April 2005

Volunteer your expertise to educate the teeming millions!

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Worldwide, an estimated 103 million children of primary school age are still not enrolled in school, depriving one in every five children access to even the most basic education. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will require the ingenuity, solidarity, and creativity of millions of ordinary people through voluntary action. Efforts on the part of national governments, supported by the international community, can only complement what ultimately will depend on the full involvement of people all over the world. Six billion people have something to contribute. Recognising this fact is the first step on the way towards harnessing this vast resource in a global effort to meet the MDG targets. This is a call for action by the United National Volunteers programme, which has been a catalyst for many organisations to receive expertise globally.

There are important lessons from innovative uses of ICTs for e-Learning and especially some that have been used successfully at secondary levels. These can be applied to the primary school education, with some research and innovation. When the poor and the marginalised have to combat multiple barriers of hunger, of lack of access and poor health, including millions who are orphaned due to epidemics and war, the challenges are plenty.

This issue of i4d magazine tries to look at the dimension of ICTs to not just act as a tool, but as an effective interactive social space and learning medium, where teachers become facilitators, and where rigidity of curricula gives way to flexibility in learning, and using the Internet as a valuable global resource, building research skills and creative spaces for peer-to-peer learning, cutting geographical and cultural divides.

We are optimistic and believe that this is just a small beginning for an arduous task ahead for each one of us to contribute a small bit, and volunteering our expertise to the needy millions, and have an educated and aware next generation.

In understanding the global picture, we have fostered a new alliance with International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), Netherlands, by becoming an Asia Partner for iConnect. This will help us learn from what has been happening in Africa, and, in turn, contribute outreach space for the partners in Africa. We look forward to forging more collaborations and partnerships to make ICTs as effective and powerful as it can get!

Ravi Gupta

ravi.gupta@csdms.org

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