Interactive Distance Learning: Using it for functional literacy and vocational skills
As developing countries try to re-affirm their ability to be counted among the best in the world, one of the most serious vulnerabilities they will confront is the quality of skill sets available with their respective populations. This is more particular of large populous nations like India, but would be relevant for any developing coultry as well.
Ten years ago, the problem was not so serious. Trade and tariff barriers could insulate any workforce that was unskilled and illiterate. But today, the unskilled - especially the illiterate -- workforce remains more vulnerable and a social and political nightmare.
This will hit the poor most savagely, as most well-educated members of the workforce come from higher income families. They can cope with change far more effectively, and even move up the value chain. Unless the poor are given the benefits of good and employable education, they will be far worse off than today.
But this will require confronting three challenges: (a) the proportion of good teachers and trainers, at all levels, is rapidly declining at an alarming rate; (b) the number of potential students is increasing and is often dispersed; and (c) quality education is usually frightfully expensive.
These problems can be overcome, by using innovative solutions like open source interactive distance learning and quality content at extremely low costs. While this technology is quite good for theoretical courses, they can pose problems when teaching students skills. That is where a collaborative approach becomes very useful. This collaboration is most desirable with industry that enjoy a great brand advantage in the industry for which the skill is being imparted.