bhutan, Honduras, India, Mali, Surinam, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Vietnam, South Africa, Ghana, Philippines, Egypt and Trinidad.

In industrialised countries, adult literacy programmes lag behind other educational levels in their incorporation of electronic technologies. Investment in the area is limited by the precarious nature of adult literacy programmes and their funding constraints. But there is also some resistance to the use of information and communication technologies for adult learners in the area. For adult literacy practitioners, however, there is a growing number of dedicated websites offering the usual fare - on-line publications, links to resources and networks. Examples include the Literacy OnLine (, LiteracyLink for educators (, Literacy Training Network (

In recent years in America, there has been a small but pioneering growth of on-line literacy projects for adult learners exploiting bulletin boards, information servers and virtual learning communities. One example is the SHELCOM (Shelter Communications Literacy Network) project for adults living in homeless shelters in Philadelphia, USA. Modem links were set up between five separate shelter sites. Twice a week, for two hours each session, learners were paired across the city for email communication and collaborative writing activities developed together and with the help of on-line instructors at the National Center on Adult Literacy. Qualitative evaluation (Scheffer 1995) suggests that the motivating impact of the computers and computers had played a large part in the 75% retention of learners. LitLearner, set up by the public broadcasting service and the University of Pennsylvania, is an 'online collection of learning activities and resources for adult learners' - (www.litlink5.pbs/litlearner). It offers video and print materials and tools to 'set learning goals, manage your progress, and get feedback on your learning'.

Apart from the obvious differences of wealth, there are apparent differences of methodology between developing and industrialised countries here. Most of the developing-country examples are of attempts to improve access to information - rather than of structured programmes - while the rich-country examples are of programmes that have linked the use of technologies with some kind of individual support. Of course there are many programmes, and commercial activities within industrialised countries that provide informal and unstructured access to information. The growth of the Internet is only the most recently dramatic example. It is the absence of structured, developing-country programmes that merits more attention.

4.4.2 Broadcasting Broadcasting,

with its capacity to reach large numbers of adults even in remote locations, has been widely used for adult education. Attempts have been made to provide learner support, based on existing social networks, and linked with broadcasts. Participatory approaches have driven a shift towards public-interest broadcasting with programmes planned around identified audience needs and requests.

There is a long history of projects that seek to link group study and activity with broadcasts. Radio listening groups - also known as listening forums and clubs -make use of local educational broadcasts which are addressed to groups of learners who meet with a community teacher on a regular basis. Group discussions precede and follow the broadcasts and are often accompanied by additional flipchart material demonstrated by the teacher. The broadcasts usually centre on health and agricultural issues and may include related literacy work. The community teacher provides feedback, and sometimes actual recordings, to the radio broadcasters who then incorporate them into their future broadcasts. Examples include the Radio Listening Clubs in Zimbabwe and Radio Listening Groups, Kenya.

Video forums are similar in set-up. Many NGOs in Peru are involved in the production of alternative videos for development work among a wide range of beneficiaries. The videos which centre on journalist analyses of urban and rural issues from 15 different, mainly Latin America countries, are produced by development video specialists working in dedicated audio-visual and teaching aid centres. The objectives of such centres (such as Video Centro, Videoteca Alternativa) are 'education, dissemination of innovations, social promotion and participation within marginalised urban sectors and in the campesino communities' (Charun 1993). High production values and audience research have gone into preferred audiovisual formats; for example, it was found that documentaries and narrative reports are preferred over fiction. Most video forum work is done in Lima, the provinces and the southern part of the country with the main beneficiaries being women and district community groups. Half-hour videos are shown one to two times a week with an average of 40 viewers per showing. The forum around the video lasts for about an hour.

Small-scale, community radio stations can directly interact with the audience they serve. In remote or isolated areas they can operate in a multifunctional way providing the means for accessing a wide variety of vocational, business, health and agricultural information. Examples include Radio Dwensa in Mali, Radio Sagarmatha in Nepal and Radio Bobo, Burkina Faso. Within the Philippines, eleven community radio stations have been established under the auspices of the Tambuli Community Radio project in isolated and economically depressed areas of the country. The project started in 1991 and was externally funded by DANIDA until 1999. These low powered radio stations using 20 to 100 watt transmitters are collectively operated by community volunteers and transmit programmes planned by the people of the community. Village people are trained to produce their own simple programmes and they use them for entertainment, to discuss village issues and feedback messages to municipal and local leaders. They are 'dedicated to development, education and people empowerment' - The administration of the village radio has been devolved directly to the community and is undertaken by a village co-operative, church or school.

Health advocacy campaigns have used radio, with programmes emphasising preventative health care, and using as a format soap operas, songs and dramas. These national, local and community broadcasts are often linked to a variety of multi-media outreach activities.

