Thursday, July 07, 2011

Delivering real aid results virtually

The Australian Government has released "An Effective Aid Program for Australia: Making a real difference—Delivering real results". This is a response to an "Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness". The review mentioend education five times in its summary and specifically recommend the use of new media:

Public engagement should be improved through a new community grants scheme, embracing new media technologies and promoting development education.

From: Recommendation 38, Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness, 6 July 2011

The government response has education in two of its ten objectives:

3. enabling more children, particularly girls, to attend school for a longer and better education so they have the skills to build their own futures and, in time, escape poverty ...

4. empowering women to participate in the economy, leadership and education because of the critical untapped role of women in supporting development ...

An Effective Aid Program for Australia: Making a real difference—Delivering real results, Australian Government, 6 July 2011

review also recommended "Partnerships with multilateral and non–government organizations" (Recommendation 15). The government response reflects this:

"... We will increase support for multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI), and United Nations development agencies that we assess as being efficient and effective ...

We will also make greater use of multilateral partners, civil society, and Australian non-government organisations to deliver our assistance, particularly in regions where they have a greater capacity to deliver results for poor people than we do ..."

However, the Australian Government does not appear to have taken up the reviews idea of the use of new media technologies. The government appears to be still think that to deliver an aid program they have to send aid workers to the filed and that this infrastructure needs to be replicated for each country involved. Particularly in the case of education, this may not be necessary, nor the most effective way to deliver aid.

Developing nations are bypassing the conventional public sector wired telecommunication networks of developed nations and introducing privately funded wireless networks. These networks can be used for education and for commerce. The Australian Government can use this infrastructure to deliver education and training directly to people in developing nations. Australia is a world leader in e-learning, having developed the Moodle free open source learning management system. Moodle is designed to deliver education in multiple languages and can be used with smart phones and tablet computers. Australian volunteers are working with Moodle on OLPC laptops for remote indigenous schools.

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