Funding for Arts and Technology Education in the Developing World
While much of the focus for developing nations is on the fundamentals of health, nutrition and infrastructure (and for good reason), there is a lot to be said for the introduction of arts and technology programs throughout the developing world. Many citizens of those countries do have their basic needs met, and adding on a layer of both culture and technology, science and humanities, can give them an extra leg up in becoming a more fully functional community.
Famously this has been attempted by “One Laptop per Child“, a lofty goal to provide “each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop”. So far they have made progress to about 2.5 million children in Latin America, Africa and elsewhere, although they have also been subject to much criticism on various areas, such as cost, lack of support, and their top down approach.
The reasoning is somewhat obvious. One early supporter equated having computers in labs and community centers as libraries where the books were chained to the wall. Being able to bring laptops home allows families to have a consistent window to the outside world, a place for children to engage in games and other educational features during down time, and doesn’t limit access based on transportation or other restrictions that community centers do.
And it doesn’t stop at science either. One of the biggest uses of technology is to enable to creation and consumption of art. Equipment like printers, laptops and tablets for artists can enable drawing without the need for paper and coloring equipment, sharing of artwork on the web and reaching a global audience, consumption of both art and art critiques that can provide important context and guidance as young artists find their grasp in the world.
All this being said, the critique of a lack of support is important. Think if you gave you great grandmother a computer, but never answered her calls for technical support, and didn’t give any ongoing guidance. No doubt the computer would end up collecting dust in the attic. It’s similar with giving technology to the developing world, as their isn’t the necessary infrastructure (such as ubiquitous internet connection) to facilitate “self-help”.
For this reason it’s important to combine any technology distribution initiative with a supportive education initiative that will provide guidance, classes, technical support, as well as inspiration for the uses of of the technology. Think of the equipment as the foundation, or seed, but we need to built upon that in order for it to have a full effect.
Just my two cents…
Image provided by One Laptop Per Child.