The Fourth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF4)
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R. N. Bhaskar

Educate, enlighten, empower through open source distance learning

R. N. Bhaskar

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     Last modified: October 13, 2006
     Presentation date: 11/02/2006 10:00 AM in ST Windsor B
     (View Schedule)

As developing countries try to re-affirm their ability to be counted among the best in the world, one of the most serious vulnerabilities they will confront is the quality of skill sets available with their respective populations.

Ten years ago, the problem was not so serious. Trade and tariff barriers could insulate any workforce that was unskilled and illiterate. But today, the unskilled – especially the illiterate -- workforce remains more vulnerable and a social and political nightmare.

This will hit the poor most savagely, as most well-educated members of the workforce come from higher income families. They can cope with change far more effectively, and even move up the value chain. Unless the poor are given the benefits of good and employable education, they will be far worse off than today.

But this will require confronting three challenges: (a) the proportion of good teachers and trainers, at all levels, is rapidly declining at an alarming rate; (b) the number of potential students is increasing; and (c) quality education is usually frightfully expensive.

These problems can be overcome, by using innovative solutions like open source interactive distance learning and quality content at extremely low costs.

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