It's a fascinating idea to consider. Instead of using a traditional classroom, could we educate children in the developing world by using mobile phones? Well, the United Nations is taking a hard look at it, particularly in Africa.
The UN has a mobile learning specialist named Steve Vosloo. And he believes mobile phones could be the future of education across the continent.
Vosloo says many African countries have greatly improved their education systems over the past ten years. And yet, there are still enormous challenges to overcome.
High drop out rates - according to the UN, 10 million kids in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of primary school every year.
A big shortage of teachers - for every child to have a quality education by 2015, it's estimated sub-Saharan Africa will need to hire 350,000 new teachers every year.
Those kind of numbers are staggering. That's where Vosloo says mobile phones come in. He points out that Africa is the fastest-growing mobile phone market in the world, with 620 million subscribers. And in some countries (Botswana, Gabon and Namibia), there are more subscriptions than people.
With that kind of growth, there is huge potential to use phones to send out educational materials, curriculum, reading and writing projects, novels, poems, math problems, health education etc. Vosloo says it also opens the door to remote tutoring, learning between friends, and better communication between schools, teachers and parents.
Plus, Vosloo says mobile learning can happen 'anytime, anywhere' because the devices are personal and interactive. You can carry it around with you, connect with other people, ask questions and get answers morning, noon and night. So, he says kids can learn while they live, work and play.
Vosloo makes his case in a piece he wrote for the BBC, and explains several projects and services that have become incredibly popular among young people in Africa. You can read his entire article here.
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