Intel Teach and South-east Asia
From left to right: Intel’s teacher training, classroom PC and learning series tablet. Source: http://goo.gl/Xkok9
Whatever the criticisms of corporate-social responsibilities (CSR) activities may be –such as accusations that the parent company announces projects only for tax benefits or good publicity – a handful of CSR projects have had long-term positive impacts. The Intel Teach Program is one of these real successes. As this report in Reuters news agency says: “Intel Teach has enabled 10 million teachers” and “reached more than 300 million students”. Recent announcements of similar projects being initiated in South-east Asia evidence that Intel Teach must be understood as having an undeniable impact in formal education worldwide, and what future CSR projects can model themselves on.
10 million teachers; 300 million students
“Intel Celebrates 10 Million Teachers Trained”, a press release carried by Reuters News Agency on Sep 7, 2011, reports that the program had reached 10 million teachers trained in more than 70 countries, and by Intel’s estimates, reached 300 million students. The Intel Teach program is in its second decade of operations and aims is to train teachers to “effectively integrate technology into their lessons to promote problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration skills” in students, “areas called 21st century skills by educators”.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini says about the program: “We invest in teachers to that they inspire our students to be innovative, creative, and prepared with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are imperative to our future.” The focus on using technology in the classroom to facilitate critical thinking and problem-solving skills have struck a rich vein as program reports show that students were more motivated and showed more in-depth understanding.
The program’s close collaborations with national, regional, and local education institutions and governments have been one of its mains strengths. In some places, this collaboration has made it the primary ICT training program in a country. As an example the article cites the case of Jordan, where teachers must complete the program to be “eligible for promotion and a 15 percent pay increase”.
Intel, ICT education, and South-east Asia
South-east Asia provides a great example of the current focus on connecting ICT concerns and tools with education programs like Intel Teach. As the article “A “smarter” through ICT” from 2009 reports, the National Electronic and Computer Technology Center (Nectec), a private sector actor, has drafted a four year plan to make the country’s people and government smarter by increasing access and utilizations of ICT.
Similarly Metfone, a major private cell phone provider in the region, has signed MoUs committing to providing 2000 free internet connections to education institutions under the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports. In Vietnam the Ministry of Education and Training has announced an e-learning initiative to “modernize Vietnam’s education system by 2011 and to provide opportunities for the country’s teachers and students.” And in the Philippines the Department of Education Internet Connectivity Program (DICP) has been running for several years and have utilized public sector and private sector actors to connect 4,497 public schools with central mandate that they “properly implement their computer class program as part of the curriculum.”
Digital literacy and sustainability
ICT interventions in education across South-east Asian region are not simply limited to providing Internet connectivity and curriculum changes. There is also attention to providing hardware, and funding for scholarships. Intel has promised to facilitate Vietnam’s e-learning initiatives by providing “one million affordable PCs” (the program is called Education PC and will focus on providing sturdy tablets rather than computers) and training to teachers.
Metfone has also pledged two- year educational scholarships to Cambodian students to help them in their ICT education. Within this context, the Intel Teach program, which led the way towards a focus on digital literacies has had real impact. As Dr. Ermetes F. Adolfo, Jr., a member of the Philippines Department of education, says: “[Such programs] enable teachers to introduce, expand and support 21st century learning, including research and testimonials illustrating Intel Education’s commitment to high quality 21st century education for all.”
The face of literacy is taking new forms everyday with children and adults needing to use various media for performing different tasks. The new literacy practices only prove that literacy is fluid as it can be practiced across different media. Intel is a key player in helping to disseminate digital literacy in developing regions by training teachers in the modern forms of literacy. Their work in Vietnam and Cambodia will enable many children to learn digital literacy who may not be able to afford the education without the partnerships between their respective governments and Intel.
While the Intel educational projects seem perfect at the moment, questions can be asked about the sustainability of such programs. Little or no discussion took place on how to make these ICT literacy drives endure, if/when Intel stops funding them. Perhaps the governments will be responsible for carrying on with these programs, perhaps they will not. I hope the respective governments and beneficiaries of the Intel Teach program start planning for the future sustainability of such positive endeavors now.
P.S: Dear readers, although helping teachers and students in developing countries with computer literacy and training may be well accepted, educators and children from developed countries feel differently about ICTs in formal education. As they are already familiar with computers they sometimes feel that ICTs curricula are not teaching higher-level ICTs skills or making children lazy and dependent on ICTs. Naoko and Anna, two of our ICT4BOP bloggers will discuss these different perspectives on ICTs in formal education from the developed world this week.
Intel Celebrates 10 Million Teachers Trained in Reuters on Sept. 7, 2011: http://goo.gl/8iAO2
Intel Teach Program homepage: http://goo.gl/Xqluw
ICTs to revolutionize education system in Vietnam in ICTs, Education and Entrepreneurship on February 4, 2010: http://goo.gl/FvVNR
Intel provides PCs on Intel Teach Program World wide: http://goo.gl/raKXG
DICP: Project to connect all schools in Philippines in League of Corporate Foundations: http://goo.gl/hP3AW
Public schools urged to implement computer class program in Philippine Information Agency on January 19, 2012: http://goo.gl/ZXDht
Cambodia schools connected Metfone and Viettel in Viettel Group on May 8, 2011: http://goo.gl/NIA8W
“A smarter Thailand through ICT” on in ICT in Education of UNESCO Bangkok on May 8, 2009: http://goo.gl/fTkTz
“Intel-teach Program Saves the Illiterates Not Only in the Philippines but Also in Other Asian Countries” in Yahoo! Voices on August 14, 2011: http://goo.gl/7Ij0c