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ICTs in non-formal education in Asia Pacific
Anita Dighe, Hameed A. Hakeem, and Sheldon Shaeffer
Although education is a basic human right, there are millions of individuals who have not been provided an opportunity for schooling and other means to become literate. It is for this reason that non-formal education (NFE) programs for out-of-school youth and adults have been promoted in most countries of the world. In many countries, NFE forms an integral part of the official programs of basic education, often with independent organizational arrangements as well as a program budget and portfolio of activities.
Over the last two decades, rapid economic, social, and technological changes have taken place globally. Economists acknowledge that, increasingly, knowledge and technology are playing a significant role in what is termed as the ‘knowledge economy’. A linked development, sometimes called the ‘information society’, is taking place due to the advent and spread of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in varying degrees, through all the countries of the world. But while educational applications of technology would be made available to school-based programs, there is a strong possibility that due to scarce resources, the poorest and the marginalized groups will remain excluded in this kind of provisioning. Thus, there is a real danger that with the growing importance of ICTs in knowledge-based societies, groups with little or no literacy will fall further behind those who are literate, and the existing literacy gap will grow even wider. Undoubtedly, this would exacerbate the problem of the digital divide.
NFE has a critical role to play in reaching marginalized groups, and ICTs are a tool in the effective performance of this role. The present chapter critically examines the progress made and the lessons learnt in the use of ICTs in non-formal education in the Asia Pacific region.