Saturday, 16 March 2013

For Low-Income Kids, Access to Devices Could Be the Equalizer | MindShift

For Low-Income Kids, Access to Devices Could Be the Equalizer | MindShift

While the race in the hardware industry is perhaps most notable amongst makers of devices such as mobile phones and tablets, a seemingly unforgotten reality remains a stark reality for many: the digital divide.

With ever smarter phones, and other 'always on' devices, the policies that govern state monopolies over broadband play a damning role for the poor who remains unconnected. This reality stared me in the face when I started to engage with my first cohort of Foundation Phase Teacher students who are part of a program to establish the first new university in South Africa since the establishment of a new democratic government in 1994. In South Africa we are faced with numerous problems and inefficiencies for various reasons. Apart from the usual political upheavals and concerns about the future of democracy in the country, none is so real as the digital divide. The cost of broadband is exceptionally high in South Africa, as compared to other developing countries. The use of mobile phones to access the myriad of online services across the Internet seems pivotal, especially for the poor. However, if access to mobile phones is a problem (especially students) then the absence of access to the Internet via any other means is catastrophic.