The power of radio for education and information is very tangible in Mali. Most local and international NGOs, particularly those working on health issues like HIV/AIDs, have realised that radio is an important part of their outreach work. Plan International, UNICEF and others like Malian Groupes Pivots, regularly sponsor air-time on local radios, knowing that in doing so they are reaching many thousands of people. A comprehensive Health Survey completed for USAID in 1996 found that in Mali radio was the principal source of AIDS information for men (75% of the sample) and women (50%).

(Myers 1997)

International agencies, and development groups within industrialised countries have played a role in supporting broadcasting for adult basic education. The Centre for Communication Programs at Johns Hopkins University, USA, for example, has been involved with a number of increasingly sophisticated campaigns - the Promoting Family Planning through Mass Media in Nigeria and the Lilac Tent campaign in Bolivia which use combinations of television and radio, enter-educate songs and music videos. Television health dramas include Womanwatch television programmes (Philippines), And the Nile Flows On (Egypt), Nazariya (India), Tasi (Indonesia), Aahat (Pakistan). International broadcasters including the BBC World Service, Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and Radio France Internationale are also a source of adult education programmes. Their programmes are either beamed direct from their own stations or distributed as cassettes for rebroadcasting.

As previously noted (2.3), one wide-ranging review of experience in using mass media for public education in this way found that, paradoxically, while there is sufficient world experience to know how to run educational programmes of this kind effectively the knowledge is seldom applied so that most programmes fail (Hornik 1988). One of the difficulties, also noted in projects since his analysis, is to maintain interest in radio learning groups: few have found an organisational structure that is sustainable. Some projects have been over reliant on external funding, and have not been able to survive its withdrawal. Thus, the rich and varied experience of broadcast-led projects has to be tempered by the knowledge that few of them have succeeded in developing a long-standing and sustainable support structure to underpin the work of broadcasters.

4.4.3 Distance education

There is a narrow dividing line between some of the broadcasting projects discussed above and programmes of distance education. Programmes of rural education, using distance-teaching methods, have been run by governments, universities and, above all, NGOs. Some have been aimed at individuals, others at groups on the lines discussed above. Examples include INADES-formation in ten African countries, the Gobi Desert Project, the Functional Education Project for Rural Areas in Pakistan and the Women and Girls Literacy and Basic Skills Training Project in ethnic minority regions of Lao PDR. A number of these projects use group meetings, backed with materials from outside, as a central part of the teaching system.

INADES-formation, operating for more than a quarter of a century since 1962, has been providing education, including distance education, for farmers in ten African countries. It was established by the Roman Catholic Church and operates as an international NGO. The headquarters in Côte d'Ivoire has semi-independent branches in seven other francophone states and also in Kenya and Tanzania. It provides correspondence courses in farming and runs face-to-face training sessions; in recent years the emphasis of its work has been shifting from education to assist an individual farmer towards education aimed at the development of a whole community. It receives 80% of its revenue from funding sources abroad and its costs are relatively high for non-formal education, with a cost per seminar attender of about 18 790CFA francs ($38) per day. Nevertheless, it regularly reaches around 15 000 students per year and recruits 3000 to 4000 new enrolments each year. In the last three years, the majority of new learners were male, aged between 29-45, had only primary school education and were working on small-scale farms (INADES-formation 1998:7). Much of its work is directed towards individuals - though they are brought together in seminars - and INADES-formation has had only limited success in linking distance study with group work.

The UNESCO/UNICEF Gobi Desert project in Mongolia uses radio to deliver education to 15 000 nomadic women in livestock rearing techniques, family care, income generation and basic business skills. The radio programmes are related to the booklets and include literacy work. The programme includes visiting teachers, small information centres that serve as meeting places and learning groups.

An externally funded Functional Education Project for Rural Areas (FEPRA) at the Allama Iqbal Open University developed a methodology for group study, based on materials developed by the university and made available through cassettes and flipcharts. It demonstrated the effectiveness of its techniques but was conceived as a pilot project and took place in only one area of Pakistan. Replication to the rest of the country would have needed a structured system of co-operation with ministries that had cadres of rural extension agents, and a willingness for them to work in an unprecedented way.

The record of achievement echoes Hornik's conclusion, quoted above. There is ample experience of using distance education for adult basic education, in various different formats, but it demands a commitment of continuing support and interest that it has seldom been possible to maintain. NGOs have made the running, carried out the demonstrations, but for the most part neither been able to develop programmes to a national scale nor to persuade governments to put in the resources to maintain and expand them


Broadcasting, the use of computers and distance education have all been used for the education of teachers, extension agents, health workers and other educational intermediaries including literacy workers. These methods make it possible to apply leverage to the solution of educational problems, by strengthening the capacity of these intermediaries who play a key role in implementing government initiatives and as innovators of practice.

