Creating E-quality

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Maria Beebe
Center to Bridge the Digital Divide

How do we shape global networking to ensure parity of access to quality education not only for Americans but also for Africans?


Because a widening chasm separates Africa from the U.S., Africa presents a special challenge to international cooperation and global security. Africans live in countries with diverse characteristics: sustainable development countries steadfastly making progress toward development (e.g., Ghana, Uganda, Mozambique); countries emerging from oppressive rule and struggling to consolidate political and economic gains (e.g., Nigeria); and countries mired in conflict threatening one third of the continent (e.g., Congo, Burundi). Despite the magnitude and pervasiveness of socio-economic problems, Africans are using IT increasingly not only for email and communication purposes but also to improve the effectiveness of government, as in Tanzania, and to revitalize education, as in the case of the University of Dar es Salaam.


The IT infrastructure and expertise in the U.S. provides an opportunity for transnational collaborative learning with Africans. Yet Americans are held back from realizing the potential of learning networks between Americans and Africans. Moreover, there is an increasing tendency to view education not as a public good but as a private good to be traded. Undoubtedly, there is tension between the marketplace model of education where education is completely profit-driven and the view that education is a public good. With practice outpacing policy, how do we shape e-learning so it becomes e-quality?


As global leaders, we must balance commercial transaction with reciprocal exchange as a demonstration of global consciousness. By sharing access to quality content, we can add our byte towards e-quality. By networking across continents, we can link the local with the global. We can shape the network society and make a difference in transforming the digital divide into an opportunity for international cooperation that, in turn, can lead to global security.

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