A major new Research on the impact of education programmes in lower and middle-income countries has revealed that computer-assisted learning, widely regarded as one of the most effective and forward-thinking classroom tools, does not improve learning outcomes in all contexts.
The study follows concerns that improvements in children’s school enrolment rates have slowed down considerably over the past decade.
More than a quarter of a billion school-age children are not currently in any formal education, according to Unesco figures, a much higher figure than previously estimated.
Birte Snilstveit, a Senior Evaluation Specialist for the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) who co-authored the report, said: “We find that just providing free computers and textbooks does not always improve learning outcomes.
“Our interpretation of this is not that children don’t need computers or textbooks to learn, but that many of these programmes have been poorly designed or poorly implemented. Simply put, spending money on computers and materials will not solve a growing global education crisis, experts have warned.
“Textbooks and computers and building schools – these are things that are quite visible to the public and may receive funding more easily. But such resources need to be integrated with the curriculum, provided in a language children understand and combined with training for teachers on how to incorporate new materials in their teaching.”
Part of the UN’s sustainable development goals state that by 2030, all girls and boys should complete a free, high-quality primary and secondary education system.
On current trends, however, it is believed that universal primary education will be achieved in 2042, all children of lower secondary school age will have schooling in 2059 and upper secondary schooling will not be universally available until 2084.
World leaders attending a UN General Assembly last month were urged to better address the growing education crisis, particularly in war-torn and underdeveloped countries.