Computers at school not enough, study reports

Putting more computers in schools will do little to improve the quality of education in Latin America and the Caribbean unless countries invest in teacher training and educational software, according to a new study by the Inter-American Development Bank.

In spite of a recent flurry of high-quality research on the impact of information and communication technologies on education, significant uncertainty still remains about the effectiveness of these interventions in improving learning, especially in the case of very visible initiatives, such as providing computers for every child, the development bank said.

Using information and communication technologies in education can be very costly and may crowd out important alternative programs with relatively higher returns, said Alberto Chong, who coordinated the study. “It is vital for governments to conduct careful evaluations of these initiatives and, particularly, to budget enough resources to train teachers and develop adequate software for students,” he said. “Countries cannot expect that learning will improve with simply greater access to computers. Quality of use is crucial.”

The findings are detailed in the book “Development Connections: Unveiling the Impact of New Information Technologies,” which will be launched next month. The book analyzes to what degree information and communication technologies contributed to the success of 46 development projects in Latin America.

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