GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES ON EDUCATION
This report looks at Globalisation and the digital divide between Japan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and how access to technology, internet and the standard of living affects education. To inform this report a literature search was conducted to which the findings are referenced throughout. It was during the literature search where the paper “The Worldwide Digital Divide” by Pippa Norris, 2000 became of particular interest due to the references to the countries of interest Japan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, this paper will be the main source of discussion to form a critical analysis of the two contrasting countries.
“The Worldwide Digital Divide”
The Worldwide Digital Divide paper was written for the Annual Meeting of the Political Studies Association of the UK in 2000 by Pippa Norris from the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, this report is information rich and clearly identifies areas which are a cause for concern especially when focusing on opportunities in relation to a rich country and a poor country.
The Digital World
Appendix 1 shows a map of the world which identifies the number of people online (Spring 2000), the map identifies that countries such as japan, the United States of America and United Kingdom are all amongst the highest users of the internet, with approximately between 12,000,000 and 107,000,000 users. Compare this data to developing or war-torn countries such as Mexico, Iran, Pakistan and the majority of the African Continent which are of the lowest users with approximately between 0 – 1,000,000 users, it becomes clear that the digital divide is far from closing (Norris, 2000).
Although the internet has been globalised on a major scale, for it to truly take hold and cement in public engagement, the need for opportunities to access information and resources on the web is significant. For educational purposes the internet allows a student doctor in Ghana to access the same database as a student in Calcutta (Norris, 2000), this opens a magnitude of opportunities to educate individuals equally regardless of their country of residence and its status, it offers a promise to give the voiceless a voice and level out the playing field (Norris, 2000).
However, the internet can also be a very dark place, it opens opportunities for different social groups to globally push forward extremist views (Norris, 2000), where their reach was once small and localised it is now world spread with implications for global termism and mistrust. Movements such as President Donald Trump with America First and his Social Media interaction, Theresa May and the Brexit deals which are covered heavily by the media and the media’s negative image of immigration, these are not terrorism however they are escalated by the digital age and the media coverage which is so easily accessible and people especially the youngest generations become easily misled.
Basic access is required to reap the benefits of the digital aid which is where the inequality is witnessed through the divide of the rich and the poor and the opportunities in which are accessed or missed depending on the group in which the individual belongs to. International agencies like the World Bank, United Nations Development Program and International Telecommunications Union have all expressed concern that the explosion of the internet is leaving many countries behind expanding the inequality gap and dampening the work that is being done to in fact close it (Norris, 2000).
The best available information shows that countries such as the United States, Sweden and Australia are among those who have reaped the benefits of the internet allowing them to access a new economy, whereas poorer nations such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Middle East have failed to reap such benefits, meaning the gap between the information rich and the information poor has increased over recent years (OECD, 1999). It is shown that there are more users in Sweden than the whole of the African Continent (Norris, 2000).
This information led to further research due to no readings on the Numbers Online Map (Appendix 1) for Greenland, the South Pole, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was clear that the information for South Pole and Greenland is due to the population being very small compared to other countries, South Pole in the Summer has a population of approximately 4000 while Greenland has a population of around 56,186 (Nua, 2016) compared to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with an approximate population of 79,722,624(Livestats, 2016), it is interesting to look at why information was not collected from Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on further investigation it seems that Ivory Coast had trouble start in 1999, when the President Heiri Konan Bedie was overthrown from Power by a Military Coup, from there Laurent Gbagbo became president following a controversial election, not long after this the historical peaceful country burst into civil war over conflicts in relation to religion in 2002 (BBC, 2018) It could be that due to the events taking place in the Ivory Coast that the information was unobtainable, however there is no evidence to back up this claim it is more speculation. Looking at the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the way in which it is run by the leader Joseph Kalibo, and the ongoing War between the Congolese Yakutumba Militia (Kemp, 2015) and the Ugandan Islamist Rebels of the Allied Democratic Force (ADF), the fact that women and children are rapped often, genital female mutilation is carried out frequently, homes are destroyed and children forced to fight made for disturbing yet interesting reading and ignited the need for further research, the decision was made to further investigate the Democratic Republic of the Congo and look at contrasting high achieving country Japan. Data will be analysed looking at the standard of living, the education system and access to the internet and digital devices.
Japan has a population total of 126,451,398 (NCEE, 2018) out of this there are a total of 115,111,595 internet users residing in Japan, this relates to 91.1% of Japans population (Livestats, 2016) Japan is number 5 on the league table for internet usage with China being at the top of the board.
Japan has developed over the centuries after rebelling against the corrupt government in 1868 and founded new trade treaties with western communities, Japan found their feet with Technology and Finance (NCEE, 2018).
The NCEE believe that Japan were among the first bench markers for global education after visiting western capitals, the Japanese knew that in order to achieve and to eradicate corruption they would need an education system that would play a vital part to achieving their goals (2018).
The Japanese borrowed ideas from England, Germany and France and the United States, they then fused them together to design a unique education system to which influenced Japans values heavily (NCEE, 2018). Being a Teacher in Japan holds one of the highest status’ and is paid very well. Literacy in Japan is world class. The Education System in Japan is strict, and all children are expected to achieve.
