They say education is the key to success and it’s clear many states firmly embrace that view given its priority in many national budgets. More can always be done however, to both improve the state of things and even cut costs. In this vein, the island of Barbados has announced a new initiative seeking to phase out the use of physical textbook starting from 2017. The aim is to have most, if not all textbooks stored and accessible electronically on devices such as the Kindle or Android Tablets. This is more than plausible, particularly given the rapid rise of digital publishing and reader friendly tablets being released yearly.
The Advantages of an ICT Driven Education System
With each passing year the cost of such devices decreases while the available power in each one continues to increase, making it more and more affordable as time goes by. At the price of a tablet, students can have access to a digital ‘e-portal’; a profile made for and linked specifically to their name and personal information much the same as is done for university students.
On this e-portal, they can easily access whatever textbooks they need as part of a rental programme. This would undoubtedly save funds frequently exhausted in state run textbook initiatives due to damage or lost physical textbooks whilst easing some costs incurred on the average student as well.
In fact, as reported by the Trinidad Express, there is growing dissatisfaction with the burdensome load many students, particularly the very young primary school students, need to tote back and forth each day. It was stated that in some cases bags could exceed a weight of 12 kilograms and not only could this damage smaller children but it was also just simply ridiculous in hindsight.
Some suggest lockers or storage for some textbooks to be kept in school but what then is to occur if a child requires a textbook for a homework assignment? In the interest of convenience the most feasible solution would obviously be digital textbooks as suggested by the Barbadian Ministry of Education. Some argue that they grew up trudging along with the heavy loads so why shouldn’t others?
Well to that point I ask, didn’t some people grow up walking miles to get to school each day? Should we then deny public transportation to contemporary youths so they’ll share the same experience? I think not.
Digital solutions in the Caribbean
Would it not be greatly beneficial in the long term if Caribbean nations strove to fully modernize their educational systems towards a more ICT friendly direction? This isn’t called the Digital Age for no reason and better, IT-oriented citizens who even have a basic grasp of programming, hardware, and software development can contribute and break ground in economic sectors. Regardless, the pros outweigh the cons and in lieu of this other regional governments might want to consider a similar move when it comes to education policy.