I saw Nick Negroponte’s name on a conference program the other day and felt very nostalgic. Those were the good old days, just give all those kids a laptop in the developing world and they would automatically enter the digital age. Well, I am not quite sure that has all worked out as planned, but I think the ubiquitous cell phone has become the more versatile hand-held tool for learners of all ages, and sexes. Maybe the biggest challenge still remains at the schoolhouse door, where colonial concepts of learning still prevail inside traditional classroom settings.
The bigger issue might very well be whether the school building is where learning really takes place in these parts of the world at this time in history. It seems as if the cell phone may becoming the more empowering tool for economic and political development around the world. And women can get to play a bigger part if given the chance and resources. This is obviously not a unique situation in terms of who gets to play with all the electronic “toys” first, but it should be understood as presenting broader economic opportunity for women and girls around the world in the twenty-first century.
What if we sent our old cell phones to women and girls in the developing world in support of improved economic development. Think of it as new type of foreign aid?