Intel helps Vietnam bring education to the masses

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Intel helps Vietnam bring education to the masses

Hanoi (Vietnam) – Today, Dr. Nguyen Thien Nhan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education and Training (MOET), Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Dr. Craig Barrett, Intel Corporation Chairman, signed an agreement to modernize Vietnam’s education system by 2011 by making one million “affordable PCs” available over the next two years from local technology companies to all teachers, along with broadband Internet access.

In addition to the hardware, Intel is sponsoring a contest to create e-learning content. The idea is to stimulate the creation of up to one million “unique learning applications”, evaluation for a winner will be conducted by a jury board and educational experts. The winner will be announced by the end of this year.

Dr. Barrett and Dr. Nguyen both expressed a shared vision “of accelerating Vietnam’s [Internet Communications Technology] adoption in key sectors, including education, as a cornerstone of the country’s strategy for sustained competitiveness in the global knowledge economy. The initiatives they announced represent the acceleration of an agreement Intel and the MOET made in 2007 to increase technology access that advances the quality of education in Vietnam.

We recognize the value of a technology-enabled learning environment where education is student-centric, and where learning is collaborative and connected,” stated Dr. Nguyen. “Public-private partnerships, such as those between the MOET and Intel, have strong potential to unlock a nation’s talent for sustained competitiveness. We believe today’s announcements represent significant cornerstones of Vietnam’s future success through technology-enabled education.”

“Education is the foundation of a knowledge-based economy,” said Dr. Barrett. “Nations that invest in education and technology as engines of growth are better positioned to participate in the global economy. With trained teachers, local e-learning content, connectivity to the world’s resources, and PCs – Vietnam’s youth will have an opportunity to realize the potential of its ideas.”

See Intel’s press release.

Opinion

It’s not enough. Huge companies like Intel should be coming out calling for free, universal, worldwide education given unto everybody over the Internet. With the state of today’s technology it is possible.

We need to educate our kids, and we have technology that would enable us to do it without killing ourselves financially in the process.

Cable companies like Comcast already have technology in place, and they’re making a profit from what they have. They can expand that base, as can the other providers, reaching out to every home and providing low-cost broadband Internet to everybody, for less than it costs today even because at that point everybody would have it. They can pay for the infrastructure by the, perhaps even mandatory Internet access everybody must receive.

In addition, companies like YouTube and those who will stream live video for educational purposes, can introduce some user-controls which enable us to determine what bandwidth we want for audio and video. If a class is mostly a lecture, for example, it doesn’t need to provide constant streaming video. In fact, that’s silly. Maybe some key frames here and there would be enough, or even very low-quality streaming video at 1/4 the bandwidth. I’m sure some open-source project out there exists to capture appropriate frames in video streams for this type of variable-frame video encoding.

There are ways to address these problems, and if they don’t exist today they can be thought out. But the reality is we have the technology to do this, and our kids are depending on us. Why would we not do it simply for financial reasons? So what if companies don’t make huge profits. People would benefit. And besides that, many people will still want to go to physical schools — and while the schools themselves might make less money because there will be more “competition” against their fee-based learning offerings, the reality is far more PEOPLE will be served.

I ask you … which is more important? Profits or people?

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