Access to opportunity in Japan depends on your attitude and ability to put in a tremendous amount of effort, the family as a whole along with the student’s teacher will help to push the individual to make sure that they achieve, if the student fails to achieve, this brings shame onto the family, especially the mother and also the child’s teacher. Once in employment most employees are expected to spend almost all their career in one field/company, becoming masters in their chosen career (NCEE, 2018).
Students in Japan are taught about other countries and are expected to learn about the history, economy and geography of different countries often being able to recite more information about a country than those born there. Employers in Japan are more interested in the general intelligence of the applicant than qualifications, how well they perform, and problem solve in real life situations is seen as more beneficial. Those students who are seen as being ahead of their peers are expected to help those less fortunate, the internet and access plays a big part in the life of a Japanese student, they will often finish school and spend hours researching and revising in their chosen mastery subject.
It is clear that the Japanese education system I one of the best in the world with outcomes for the students and families clear however not all children have the same outcomes and wealth plays a big part in which children succeed and which children do not however this is not a large number compared to the contrasting country Democratic Republic of the Congo where the lives of the children are very different however Japan has a high suicide rate within the young generation and it is believed that the high expectations and fear of shaming the family play a huge part (NCEE, 2018).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo has a Population of Approximately 79,722,624 with only 3,101,210 said to have access to the internet at home (Livestats, 2016). The Democratic Republic of the Congo is 92ndon the league table for internet usage compared to Japan who are 5ththis shows very clear the difference between the internet usage between the two countries.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has long been a place of War and Violence, the country is terrorised around Goma by the Militia fighting for control of minerals. There are two groups that are in constant conflict and rain terror on communities, the Congolese Yakutumba Militia and the Ugandan Islamist Rebels of the Allied Democratic Force (ADF).
It is believed that only 29% of children who live in the DR Congo complete primary school, this is due to child labour and cost of education. The inequalities between the rich and the poor are evident throughout the country (Bashir, 2009)
Although the DR Congo has access to the internet, it is not clear what level of quality the connection is or the devices in which the people have access to. It is believed that during times of protest the President Joseph Kalibo cuts off the countries access to the internet to disrupt communications to diffuse rising tensions (Hilbert, 2016).
The disadvantaged population may have some access to the internet however their devices may be poor quality meaning the bandwidth in which they can access will be slow effecting the quality of information or usage to which the population can receive. This increases the difficulties in education even at home (Hilbert, 2016).
In 1994 the Militia carried out genocide killing more than 1 million people, with the belief that they were ethnically cleansing the Tutsi. To gain power over those who were left the Militia terrorised the villages, part of the strategy to enact their power is to use rape as a weapon (Kemp, 2015).
These tribes still run to this day, families are terrorised in their own homes for no reason other than to make sure that the Militia have power over minerals and labour. Women and Children are rapped some even by their own fathers who are forced and then killed by the Militia.
DR Maqugai runs a hospital for those who have suffered the trauma of rape or genital mutilation at the hands of the Militia warriors. Not only do the women and children suffer these horrendous acts they are then disowned by their communities and are forced to leave their homes. Dr Maqugai takes in the individuals in need, they begin to get an education to be able to improve outcomes however the villages in and around Goma remain unsafe (Kemp2015).
The government army recruit children to fight, the militia recruit children, these can be as young as 10 years old and are taught to hold a weapon and to fight against men, when a child is taught this type of violence at such a young age, it is all they know and the only way in which they know how to survive.
It is heart breaking to contemplate the lives of children in the DR Congo, not only to they live in a developing country, they have the constant fear of danger in the most horrific ways, their parents are murdered before them, they are expected to work instead of being educated. The thought of sustainable education in a country such as the DR Congo is practically impossible in their current state, meaning the gap of inequality and missed opportunities is forever growing.
While conducted the research to inform this report it is clear that there are still countries that have a much bigger divide than others, although the digital age is well and truly on the way, the poorer war-torn countries with dictator leaderships have a very long way to come before they reap the benefits of such a system.
The Japanese government have a high success rate when it comes to education, however the wellbeing of the students is sometimes questionable, it would be a recommendation for the Japanese government to look at the pressure implications on the students, however commendations are also needed as the idea of mastery in chosen subjects is a welcome thought, as long as students are able t choose these subjects independently without pressure from family to succeed in a high quality profession rather than a profession that speaks to the heart of the student.
In the DR Congo, until the government are able to completely control the country and make sure they are safeguarding every individual the thought of sustainable education is impossible. A child cannot learn in an environment to which they are frightened and uncertain, regardless of whether they have access to the internet or not.
Access to the internet might be a blessing or it might help to dampen the spirit if young people more to see, those who are of the same age from more fortunate backgrounds and compare themselves and their outcomes.
It is up to the world as a whole to acknowledge what is happening in these countries and look towards a better world. It is not acceptable for developed countries to send money to governments thinking they are helping to aid these places without checking where at what the money is aiding, it is simply not enough to send aid and hope for the best. However there is no quick sure answer as to how to fix the problem, only education, acceptance and equality can help the world heal and become a better place.
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(Appendix 1 Attached)