Teachers' education presents formidable challenges to governments and other agencies. To be effective and to keep up with the demands made upon them, they require quality training on a recurrent basis. However, as the single largest category of public-sector employees, their pay alone accounts for the majority of the recurrent educational budget.

Teacher education has problems of quantity and quality. In quantity, the supply of teachers and teacher education has often lagged behind the expansion of schooling. In Africa and South Asia, millions more teachers are needed. Andrews et al (1990: 63) suggested that up to half the practising teachers in the developing world were unqualified in terms of their own country's formal standards for teachers' education; primary or junior-secondary school graduates are still being recruited to teach with no formal training. In such contexts, the traditional pre-service and in-service distinction is inappropriate; more useful is the distinction between initial training (delivered either pre or in-service) and continuing professional education. Problems of teacher supply and training are compounded by shortages in certain areas: specialist junior-secondary teachers, particularly in science and mathematics; rurally based teachers living in cultures or communities which restrict mobility, women teachers (particularly where it makes the difference between girls attending school or not) and male teachers at primary level schools in western Europe and the English-speaking Caribbean.

It is useful to distinguish between two different strategies for teacher education: providing formal courses, often for qualifications, and making resources available for teachers, but without the framework of a formal course. Both strategies have been widely used. Although we look at them separately below, they are increasingly interwoven to create richer, more flexible and multi-channel learning opportunities for teachers.

4.5.1 Course-based teacher education

Most course-based distance education is aimed directly at teachers rather than teacher educators. This has the advantage of bringing education more rapidly to the teacher than is possible through a cascade approach.

In wealthy countries, communication technology is increasingly being employed within print-led teacher distance education for a variety of purposes: on-line teaching, networking, course delivery, assignment delivery and marking. We are also beginning to see more on-line courses. In Iceland, the University College of Iceland is offering on-line teacher education courses through The Icelandic Education Network. TRENDS (Training educators through networks and distributed systems) is a collaboration between seven European Union countries which aims to develop an in-service, schools-based teacher training system using multimedia and network technologies. In Denmark, some teacher education is conducted via computer-mediated conferencing, satellite-based teleconferencing, multimedia and computer-based training (Ingesman, 1997). The British Open University is remodelling a course leading to a postgraduate certificate in education so that it involves extensive online teaching and gives entrants to the teaching profession an opportunity to use computer conferencing for interaction with other trainee teachers.

The use of interactive video technology - sometimes referred to as two-way audio, one-way video or interactive narrowcasting - has been used extensively in the USA but is a recent development in teacher education in some developing countries (e.g. India and Morocco, Cape Verde). This teleconferencing network approach has been employed to address the difficulties of training remotely located teachers and as an alternative to a cascade approach. In India, for example, the Indira Gandhi National Open University and the Indian Space Research Organisation initiated a seven-day pilot training course for primary school teachers in twenty different district training institutes in Karnataka State in 1996 as part of a broader Special Orientation for Primary Teachers programme (Maheshwari and Raina 1998). In all, 850 teachers and 60 locally based facilitators at 20 district centres took part in the project. Studio-based educators made live one-way video presentations about different teaching areas - aided by pre-recorded video-clips - to groups of teachers in the different sites. These teachers engaged in the particular subject area both before and after the telecast through print materials and activities produced centrally by the 20-strong course team but mediated at the local level by trained facilitators. Direct questions to the educators could be made from the teachers through telephone and fax links. The approach used satellite transmission of the one-way video and two-way audio interaction, the production of video-clips, computer systems, cable television, telephones and radio and television broadcasts.

During the course of the seven days, thirteen thematic areas were explored, covered in either morning or afternoon sessions. These included areas such as techniques for multigrade teaching, using the blackboard effectively, physical education, developing mathematics competencies and language teaching. Achievement tests, designed as part of the project evaluation, showed gains in competencies. An international project, operating mainly in Latin America, has been piloted by UNESCO and the Iberoamerican Association of Educational Television for environmental education. It involves co-production between 98 different institutions in six Spanish-speaking countries - Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, and Spain. Eight universities from six of the countries each produced video programmes and print materials that present the variety of experiences in the field of environmental education - teaching methodologies, innovative teaching and use of technologies - but firmly embedded in the specific sociocultural contexts of each institution or country. It uses a different interpretation of interactive television:

The project includes two steps designed to ensure interactivity. First, the videos are viewed and discussed by an interest group within each participating institution. The target audience consists of students of education, teachers and others interested in the topic. An expert in environmental education guides the discussion enhanced by written material, explaining the theoretical background of the proposal. Second, an international discussion on the proposal will take place. In the phase of this discussion the questions and suggestions which arose during the local discussion will be sent to the producers of the program. Then, each institution will be connected via e-mail to four other members, forming a sub-group of five. Within this group, each participant will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and experience with colleagues in other countries.

