Sunday, February 22, 2015

One website and twenty million students to change the world

Malala Yousafzai's speech to the UN ended with: "One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education First." (12 July 2013). I suggest we can honor that sentiment, and change the world, much faster with e-learning mobile Internet devices, than pens and books.

The Australian government is proposing to fund civil society organisations to counter extremist websites and social media). I have suggested this be expanded to provide e-learning in developing nations, particularly for school teachers and community leaders.

As Australia is seen to be closely aligned with the USA, it might be better to have the project funded by the Australian government, with Australian e-learning expertise, but based in Indonesia, with Indonesian teachers.

It could be in partnership with institutions such as State Islamic University of Sultan Syarif Kasim II, which I visited in 2012.

The $18m the Australian Government is proposing to spend to counter terrorism is not sufficient. I suggest be increased to $100M per year, with the aim to have twenty million on-line students. While that might sound a lot of money, it is much cheaper than supporting a military expeditionary force of hundreds of personnel and the wear and tear on billions of dollars of equipment, for an indeterminate period, fighting terrorists.

As an example the current Operation OKRA has 600 personnel in the Middle East. This consists of an Air Task Group (ATG) with 400 personnel, six F/A-18F fighter aircraft, a E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and a KC-30A Tanker Transport, also a Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) with 200 personnel. This level of resources could pay for a lot of education and, in the long term, provide a more effective counter to terrorism.

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