Mobile broadband the key to bringing ?education to all? — UN

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Photo credit: Photo credit:[/caption] A report by the Commission?s Working Group on Education, led by Unesco, indicated that, worldwide, over 60 million primary-school age children do not currently attend school; almost half that number never will. The situation worsens as children get older, with over 70 million not enrolled in secondary school. And while classroom computers can help, lack of resources remains critical. If an average of eight children share each classroom computer in OECD nations, in Africa teachers can struggle to share each computer among 150 or more pupils. But with increasingly sophisticated mobile devices now packing more computing power than the famed ?supercomputers? of the late 1990s, the commission said broadband-connected personal wireless devices could be the solution. ITU figures show that mobile broadband is the fastest growing technology in human history. The number of mobile phone subscriptions now exceeds the world?s total population of around seven billion, and active mobile broadband subscriptions exceed 2.1 billion ? three times higher than the 700 million wireline broadband connections worldwide. Even more encouragingly, most of this progress has taken place in the developing world, which has accounted for 90 percent of global net additions for mobile cellular and 82 percent of global net additions of new Internet users since early 2010. ?Education is one of the most powerful uses to which broadband connectivity can be put,? said ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao. ?For the first time in history, mobile broadband gives us the chance to truly bring education to all, regardless of a person?s geographical location, linguistic and cultural frameworks, or ready access to infrastructure like schools and transport. Education will drive entrepreneurship, especially among the young ? which is why we must strive harder to get affordable broadband networks in place which can deliver educational opportunities to children and adults,? he said. Established in 2010, the Broadband Commission is a top-level advocacy body which focuses on strategies to make broadband more available and affordable worldwide. It is chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Mexico?s Carlos Slim Hel?, with ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao and Unesco director-general Irina Bokova as co-vice chairs. ?Every day, everywhere, women and men are inventing new ways to use broadband, mobile telephones and computers to be empowered, more autonomous and free,? said unesco director-general Irina Bokova. ?We need to tap this inventiveness to improve education, especially for girls and women. But we have a long way to go. Two-thirds of illiterate adults are women, and two thirds of the world?s out-of-school primary-age children are girls. This is a huge injustice, and a gap that we must fill. The continued expansion of broadband combined with technology can help us make giant strides towards this.? ]]>

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