(Kempf 1995: 1)

An evaluation of the project is being prepared. If successful the model will demonstrate a way of achieving the necessary scale to justify the use of television while retaining some interactivity.

Most distance education for teachers, whether pre-service or in-service, is carried out through correspondence lessons 'seizing the advantages of a medium which could reach students anywhere - though some students more quickly than others - and could give them a text on which to rely' (Perraton 1993: 78). In both industrialised and developing countries the print materials have sometimes been supported by radio and television broadcasts (often with cassette versions) and by tutorial support. Within industrialised countries there is an increasing use of computer technology used for additional on-line teaching, learning, networking, course delivery, assignment delivery and marking. In developing countries interactive technologies have played a minor role so far although this may change as the infrastructure of a country develops.

Particular combinations of media are often dictated by infrastructural and geographical realities. In Nepal, for example, a Radio Education Teacher Training Project, used radio as the main medium for reaching primary teacher trainees because the mountainous terrain and lack of reliable transportation system made delivery of printed materials problematic. In the South Pacific and West Indies, audio-conferencing is used to facilitate discussion between teacher and tutors on different islands over large distances. In China, the massive scale of teacher education requirements led to television- and radio-led training, offered through the China Central Radio and Television University among other institutions.

The providers of teacher distance education vary in organisational structure: dedicated large-scale open universities (Allama Iqbal University in Pakistan, Universitas Terbuka in Indonesia); mainstream universities with distance education units (University of Zambia, University Javeriana, Colombia); dedicated distance teacher education colleges (National Teachers' Institute in Nigeria); one-off, time-limited projects for primary teachers such as the Mubende Integrated Teacher Education Project in Uganda (1991-5) and the Malawi Special Teacher Education Programme (1990-3).

Distance-education programmes have been run for various different purposes. Some focus on initial training for unqualified teachers delivered either pre-service (Christchurch College, New Zealand) or in-service (National Teachers' Institute, Nigeria). Others provide further professional development to up-grade experience teacher (University of Nairobi, Kenya and Insituto de Aperfeicoamento dos Professores, Mozambique). Some give teachers an updating in new curriculum (Allama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan) while others offer retraining in specific subject areas. The Southern African Commonwealth Accord in 1998 was an agreement between several universities to pool and co-develop in-service training teachers in science, mathematics and technology subjects. Some distance education is aimed at teacher trainers. In 1992, the Network for Teacher Upgrading, in Lao People's Democratic Republic, for example, started training ten primary teacher educators in each of eight regional centres by means of mixed-mode delivery - a combination of distance education modules and residential courses in order to train 3,200 untrained primary teachers in remote areas by 1996.

We have considerable evidence on the methodology, costs and effects of distance education for teacher training (Perraton 1993, Robinson 1997). Many distance-education programmes have achieved high success rates, or successful completion rates. In particular, where teacher education programmes led to a qualification that increased a trainee's status and pay, motivation has helped towards success. There is some evidence of changes in classroom practice as a consequence of distance-education programmes. We assess the evidence below (5.1.2). The main difficulty in executing programmes has been to organise classroom practice, as an integral part of the programme, and to supervise this practice. In some cases this has been made the responsibility of the staff of regular teachers' colleges. Occasionally in-school mentors have been trained to provide classroom guidance to trainee teachers. And, where the main aim of a programme has been to strengthen teachers' general education, a deliberate decision has been made to concentrate on these other aspects and not to monitor classroom practice.

Evidence on the costs and outcomes of some teacher education projects are shown in table 5.2. They show that, by and large, distance-education programmes do succeed in getting trainee teachers to pass their examinations. Where we have evidence on teaching performance, teachers trained at a distance compare adequately with those trained conventionally. Most of the cost evidence is consistent that, above a threshold in terms of numbers, teacher training at a distance costs less than conventional training (see 5.2.1 below).

4.5.2 Resource-based teacher education

Alongside formal courses of teacher education there has been a growth in programmes to provide resources for teachers and self-access learning opportunities for them. Information and communication technologies are being increasingly used for these purposes. They have two potential benefits. They can make educational resources of all kinds more readily available and can serve as a challenge of communication among teachers. In doing so they can help overcome the isolation faced by some teachers, and by teachers' colleges. A variety of innovative communication-based projects have demonstrated some of the potential.

A number of projects have sought to use communication technology to create virtual communities of teachers, in the form of Internet interest-group sites or e-mail connected networks of teachers.

There have been national and international moves to link teachers' colleges through information and communication technology. These projects assume that teachers are key agents for stimulating educational reform and that improved communications can help teachers initiate change within the educational system from the grassroots level. Potential benefits are seen to include facilitating dialogue between practising teachers and college staff members, educational planners and policy makers on issues related to learning and teaching.

