The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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Judith Soares

Women and ICT for Open and Distance Learning: Some Formal and Non-Formal Approaches, Experiences and Strategies from the Caribbean

Judith Soares
University of the West Indies, Barbados

Michael L. Thomas
University of West Indies, Barbados

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     Last modified: July 18, 2006
     Presentation date: 11/02/2006 4:15 PM in ST Windsor B
     (View Schedule)

This paper explores some issues related to the involvement of women in formal and non-formal open and distance learning initiatives in the Anglophone Caribbean. It offers that non-formal distance learning, through the use of information communication technology i.e. learning for non-academic, personal and social development must be considered as integral to the education of the peoples of the Caribbean. We focus here on the case of rural women in the small remote community of Fancy, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

While we recognise the importance of distance learning as a tool to broaden access to formal academic certification for women in the region, we also argue that distance learning is equally important in non-formal education by providing access to information to rural women in the interest of personal development, broadening their knowledge base, developing their skills and techniques in various areas of agriculture and, hence, the economic base of their community. Essentially, then, open and distance learning, through the use of ICT contribute to personal and social growth and development.

In the context of the Caribbean, it is our view that some of the critical ways to overcome barriers and shortcomings of women’s participation in community and national development lie in promoting equal access for rural women to scientific and technological areas, enhancing literacy and providing opportunities for increased technological training. Also, with the predominance of women in the community and household decision making, their grasp of indigenous and local resources and lifestyle along with modern and relevant techniques of production are critical for sustainable livelihoods.

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