Roughly 70% of China’s population lives in rural China. This also means that more than 70% of China’s students live in rural areas, making up some 160 million students of compulsory education age.  With the rapid decline of the price of smartphones to sub-US$80, there is a huge opportunity to distribute and democratize education to China’s poorest and largest population. Armed with a foray of educational applications, smartphones have the capability to be powerful learning tools.

Between 2003-2007, the Distance Education Project for Rural Schools (DEPRS) was implemented by the Chinese government to improve the quality of basic education in rural areas of China, especially in the poorer western provinces.  It has been referred to as “the largest ICT project in the world up to now” because “it serves a larger population than any other similar projects and therefore will likely start a far-reaching information revolution in China.” Now if the government re-enacted or continued this project, I believe low-end smartphone’s  could play a central role.

I say smartphones would enhance distribution of education, due to the very literal ability to distribute them because they are small and light.  As the technology improves, people are starting to use their smartphones more than their laptops. Although laptops become increasingly smaller and lighter, they will not be able to become smaller than smartphones. By greatly subsidizing the cost of smartphones for rural children or their families, it is almost unimaginable what they can and will do with them.

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Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.