Some experimental projects of this kind have been launched within developing countries. The United Nations has a set of Harnessing Information Technology for Development initiatives which includes a project on Creating Learning Networks for African Teachers project. It is intended to equip a maximum of four teacher-education colleges in each of 20 African countries with a computer and full access to the Internet in order to develop local, national and regional networks. The project, in its pilot stage, will also fund teacher education curriculum development in the area of mathematics and science and the creation of 20 national educational websites.

In the pilot project in Zimbabwe, the participating colleges have developed their own websites, linked by a collaborative web-based platform and all lecturers and trainee teachers have undergone an in-house computer literacy course. The project has had mixed results. While the percentage of computer literate lecturers increased to nearly 75%, many lecturers found that, to use the system effectively, they needed more training than had been anticipated. Lecturers did not always feel confident in their use of computers and felt uncomfortable demonstrating to students. At the same time, as access to the Internet was available from only one computer, practical constraints tended to be demotivating. Colleges are now considering networking computers within the college and increasing the number of computers with Internet connectivity. Lack of funding has limited the follow-up to this pilot project in Zimbabwe but other projects have started elsewhere in Africa. In Mozambique, for example, The WorldLinks for Development aims to connect all secondary, technical and teacher training colleges to the Internet. Underpinning the project are computer literacy training workshops and pedagogical training modules extended first to a cadre of teacher educators and eventually to every teacher within each institution.

The evidence seems to suggest that there should be significant practical benefits in using advanced communication technologies within teachers' colleges but that the practical problems of doing so, and of integrating them with the curriculum, are far from being overcome.

A range of nonformal organisations is also driving the development of virtual communities for teachers, especially in industrialised countries. Independent professional associations for teachers are increasingly on-line. TeacherNetUK (, for example, aims to support teachers' professional development by selecting appropriate existing web projects, facilitating links to national and international teacher networks and developing on-line discussion groups for debate, dissemination of information and news. Teachers can develop an online profile of their interests, needs and achievements and then TeachNetUK attempts to match the individual with accredited professional development programmes. Similar websites exist in many industrialised countries around the world. In Africa, the website Forum for African Women Educationalists ( posts articles on gender issues in education for children and teachers, has 'Networks for change' and is developing links to 'chapters' in all individual African countries.

Other types of virtual dialogue for teachers (and other intermediaries) are on-line experts and mentors. Teacher-learners can seek information and advice from organisations which offer ask-an-expert about particular subject areas, e.g. health ( and weather topics, ( Mentoring schemes offer one-to-one guidance to individual teachers by well-established members of the teaching community. In an effort to increase the retention of new teachers, the US National Science Teachers Association is providing first- year primary teachers with experienced teachers as mentors ( In Australia, the faculty of education at the University of Wollongong is linking teachers directly to lecturers through email networks and provides online support to teachers in school. Mighty Mentors ( allows mentors and those they are advising to search for each other based on the levels at which they are teaching, their subject interest, and their location.

There is rapid growth in on-line teacher education resources mostly in North America, Australasia and western Europe. These are as yet thin on the ground in developing countries, but their future development may help to redress the imbalance between the information rich and the information poor and generate home-grown, culturally appropriate website resources. Resources vary from small-scale websites (often for teachers and students) with downloadable materials in particular subject areas to larger-scale CyberLibraries consisting of a broad range of subject-oriented resources with state-of-the-art literature about integrating technology and good practice guidelines, curriculum resources and projects, links to lesson plans and classroom activities. Examples of the former include NASA's Classroom of the Future Program ( which provides teachers with literature about mathematics, science and technology education. Examples of the latter include TTS Internet Links and resources for Primary Teachers (, the Teaneck Public Schools CyberLibrary ( , the SLS CyberLibrary ('sls/teaching), K-12 world CyberLibrary (

The use of CD-ROMs provides an alternative way of distributing information for those who have computers but no Internet access. Given the necessary agreement on intellectual property, CD-ROM distribution can provide access to educational literature which is not otherwise accessible to many teacher educators. UNESCO, for example, has developed Education CD-ROMs, available in three languages, each with the equivalent of 20 000 printed pages of teacher education articles and references.

Low-tech approaches have also been followed in offering resources to teachers. In order to develop better English language skills among teachers, the national Self-access Project for Teachers' Colleges in Malaysia aimed to establish self-access English language learning materials - mainly print materials, audio-cassettes and some videos - in all 28 teachers' colleges in Malaysia. This included developing resource centre management in addition to learner induction and monitoring. Self-access materials development projects like these seem likely to become a growth area in the future and underpin the trend towards the development of decentralised community resource centres, used by a variety of target groups, including teachers. In richer countries, well-established library systems often provide both the community resource centre and some teacher education opportunities. For example, the Herefordshire schools library service, like other libraries in the national library service of the UK, offer an INSET programme designed to enhance the teachers' or school librarians' existing library skills and to keep staff up-to-date with new resources - books, audio-cassettes, videos and CD-ROMs - which reflect national priorities in education and the national curriculum.

