What is ETD?

ETD promotes discussion on low-cost ICT initiatives for educational systems in developing countries. Read More

Join ETD

Become a part of the conversation. Contribute your ideas, strategies and expertise to our discussions. Join Now

Robert Lattimore: Technology in Schools is Visionary and Benefits Society

Robert Lattimore

The Educational Technology Debate is one year old this month and to celebrate, we had a Live Debate: Are Most Investments in Technology for Schools Wasted? at the World Bank offices in New Delhi, India. With six great speakers, we focused on the issues around technology implementation in educational systems of the developing world.

This is the opening remarks and initial response of Robert Lattimore, Advisory Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers India, to the question: Are most investments in technology for schools wasted?

Robert Lattimore: (download the podcast)

Hello. Thank you. I will start with a quote as well, not from Shakespeare but John Adams, and this is referring to 1700s, if you can imagine, for us forming US constitution around that time frame.

“Memorable change must be made in system of education, and knowledge become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society near to the higher. The education of a nation instead of being combined to few schools and universities for the instruction of a few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of many.”

He goes on to say that expand the education for all the people both to enlarge the happiness of life and as essential to the preservation of freedom. I just want to start off with that because that is the importance of ICT, it will continue to be relevant. It is not that potentially there is waste. There is waste in commercial process. I server a lot of commercial companies that waste, that waste everyday and they’re for profit, seeking to make a profit. ICT in schools is certainly much more visionary and much more for societal benefits.

I had a client more than 15 years ago that had a for-profit educational business and the government shut it down, tried to shut it down. He was basically teaching people who couldn’t find a job. Signed up people, used government funds, trained them and they couldn’t get a job. So the government said you are not going to get our money because it really wasn’t relevant. The worst thing that could happen is that in any educational society tries to teach something that makes their population irrelevant at the end of the day.

To learn how to use technology in today’s world is a foregone conclusion. You must know how. It is not like a casual extra. For many of us, we didn’t grow up with it so for us it has been an added skill that overtime we had to learn and but certainly as a parent I can see my children knowing how to use it. It is second nature.

India has probably the greatest number of entrepreneurs in the world I believe. The thing that is going to make these entrepreneurs in India successful I believe will be their knowledge of technology. The greatest population of young people under 25, 450 million, just a huge number. To empower them with knowledge of technology will only help them to be successful and they can start a business with very minimal investment, that they know the technology that they can access millions.

As our survey said this morning when we talked about just the couple of areas, we talked about how it breeds innovation, and innovation is one of those things that entrepreneurs seek and thrive upon and it also builds their confidence. So one of the things that we talked about was just the aspiration for technology is in demand. I think clearly the parents are making selections or making sacrifices based upon the access to ICT. Now whether it is wasted or not or whether it is as efficient or not, its the fact that it requires some level of skill is better than no level of skill.

Dr. Kelly: You are speaking against the motion. You are arguing that investment in technology in schools is worthwhile but surely as a consultant you are looking to improve the world and change things would it not take away your business if all of this technology ere wisely invested? Why are you speaking against the motion Robert?

Well I would go back to the word “most.” I know it is subjective but for most companies we help them address waste, if you will, try to help them be efficient and cost effective. I would imagine schools despite how good they are, there probably will be waste. I think the world is still imperfect, I think we still have a role in the world to play as consultant to help improve the organization.


Don’t miss a moment of the action!

Subscribe now and get the latest articles from Educational Technology Debate sent directly to your inbox.

Comments are closed.


Subscribe to ETD

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner