Education is a privilege, and one of the world’s greatest equalizers. With an education, a person has access to opportunities that would otherwise have been denied them. Background does not and should not matter when it comes to learning. Therefore, it is somewhat shocking to learn to learn that more than 250 million children worldwide do not attend school, and that the majority of those have no access to it.
Since the first-world outlook on teaching and learning revolves mainly around the rudimentary teacher-classroom approach, this is a difficult issue to solve. With the advent of technology, however, greater strides are being made in the race to provide educational opportunities to children all around the world. The fact is, not all teaching comes from a classroom; children and adults alike are constantly honing new skills, especially when it comes to technology. The gadgets available nowadays are evolving at a rate that could not have been foreseen as recently as the turn of the century, with human minds adapting to the shift. It makes sense to put these changes to good use, and use whatever technology is available in order to provide learning to children in less fortunate circumstances.
Venture capitalist Ong Peng Tsin, who founded Match.com in the 1990s, has already taken advantage of this opportunity. His latest invention, a smartphone-based educational system, is currently undergoing trials in Southeast Asia, where the tech boom has already taken firm hold. Solve Education, as the application is called, utilizes educational games, social challenges, and incentives with lessons that are applicable in everyday life, not just within the framework of the system.
While its teacher-less model has raised ire from some corners—teachers continue to make an invaluable contribution to society, and could never be altogether replaced—Solve Education has the ability to reach a far larger platform. The reality of building enough schools and providing enough teachers for all the children who are not currently attending school would be a virtual impossibility. What Ong has done is provided them with a virtual school experience instead.
Further, technology as a means of education is a useful tool in and of itself, as these students have to learn certain basic skills just to use the platform. This could lead to more young people entering the STEM workforce, which would only benefit society as a whole. While Ong’s solution may not be perfect, it is a step in the right direction.