Educational broadcasting for teacher education exists but is thin on the ground. One example is that of Bombay Television Center which telecasts a 20- minute programme for primary teachers every week aimed at improving knowledge and skills. National television in India also broadcasts 45-minute programmes - Hints for Teachers - once a week during school hours on Saturdays in different languages to raise awareness about innovations in teaching.

4.5.3 Conclusion

Two broad conclusions can be drawn from this varied experience. First, the application of communication technologies of all kinds to teacher education offers a way both of overcoming the isolation that is inherent in their employment and of raising their skills as teachers. There are demonstrable successes in broadcasting and in the use of distance education and important potential in the use of computer-based technologies. While the cost of some technological developments may be high, investment for teacher support and training allows a multiplier effect.

It may, therefore, be possible to look to the development of computer-based communication to support teachers long before it becomes realistic to deploy computers in many classrooms. Second, much teacher education demands a sensitivity to what the teacher is doing in the classroom - something that often needs to be demonstrated, seen, and practised rather than mediated and learnt about through print or broadcast or computer. But the evidence of success of, for example, distance education for teachers, suggests that the availability of technologies makes it possible to rethink the structure of teacher education. 'The strongest case for using distance education in the education of teachers may, in fact, be that it will centralise and industrialise those parts of teacher education for which this is appropriate, and so allow time and resources to be devoted, in greater measure, to interaction and reflection' (Perraton 2000: 83).


The use of technology in training for health workers reflects trends in health sector policies and demands within the profession. Primary health care planning is increasingly being decentralised to district level with a new emphasis on training health workers from within the community. This in turn has encouraged health planners to collect local information in order to develop appropriate strategies and allocate resources. Pressure to involve communities in health planning also requires health workers to develop and strengthen their capacities to use participatory approaches. There are, therefore increased demands for good communication systems and for inservice training and updating for health workers. Methods need to be found that will not take health workers out of the field and will reach workers in remote and isolated areas; distance education in various forms has been employed for these purposes. A range of technologies have been used for the training and support of health workers and are set out in table 4.5

4.6.1 ICTin health education and access to health resources

Within industrialised countries, the medical profession has made considerable use of information and communication technology to provide access to current medical knowledge and, through telemedicine projects, to provide access to table 4.5 information and advice to remote doctors and other health professionals. Most of this work is at tertiary level, but some of the techniques may in due course lend themselves to the training of health workers operating at basic level. MERMAID (Medical Emergency Aid through Telematics) is a European Commission project which illustrates the potential of the technologies. It aims to deliver a 24-hour multilingual telemedicine system of surveillance and emergency services and establish a telematic network connecting major private and public emergency centres around the world. The system will enable the transfer of medical expertise via satellite and ground based ISDN and other networks where necessary, responding to the needs of those dealing with medical emergencies on ships, for example, and those of distant and isolated populations or areas where there are no fully experienced doctors.

Similarly, within the developing world, there are the beginnings of programmes to use communication technologies to extend the reach of health information. In Ghana, for example, there are proposals for a telehealth project at the Martin Luther King Memorial Clinic in Accra, which would complement the existing health delivery systems and serve poor, disadvantaged and marginalised people living in rural areas. If funding is secured, it will involve the installation of computer communication equipment in some rural clinics and laboratories, the training of health personnel in the use of the technologies and the provision of some mobile clinics for rural areas. Similarly the Northwest China Telehealth Service will use networked information to help overcome the problems of inaccessible, remote, poorly equipped and impoverished areas in China. 'Medical schools and hospitals in Zinjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, and Shaanxi Province will be linked to medical centers elsewhere in China and in the US. Together, they will form a network to provide continuing medical education, telemedicine, and library services. Users in Northwest China, depending on their capabilities, will access these services by telephone, fax, e-mail or the World wide Web' - In the Western Pacific, the still-image telephone has been used to provide long distance medical consulting and continuing medical education to isolated health-care workers. Still-image telephone is a still-frame video-conferencing system which, used with a video cameras and a television monitor, can digitise and transmit freeze-frame colour pictures over ordinary telephone line. It is also possible to link it to satellite telephone system.

In Australia, the Cairns Rural Health Training Unit provides training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health workers by means of audiographic learning . This is an application which uses a combination of computer, modem and a speaker-phone. Participants in different sites can interact by phone or on screen. Data (text and pictures) can be sent down the modem line before a session is delivered live. During the conference, the graphics device allows anyone in the conference to handwrite, type text or draw graphics which are seen in all locations. The potential of information and communication technologies for the education and training of health workers, and for providing them with good and up-to-date information is clear. As yet, however, the evidence is of potential rather than achievement.

