E-learning is the future for women and girls
A key challenge that persists when it comes to ensuring that children all around the world, especially young girls, have access to proper education has to do with scalability. However, innovative new technologies have the power to overcome this obstacle, experts at the Women's Economic Empowerment Global Summit (WEEGS) said. The two-day summit is organised by the Nama Women Advancement Establishment, and is in line with its commitment to promoting women's status economically and professionally and expanding their involvement in all walks of life on an equal footing with their male counterparts.
Speaking in a panel session on the second day of the event, Anna Falth, manager of WeLearn, said education has today evolved to become a product that is delivered to the masses. A challenge that has remained, however, is that education is not always targeted to what is needed in the labour market, she said.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, under secretary-general and executive director - UN Women, said while technology can solve many problems when it comes to reaching young children and providing them with access to learning resources, the technology itself has to be simple. "Today, at the touch of a button, you can reach millions of people. However, you have to ensure that the technology is easy to use."
One of the 17 goals of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals to transform the world has to do with ensuring inclusive and quality education for all and promoting lifelong learning. Major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrollment rates in schools, particularly for women and girls. Research has shown that basic literacy skills have improved tremendously, yet bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. For example, the world has achieved equality in primary education between girls and boys, but few countries have achieved that target at all levels of education.
Sandy Tantra, head of brand marketing at Google Asia Pacific, said technology has to be accessible to everyone. E-learning, she said, has revolutionised the educational system. "Today, there is a wealth of learning content available online. We have seen that there are millions of people who are hungry for such content. When it comes to the education of women and young girls, the policy should always be that no one should be left behind."
Bel Pesce, founder of FazINOVA, said while a lot of very admirable work has been done in improving access to basic education in various parts of the world, institutions should not stop with the "small victories."
"There is a lot more that you can do with technology," she said. "Use technology to understand behaviours and to get people to engage and learn in a way that fits them. Hybrid models are very powerful as well, especially when it comes to connecting the online and offline world. This is especially important when you realise that many users come from different demographics, and not all of them are proficient in the use of new technologies. A winning formula involves creating smart content with good technology."
Dima Najim, UAE managing director, EFE-Global, said the sky is the limit when it comes to technology and that virtual learning is the way of the future. "Some youth might not take to online learning, so we have to find a way to blend it into their programmes."