Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Promoting Proper Education for Sustainability: An Exploratory Study of ICT Enhanced Problem Based Learning in a Developing Country

Academic journal article International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology

Promoting Proper Education for Sustainability: An Exploratory Study of ICT Enhanced Problem Based Learning in a Developing Country

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

The key purpose of education is to prepare young people to meet the various challenges of life. The role of education as a vehicle for social transformation has been endorsed by philosophers such as Jiddu Krishnamurti and John Dewey. Psychologists, e.g. Gardner, refer to school as "the institution designed to change minds" (Dewey 1997; Krishnamurti 2002; Gardner 2006). Proper education, which fosters understanding about one's society and its problems, can encourage personal transformation which, in-turn, can contribute towards a balanced and healthy social structure.

When education fails to provide opportunities for learners to connect abstract knowledge with their actual world; it only promotes inert learning. Learning which is aimed only at achieving academic results promotes narrow and individualistic activities and corresponding world views among the students. Without enabling personal transformation [through education], social reformations are susceptible to corruption (McWhittney & Markos 2003). Educational anthropologist, Ruth Benedict, argued that education is transformative as it can begin to resolve cultural issues by surveying "the major wastages in our culture" (Nash 1974).

School is an important cultural construct and therefore it is only sensible to promote proper education about social issues through schools (Schooling the world 2010). Mannheim strongly advocated that schools should cease to concentrate on "purely scholastic traditions" and that they should rather aim to "embody and impart humanisation qualities" among young people as schools are "uniquely qualified" to prepare pupils for life (Lawton 1975). Providing proper education regarding social issues at school level can help to make future citizens more responsible.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) holds forth that learning about issues of social importance is an important educational objective (UNESCO 2007; UN DES A 2005). School level initiatives such as Design for Change (DfC), which started out as a local initiative but has grown to global proportions within a few years with several thousand schools participating in its competitions (Design for Change 2012), bears evidence to the fact that school children feel connected to those problems that originate in their local contexts. Social problems can be used to create an opportunity for students to take responsibility for their transformation and to create a social change, even if it is a small one.

Proper education about social issues facilitates expert knowledge about social issues, nurtures the ability to think critically and supports learners in the development of skills needed to find solutions. Despite strong theoretical support, proper education about social issues does not readily take place in schools, especially not in developing countries. Educational administrators' inability to provide such proper education meaningfully is founded on two pragmatic problems: (1.) The severe lack of available teachers in developing countries (Olson et al. 2011; Tooley 2009) and (2.) most teachers are engrossed with meeting academic goals and they often lack the time, interest, support, capability or hands-on experience to facilitate the handling of actual issues of social importance (Tooley 2009).

When faced with their own limitations, humans often try to solve their problems through techniques and technology. Modern technologies e.g. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are often seen as a promising solution to overcome deficiencies in educational systems (Kozma 2005). However, ICT projects have continued to underperform in developing countries (Day & Greenwood, 2009). ICTs are not even explored as a viable option by many because of the high costs combined with unsure returns on investment. Many ICT based solutions have been noted to contain linguistic codes, cultural assumptions, social images and Western/European notions that underpin the choice of what constitutes desirable knowledge (Selinger 2009; Cox 2012). …

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