4.6.2 Broadcasting

We have already discussed the trend toward sophisticated multi-faceted health campaigns which pivot around popular culture radio and television broadcasts (4.3.2). Most are directed at general listeners but, to maximise impact and ensure consistency, often build in a range of spin-off activities and resources for particular audiences, schools, teachers and health workers. The Radio Communication Project in Nepal, for example, using a combination of soap opera radio broadcasting and distance learning, was aimed at general listeners but included materials for updating resources and information for health workers. A combination of radio and postal material aimed to improve communication between husbands and wives and between service providers and clients as part of a family planning service. Health workers were provided with upgrading information on family planning and reproductive health and encouraged to improve their interpersonal communication and counselling skills.

4.6.3 Distance Education

Most health distance education in developing countries is conducted by means of correspondence courses and is offered at various levels (certificates, diplomas, degrees) and in a range of subjects areas. Programmes offering inservice training for rural health workers have been run in many parts of the world. The African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF), has been providing courses, which exemplify this approach, since the 1980s. The Foundation's headquarters are in Kenya and it has country or field offices in Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Its courses are directed to a range of health workers - community nurses, clinical officers and public health technicians. From a pilot of 100 students, the Foundation had reached over 6000 by 1995. It runs two programmes. In the first, it offers ten distance-education courses - print with audio and radio - in areas such as communicable diseases and immunisation. The second uses radio programmes directed at health workers in areas such as dental health, diabetes, HIV/AIDS.

The Distance Education Programme (DEP) run by the Ministry of Health in Uganda provides continuing education to health workers - in government and NGO hospitals, dispensaries, health centres and sub-dispensaries - through self-directed materials, correspondence course and radio programmes. Other methods include workshops, seminars and short courses. Since its inception in 1986, it has reached over 5,970 learners. One problem associated with it is low completion rates which appears attributable to the fact that the courses are not certificated or recognised for promotion purposes.

In the Solomon Islands, the scarcity of training programmes available for remote health workers has led to the local adaptation of AMREF and Fiji School of Nursing materials and the addition of locally produced handbooks and videos. Students are supported by means of assignments, two-way radio contact and newsletters and are funded to travel to provincial centres for occasional seminars and meetings with tutors. The attachment programme provides students from remote areas with the opportunity to practice clinical and interview skills.

Mixed-mode delivery - the combination of face-to-face learning with distance education within the same course - is proving useful as a means of ensuring that health training on centrally produced courses is culturally appropriate. In Australia, at Yooroang Garang, the Centre for Indigenous Health Studies of the University of Sydney, attempts are made to address the need for developing culturally appropriate health strategies by incorporating community based and independent learning packages within a diploma programmes. These emphasise students' learning in, with and from their local communities in relation to health issues. They contain a variety of learning materials such as readings, audio cassettes, board games, written exercises in workbook form, as well as practical tasks that involve co-operative work in the student's own community. They also use community-based tutors employed through an existing Aboriginal Tutorial Assistance Scheme.

Self-instructional materials are also proving a useful way to train remote health workers. The World Health Organisation, for example, produces Clinical skills: a self-instructional course, designed to teach health workers to assess and treat cases of diarrhoea and to educate families about prevention and home treatment of diarrhoea. The package includes print and audio-cassette materials. One problem with a print-based approach is that some health worker or auxiliary trainees may have low literacy skills, especially in a second language. Translation into local languages may not be practical. Pennells (1996) used another solution. In a small research project in the Maldives, he found that community health workers had difficulty in using their manual - Where there is no Doctor, a village health care handbook for Africa produced by Teaching Aids at Low Cost. This manual was considered central to community health workers during initial training and subsequently used as a reference book in their working life. In order to help trainees once they were back in the field and maintain their training, he adapted the existing manual into a self-study package by adding an audio component and supplementary audio-vision frames and notes. The wrap-around materials integrated referencing and indexing skills, English language skills, and practice in a range of literacy and numeracy skills such as following instructions, working with fractions, and calculating dosages from information provided.

There is, apparently, less reported experience on the use of mass media approaches to the training of health personnel, than there is of teacher education. At the same time there are often similarities between the educational needs, and social circumstances, of primary-school teachers, primary health-care workers, and agricultural extension agents to whom we turn next.


Well-trained agricultural extension workers are key players in rural development. 'Studies have shown that the improvement in farmers' knowledge, skills, attitude, efficiency and productivity are positively correlated to the training level and quality of extension staff' (Qamar 1998.)

As for health workers, distance education seems a natural choice for the in-service training of the scattered cadres of extension agents. The need for continuing education, on a regular basis, is particularly important where, as in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the majority of agricultural extension personnel are educated only to secondary level. It becomes even more important where, as in Africa, there is a projected 50% shortfall in trained staff numbers and insufficient institutional capacity to cover estimated training needs (ibid.: 4-5). Table 4.6 sets out a number of approaches to he training of extension staff.

