New solutions to old problems part 1
In past blogs we have discussed the barriers to education, why educating women is important and how organizations are using mobile phones to expand access to knowledge in the fields of health, agriculture and education. The next series of blogs will be focused on how and why Teach By Tech has developed a model of education that allows marginalized female populations around the world to access business education and attain financial literacy using mobile phones.
Access to education has plagued communities for centuries. Building schools can be expensive, finding adequate teachers can be difficult, overcoming cultural norms can be arduous. Once these challenges are met, then a new set of obstacles arises in the form of safety, school fees and opportunity cost sacrifices. The founders of Teach By Tech thought long and hard about these obstacles and how to overcome them. We made the choice to focus on the women who were not privy to education in their youth or were forced to quit education at an early age to assist their families and/or communities. These women ages 17-34 are bearing the brunt of sacrifice for their families. Each day they are engaged in informal sector employment, which often leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and/or unstable incomes. Many are self-employed providing goods and services for others in the community. Despite the constant work, most are barely breaking even. When the women are not working, they are toiling to complete their household duties- cooking, laundering, cleaning, bearing and caring for the children and caring for elders. These women are engaged in a never-ending cycle of work with little option to break free from the cycle of poverty. These are the women that we want to serve by providing them access to business education which will support their path to economic stability and financial inclusion.
There are several organizations that offer vocational training and education. These are incredible programs and benefit those that can attend the sessions. However, as stated earlier many women cannot halt their household obligations or miss out on wage earning opportunities for extended trainings. How can we serve the most vulnerable and marginalized women? How can we make business education accessible to women who already have more work than time? We looked at means of distribution in various countries. Of course, traditional classes would not solve the problem of time. MOOC’s and online educational tools, such as Khan Academy were considered, but many of the women we serve do not have access to computers or the web. Through our research we learned that “Beyond smartphone ownership, cell phone ownership more broadly is very common, with a median of 84% in emerging and developing nations owning some type of cell phone. In eight emerging and developing countries, about nine-in-ten or more own mobile phones, comparable to the 90% of Americans with cell phones.” This was the ah-ha moment for us. For people in the developing world mobile phones are much more accessible than computers.
Tune in to the next blog, to get a peek at our methodology and opportunities to volunteer or donate!
Blog post by Linnie Pawlek, founder of Teach By Tech, Inc. a 501 (c)3 organization located in Colorado, USA. To learn more about how Teach By Tech is working to make education accessible to women of the urban slums in the developing world visit our webpage: www.teachbytech.org
 “Communications Technology in Emerging and Developing Nations” http://www.pewglobal.org/2015/03/19/1-communications-technology-in-emerging-and-developing-nations/