TED Conversations

Qamar Riaz

Deputy Director Audit , Auditor General of Pakistan

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Universal Network of Education

Today, mankind has invented live and interactive video links to vend values across borders. Incredible storage space for data, swift communication through satellite links, globally available computer chips and communities to work for same cause. If all this technology development and community mobilization is employed to develop a Universal Network of Education the goal of “Education for All” can be realized.
If we can generate similar universal learning activities(Say a-z coaching classes) at the base which produce identical out puts (Virtual Videos) and these outputs ensure single outcome (better learning) the goal (education for all ) can be contributed significantly.
Lets see the above logic of idea to a much smaller scale such as town. If we go down to a town level where say 20000 kids are out of school somewhere in third world. We aim to develop a Town Education Network, Where a town owned community school is run by a Town Educational Committee, All resources are put into a pool to transmit this school live on local tv, internet etc. If only 2000 people ensure identification and registration of only 10 kids each on this local network, the target becomes so easy to achieve. The community ensures every kid is registered with this local network and an independent assessment committee evaluates the students through on line tests. This may sound achievable for local community. All such communities will be linked to national network and all national networks will be plugged into regional networks and finally these make a universal education network.
I propose this as a solution for millions of kids who are out of school right now and this online universal school may help UN to achieve its MDG of Education for All by 2015 by enrolling every kid to this universal school with the help of community.
A global virtual conference may be starting step towards Universal Education Declaration.


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  • Jul 13 2013: I just read a news report that a girl from Pakistan; Malala Yousafzai, has given a speech in the UN, For her goal of promoting girls' education in Pakistan. I feel sad that such an obvious good goal and policy had to be be raised by a 16 year old girl who had suffered greatly for her opinion. I am all for such proposal or the endeavor to establish the networks.
    A more practical approach would be a network of district entities which will mange the TV/internet channels to broadcast such education curriculum AND MANAGE THE TESTING AND CERTIFICATION OF SUCH PROGRAMS. The teaching materials can be easily collected or modified from outside sources with broadcasting teaching experiences, and translated into appropriate languages, if necessary, by the local groups. Of course, the local group should design/write certain materials which are unique for the country or the region.
    Finally, let me say a few words about the freedom of speech and education in a democracy. The citizens must not be deterred by terrorists for the sake of improvement of education and human rights. All free citizens have to stand up to the pressure like Malala did, otherwise there could be no hope.
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      Jul 13 2013: In Pakistan, state of education is in dismay. The gravity of situation can be traced in alarming indicators of education reported back in late nineties. According to the 1998 provincial population census reports, the school age population of the age group 5-9 years was more than 20 million. Of this about 11 million (57%) never attended school (Memon, 2007). After 14 years those 11 million illiterate are now the feed of Pakistan’s labor markets. This presents a bleak picture of productivity and human capital for knowledge industry. Recent research indicates that 25 million children are out of school and yet 7 million children have to receive any formal education. If these children are not identified and educated, in coming ten years Pakistan will bear the burden of unproductive and unskilled labor force.
      We completely support Malala and committed to bring change through our innovative education network. We need your valuable support and guidance to develop this project.
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      Jul 14 2013: This sounds to me like a normal classroom, broadcasting a program because of a lack of teachers or funding.
      • Jul 15 2013: That's exactly what I meant in my post. You must understand that it is impossible for the Pakistan government or private businesses to finance such large number of schools within a short period (so that many poor people can afford to have their children to learn, actually to reach a high school graduate level, not university level), through electronic media. I personally don't advocate that university or professional school education can be done in this way.
        This arrangement would be better managed by at least consolidating the media equipments and keeping some record of attendance than broadcasting the programs into individual homes which may not be reachable without someone to donate such equipments to most of the homes.
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          Jul 15 2013: I agree with you Bart, in that financing is a problem for a very proportion of the world, and I have something in mind. I haven't figured out all the details yet.

          The goals I'm setting are:
          1. no classroom attendance required
          2. No teacher required
          3. Learn at your own pace
          4. measurable results
          5. offer variety
          6. extremely interesting so that the child or adult will be motivated to continue once introduced
          7. Covers k-12 levels in English, Regional language, Math, History, Geography, Biology, Zoology, Chemistry, Physics, Life skills, Human Rights, computer science. (to be expanded when possible)

          My first thought was to have a single really addictive online game like Everquest to cover a person's whole education. But I can't program, so other than suggesting it to the right people, there's nothing I can personally do to realize it.

          What I can do is to find the nearest approximation.
          The resources already available are: Curriculum standards that are pretty much standard world wide, TV shows, apps, computer games, you tube videos.

          I can compile collections of these in order and put together modules of a year, a month, a week and put them online. Khan academy has this started already, but I would expand it. people have different perspectives, so having 3 or 4 different explanations by different people might help. also format such as tv shows, games need to be included for each concept. The games are actually practice exercises aren't they.

          With this base, get some help finding funding to put these on memory cards, pen drives, cell phones, talk to the one laptop per child guy about distributing computers through us without established classrooms.

          Establish testing centers/ lending libraries in areas where internet access is restricted and in poor neighborhoods.

          Having classrooms would of course be great, but as we have seen in cases such as Malala, it may not always be safe. That's why I say no requirement of having a particular place to go.

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