4.7.1 ICT

As in the area of health, the most significant application of communication technologies may lie not within formal courses for extension agents but through the development and use of information services. As extension agents develop improved ways of getting answers to farmers' problems, so the quality of their work is likely to improve. (It may be, too, that encouraging access to information available though the Internet will counterbalance the, much-criticised, top-down approach of some conventional extension work.)

A growing number of on-line agricultural databases are internationally available on subscription. For example, the Electronic Reference Library (ERL) provides access to the four major agricultural databases - AGRICOLA, AGRIS, CAB Abstracts, TROPAG and Rural. After a two-month trial period, the Department of Research in Botswana subscribed on a permanent basis in 1998. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) also has an on-line and multilingual database of statistics and data in a range of agricultural areas. The CTA website, for example, ( is dedicated to 'advancing agricultural and rural development in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries by promoting the transfer, exchange and utilisation of information'. It table 4.6 provides a database with publications, networking advice, information to producers of audio-visual material, audio download sites for re-broadcasting, training databases and a CD-ROM Programme. As noted previously, where Internet access is costly or impractical, CD-ROMs offer a partial alternative - good for research literature or information about plant pathology, useless for information about current market prices. Within industrialised countries country-specific websites, often aimed at computer-literate farmers themselves, have been developed and act as a clearinghouse to other nationwide agricultural sites. is an American example.

Computer-aided data collection using laptop or hand-held computers is becoming widely used in Europe, Australasia and North America for data collection in health and agriculture as well as for population surveys and censuses. Their use in developing countries is limited as yet but may well become employed in needs-based, data-dependent areas like agricultural extension to make the flow of information more efficient. There have been recent experiments with computer-aided personal interviewing (CAPI) in Madagascar for example (

4.7.2 Broadcasting

Broadcasting is used by agricultural extension agencies as a means of disseminating information to farming communities rather than as a vehicle for training their own staff. Farm radio programmes have long been a staple activity of many agricultural extension services, often run in cooperation between ministry of agriculture extension services and national broadcasting authorities. A number of studies have shown that radio is likely to be the primary source of new agricultural information to farmers. It tends to be trusted, and unit costs per farmer are often modest. But, while extension agents have long worked with radio programmes, it appears to have been little used for the training of extension agents.

New technologies are beginning to play a role in staff training. There have been experiments with interactive television - one-way video, two-way audio teleconferencing - for in-service training of extension staff. The Jhabua Development Communications Project in India organised in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation has recently experimented with satellite television broadcasting to extension staff from various departments of the state governments.

A small number of international projects have provided broadcasts in agriculture. The Developing Countries Farm Radio Network, based in Canada, disseminates radio scripts (in English, French and Spanish) in a variety of agricultural subject areas. These provide programme planners and scriptwriters with examples of different approaches which can also be adapted by agricultural extension workers to suit local conditions and translated into local dialects and languages. International broadcasters such as the BBC World Service also produce a range of agriculturally orientated radio programmes, often for specific developing country regions, which are available for re-broadcasting. CTA provides an audio download website - the Rural Radio Database - for broadcasters to listen to and download suitable ready-made radio materials.

4.7.3 Distance Education

A number of distance-education courses for agricultural extension workers - and indeed farmers - have been produced by open or dual-mode universities. Most of these are print-led (but often with accompanying cassette and tutorial support) and several are aimed at workers educated to secondary equivalent level. Print-based courses have, for example, been produced by the South African Extension Unit in Tanzania and the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand. Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in India has developed broadcast-led courses. As with health worker training, the literacy demands of such courses, often in second languages, can prove difficult for learners previously educated only to secondary level and now returning to study, after several years break. Culturally appropriate literacy support and quality tutorial support at a local level is desirable but not always available.

Wye College, of the University of London, offers an internationally available print-led distance education course aimed mainly at developing countries. It is tutored from Britain but also, wherever possible, supported locally. Although offering postgraduate certificates and diplomas, in practice the course has been taken by underqualified but experienced extension staff, offering a route to formal qualifications not otherwise available to them.


The various communication technologies have been used in-school and outside to raise the quality of education, to change the curriculum, and to meet the needs of scattered communities. Much attention has recently been directed to the use of computers in schools, for a variety of educational purposes, with an increasing emphasis on using Internet materials and on electronic school-linking projects. Where computer-based technologies have been applied outside school they have been used more often as a means of getting access to sources of information than as a means of teaching or a subject of the curriculum. Radio, some television, and distance education have continued to play a role in providing based education out of school for some deprived groups of young people and adults. Programmes of teacher education, using distance-teaching methods, have demonstrated the leverage on the educational service that can be provided in this way. There are the small beginnings, but not much more, of training health workers and agricultural extension agents in the same way.

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