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Ciné-ONU: The School in the Cloud

On 24th January 2019, Ciné-ONU screened ‘The School in the Cloud’ in partnership with the Embassies of the UK and Ireland and UNESCO at Cinéma Galeries in Brussels. The event was organised to mark the first International Day of Education, and to raise awareness for Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education.

Facebook Live Interview

'The School in the Cloud' follows a three year experiment as Sugata Mitra installs internet kiosks in locations ranging from remote villages in West Bengal to a school in north east England, to enable children to self-organise their learning. Jerry Rothwell’s film explores the impact of Professor Mitra’s work, predominantly through the experience of children in the remote Indian village of Korakati in the Ganges Delta. As children encounter the internet for the first time, will they be able to use it to transform their futures?

Panel talk

The discussion following the screening focused on the development of education through technology, touching on the accessibility of educational resources in developing countries, as well as the role of teachers and technology. More than half of children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics while over 265 million children are currently out of school. As Secretary-General, António Guterres stated, “Education can also break and reverse cycles of intergenerational poverty. Studies show that if all girls and boys complete secondary education, 420 million people could be lifted out of poverty.”

On the panel were Jerry Rothwell, director of the film; Andrew Long, Development Counsellor and UK Representation to the EU; Paolo Fontani, UNESCO Representative to the EU; Clare Sears, British Council Director Western Balkans and was moderated by Carlos Jimenez, UNRIC.

To most of the panel, the film was both about the role of internet in education and whether its impact has been revolutionary. Paolo Fontani stated that the internet provides more than soft skills, as it also gives motivation and makes your dreams liveable. He stated that “If you have a great teacher and you put that with the internet then you don’t necessarily learn more, but you learn better.”

Observing how the internet changes learning, the film showed the dynamics between teachers and technology. Clare Sears mentioned that technology itself is almost a red herring, but what really changes is the method of collaboration and asking questions. As a result of initiatives by global organisations: “We’ve learned that it’s not about kit. It’s about teachers themselves, and the guidance they can give,” says Andrew Long.

Twitter slide2

A member of the audience stated that the internet is still very much based on the English language and western development models, asking “How can we ensure that people are keeping their mother tongues and cultures while still providing access to the internet?” Jerry Rothwell answered that as the internet spreads, resources in different languages spread as well. Clare Sears pointed out that while a lot of the language of computing is in English, the opportunity of learning a language is also online.

Innovative ways of accessing the internet can give children the means to an education. What ‘The School in the Cloud’ especially shows are the potentials for technology to not only provide education, but to change the learning process.

For the handout, click here.

To see pictures from the evening, click here.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @CineONU #CineONU

To watch the Facebook Live interview with film director, Jerry Rothwell, click here.

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