Dissecting the Digital Divide : A Case Study in Egypt

          In this article, a professor at the University Of California, named Mark Warschauer aims to critique the term ‘Digital Divide’, while covering the complications through a case study situated in Egypt.

          The term ‘Digital Divide’ refers to the comparison of distinctive social groups, particularly the marginalized ones and their access to digital resources, for example: The internet.  Warschauer brought a very important point to my attention, while stating ‘the stratification that does exist regarding access to online information has very little to do with the Internet per se, but has everything to do with political, economic, institutional, cultural, and linguistic contexts that shape the meaning of the Internet in people’s lives. (Pg. 297)’ This is significant because I’ve never really thought that the digital world is a major social issue. However, after reading this statement I’ve noticed that -in on way or another- having access to digital resources is a privilege that everyone should experience -regardless of the groups social standing- as it greatly enhances the individual’s performance and effects his/her self-growth.

           Warschauer also discusses the impact of the digital world and how it influenced every aspect of society. Therefore, being privileged to online information or the absence of it, can greatly impact the development of the individual nowadays. I firmly agree with this for numerous reasons, for example: Education with regards to established institutions -Schools, Universities, Work, etc-  are a major factor because almost all of the assignments, notes, reading, and even announcements are done through a computer/laptop or any digital device in general. However, what if a student/employee at university/work doesn’t have access to internet at home or a digital device in general? This will be much harder for the student, although that is unfair because the student pays the same fees, takes the same courses and is as interested in the topic of discussion. On a separate note, this can also be compared on a bigger scale, for instance: The social standing of a group. This is evident through the different institutions, such as: AUC can have access to online information, while other universities have limited or do not have any access. Thus, dealing with the limited resources available will not have the same impact in terms of educational growth, as AUC and its dependence on the digital world.

             Warschauer then discusses the case study in Egypt, I was happy to see that the Ministry of Education put exerted effort to allocate digital resources across various schools. Furthermore, I was surprised that these resources were disregarded and barely made use of. After reading the case study, I felt like I haven’t really thought of the difference between primary and secondary education or public and private schools in Egypt. I feel like – nowadays – almost all organizations focus on secondary education and extend their privileges. On the other hand, the primary education, is not as ‘important’ through the eyes of many, as a result a hierarchy is established. This is a huge problem because individuals who are in any level – but the top – must wait for orders, instead of finding their own solutions or distinctive procedures to develop the system. 

Questions –

  1. Why haven’t we (as Egyptians) think of innovative and new ways to make online information easily accessible to less developed areas?
  2. What are other ideas that the MOE can develop to enhance both the teachers and students performance while using digital devices.
  3. What can we do to fill this Digital-Social gap?

 

 

 

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