Education is everybody’s right, but at what cost?

Everyday I realize that the masses in South Africa are still devoid of a proper education. Teaching isn’t a glamorous profession where teachers are respected, handed apples by the students after class and paid a decent salary at the end of the month anymore. If anything, teaching is a profession where only the bravest and most steadfast souls tread.

And yet, even with this severe disrespect that the teachers get, children and parents still demand an education for the youth. But even after receiving their education, children claim that it is “no longer relevant” to them. 

No disrespect to the teachers, but I agree with the children. It might seem harsh but bear with me. Currently the education system in South Africa is heavily reliant on printed media being delivered to the school in a timely fashion, and all the information is only current as soon as the book is printed. 

But as seen as recently as three months ago, books are not necessarily delivered on time (http://mg.co.za/article/2012-08-10-00-still-no-books-despite-departmental-progress-reports), and after a year or so a lot of the information might be outdated or even wrong depending on discoveries and research made in those particular fields. I remember working out of books that were so old that the information might have been translated from hieroglyphics! 

Technology has allowed children to start teaching themselves at a young age, and just by handing children a tablet, they can easily teach themselves. In India, for instance, tablets were handed to children in a rural village, and within months they were able to teach themselves the letters of the English alphabet (http://qz.com/26244/how-a-20-tablet-from-india-could-finish-off-pc-makers-educate-billions-and-transform-computing-as-we-know-it). It might seem like an everyday thing to you and me, but these kids never had interaction with higher forms of technology before this, and there are no teachers to help them learn. 
These tablets are also extremely cheap at only $40 (about R350 in South African Rand), and thus, with a little bit of monetary funding from the government, these tablets can be available for even cheaper to underprivileged students. 

E-books can be written and published for download on the student’s tablets, the whole curriculum can be made available on a single device that weighs no more than any regular school book, and children who no longer receive a relevant education will have access to the latest and greatest teaching tool that has ever been created:
The Internet.

In the short term, it might be slightly more expensive to get the tablets to students, but unlike books, the tablets do not become outdated in terms of information. The newest information is always available on the internet, and a higher level of education can be reached by all. Tablets can also be used year after year during a child’s school years. And the cost of getting new material that is needed to study for the rest of the year? Ten minutes of time to download a few megabytes of data, and possibly a small fee towards the publisher of the e-book. 

In conclusion, in order to raise the standard of education in a country, the technology that makes it possible needs to be embraced. The children of today will be the adults of tomorrow, and to build a better and more intelligent society that works towards improving itself in the future we need to raise the standard of education among everyone today.

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