Let’s restate the obvious just so we’re on the same page: One of the largest global challenges facing us today is worldwide poverty. Education is a key to wiping out global poverty, and adult education is a significant part of that equation.
Recent UNESCO data shows that just two more years of adult education (adults being learners 15 years of age and older) would help to lift almost 60 million people above the poverty level. If all the world’s adult population completed a good program of primary and secondary education, more than 420 million people would be above the poverty level, effectively cutting the global poverty count by more than 50 per cent.
OECD figures deepen this picture. They inform that on average, worldwide, 21 per cent of those aged 25 and above have not completed secondary education. Regarding tertiary education (university, college, advanced vocational training), just 44.5 per cent of adults between 25-34 have such degrees or certificates.
So, why don’t countries invest in adult education?
Actually, they do, and a lot.
The UNESCO 4th Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (ALE) found that there has been some improvement. Of the countries surveyed, roughly 67 per cent (⅔) reported progress in their ALE policies. (page 23)
Participation in these ALE programs was up, too, in more than 50 per cent of these countries. Unfortunately, this increased participation is uneven. Only 15 per cent of these countries had participation rates of more than 50 per cent. Great as that is, it means that just half of their adults are getting the education they need. The other countries’ participation rates were lower—so even more uneducated adults. (page 22)
But it’s not just the level of ALE participation.
For an ALE education program to be successful, it must be of sufficient quality.
The good news is that there has been improvement with 75 per cent of the UNESCO Report countries reporting progress in their curricula, teaching methods, and assessment. Yet, again, the progress has been uneven, and 25 per cent of countries have still not made any progress whatsoever. (page 24)
What if there was a way to put quality, adult education in the hands of the adults themselves?
Fortunately, there is: crowdsourced libraries.
In the same way as crowdfunding for startups pools financial help, crowdsourcing for libraries pools information. In other words, the idea that together, many contributors can create a massive amount of educational material. And similarly to crowdfunding, this information will be online in digital form.
Crowdsourced libraries are powerful.
By combining the resources of many contributors, such libraries can achieve goals which no single library would have the financial or staff resources to accomplish. This includes a wealth of quality knowledge previously unavailable.
They are more inclusive.
The purpose of a local library is to serve the local community. As a result, information is usually available in the local language. Depending on what that is, this may limit the quantity and/or quality of available material.
A crowdsourced library is the world’s “local” library. Since they pull from broader populations, crowdsourced libraries can offer more information about more topics in more languages. And if the material you need is not in your language, since it is digital, you can use an online translation tool to get a fairly good idea of what is being said.
Crowdsourced libraries are more accessible.
Online libraries are available to anyone with a smartphone. Currently, that is roughly 3.5 billion people, almost half of the world’s population (45.4 per cent). This means that about 5 out of every 10 people have direct access to the library. Chances are, non-smartphone owners will be able to borrow the smartphone of a relative or friend.
Also, crowdsourced libraries are always open. Any time of the day or night, no matter what social distancing rules are in effect, the library is available. Users don’t have much travel time, either—just the amount of time it takes them to get to their smartphones and click on the link.
Crowdsourced libraries are open to all.
While they may have been started with one type of adult education in mind, crowdsourced libraries are available to people of any age and any goal. This includes organizations of all kinds (companies, non-profits, educational institutions, government offices, etc.). In other words, crowdsourced libraries provide material for anyone interested in digital microlearning, especially using a mobile phone.
Crowdsourcing Education – Where do we fit in?
EdApp is on a mission. We wanted to use our knowledge and expertise in mobile microlearning to help individuals and small businesses upskill themselves or further their education.
So, we’ve created a joint initiative with UNITAR (the United Nations Institute for Training and Research) named #EducateAll. Educate All aims to increase global access to free, high-quality and impactful education through a free, comprehensive library of world-class, fully editable content.
Only a smartphone away, Educate All has benefits for many groups such as students of any level, parents and children who are homeschooling or do not have access to public education, residents of developing countries, and large organizations whose employees need further training.