Education for Agriculture and Rural Development in Low-Income Countries: Implications of the Digital Divide

May 23, 2005

International statistics show that the great majority of the world’s population remains untouched by the ICT revolution. The digital divide is partly an outcome of illiteracy and low educational quality, but it is also a constraint to the improvement of educational quality, equity, and access. With regard to the worldwide initiative Education for All, the use of ICTs has been most appropriate at higher levels of education and most cost-effective in the training of teachers and extension agents. Barriers to large-scale introduction of ICTs are not only financial and technical, but also cultural and organizational. FAO has identified ICTs and the digital divide as key issues in promoting rural development. FAO is using ICTs in various distance education projects, including rural school programs, training for farmers and farm families, and linking agricultural research and extension institutions. Five guiding principles for the development and implementation of distance education programs are listed. (SV)

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