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Literacy for 100% of humanity
Nearly 1 billion people are illiterate
5: Satellite/Television Literacy Campaign
approach to security has left many developing nations with more
soldiers than teachers and more citizens illiterate than literate.
In developing countries about 130 million children of primary school
age (6 to 11 age-group) and 275 million at secondary level are not
in school. While traditional
efforts to increase attendance can have some effect, school systems
in most developing countries will need assistance in attracting
and keeping enrolled all school-age children. Furthermore, developing
nations could not afford the enormous construction and infrastructure
costs required to provide a US style "traditional" schooling for
all its children. If any developing country were to spend what the
US spends on its students, it would be bankrupt within weeks.
We have known
for over twenty years that people can be taught to read, write and
do basic arithmetic through television. Using available technologies,
all children and adults who are not currently exposed to traditional
education can become literate through educational television. The
hardware to implement such a program throughout the world where
illiteracy is rampant would consist of ten to twelve communications
satellites, approximately 10 million television receivers and satellite
dish receivers, and an equal number of solar-powered photovoltaic
and storage battery units. The television receiver units would go
first to the 1.16 million teachers in the 41 least developed countries,
followed by teachers in developing countries with the highest illiteracy
rates. The satellites and their
launching would be about an additional $2 billion.
In this plan,
the software, the actual television programming, would be the "expensive"
part. It would be created by special teams assembled from each unique
culture. These teams, made up of educators, poets, scientists, musicians
and other leaders in their fields would celebrate the diversity
of each culture, instead of homogenizing it through programming
that is similar or identical to American or other programming. In
addition to literacy programming, such an educational infrastructure
could be the vehicle for programming on health maintenance, sanitation
measures, agricultural productivity and other benefits to society.
There is a
direct and strong correlation between increased literacy and elevated
worker productivity and higher GNP.
Life expectancy, infant mortality and income per capita are also
improved by education. In addition,
a production order for photovoltaics for an effort of this size
would lower their price so substantially that they would now be
inexpensive enough to use in the developed world as a replacement
for centralized electric power plants -- thereby
lowering the amount of carbon being put into the atmosphere by fossil-fueled
power plants and eliminating the need for nuclear power plants entirely.
The costs of
launching a satellite network, providing solar-powered television
sets and satellite receivers to villages without adequate schools
and developing appropriate programming for the satellite-based education
initiative would total about $2 billion per year for twenty years.
This is less than the cost of one B-2 bomber. Supplying textbooks,
teaching aids, in-service teacher training and supervision would
cost about $3 billion additional per year. The total amount, $5
billion per year, is about 0.06% of the world's total annual military
expenditures, or 0.05% of worldwide annual illegal drug sales, or
5% of the cost of the Gulf War, or what the US spends on video game
software in 14 months.
an improved education and literacy program would include enhancing
the quality of life for newly literate citizens now able to access
written media, longer and healthier life spans attributable to easier
and wider communication of sanitation and other simple disease prevention
techniques, increased job skills and employment options, a more
attractive local economy to outside investment, an increase in GDP,
a reduction in industrial and agricultural accidents as warning
signs and instructions can be read by a wider population, and increased
What the World Wants Chart