Scott Rozelle, an economist and senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, has led recent efforts to measure and bridge the technological disparities between Chinese children in rural and urban settings.
While 80 percent of urban Chinese students have Internet access, only two percent of their rural counterparts have the same privileges. Rozelle argues that the vast gap could result in a “lost generation” of children from rural backgrounds denied the skills to work in a modern economy, derailing China’s rapid economic growth.
A pilot initiative — in which 15 computers loaded with games and education software were made accessible to 60 students in rural Qinghai province — resulted in a quick payoff for Rozelle and the Rural Education Action Project (REAP), with test scores rising on average from the equivalent of a C+ to a B within 10 weeks.
Rozelle’s work evoked a favorable response from the Chinese government, which recently laid out plans calling for every student in China to have Internet access within 10 years.
– Marshall Watkins