This blog post will discuss how education is linked to freedom and development and the environmental concern of electronic educational technologies.
This week in class we discussed inclusive education and the importance of inclusive education for development. Going back to the first week talking about Sen’s “Development as Freedom”, Sen turned away from looking at development as being measured through economic growth and instead should be measured by the amount of freedoms given to people within a country. Sen emphasizes education as being crucial, beyond the traditional role in production, and instead to increase an individual’s ability to choose and extend their freedom . This access to education is something that millions of people around the world struggle with, especially persons with disabilities world wide. Teachers world wide often feel anxious or unwilling to accept persons with disabilities into their traditional classrooms because they don’t know how to interact with them, teach them, and think they can not learn like their other students. However, these students can learn, with the right tools at their disposable to aid them. Numerous stakeholders, commissions and conventions have been working together to try to improve the access of schools to persons with disabilities and one thing that is integral to create tools to aid in learning is technology. Technology has allowed for students to gain an equal playing field as their peers by providing closed captions, e-readers, hearing aids, sign language instruction and more.
While technology has definitely evened out the playing field for persons with disabilities in the classroom, one aspect I brought up in class that I will be elaborating on in this blog post is the danger of electronics and e-waste for the environment, even with positive benefits to others. I mentioned in class that what needed to be thought of when it comes to creating technology to promote inclusive education is not just creating new, and better technology, but creating technology that can be improved on in order to prevent further waste. A major part of the SDGs is the sustainability aspect of them. Sustainable means that the changes that are implemented in order to promote inclusive development need to be able to maintain for a long period of time. Technology is a large field where there is a large and seemingly, unstoppable, amount of waste. Inside every electronic, there are toxic chemical – arsenic, lead, and poly-brominate flame retardants – which pose a danger to the environment . Having these chemicals inside electronics are not a major concern when carrying a cell phone or a using a laptop, however, they are a major concern as improper disposal of these electronic waste affects the soil, air, and water components of the environment. Unfortunately, this is too often the reality, as new technologies are created every day and technologies are mass produced. America, in particular, is notorious for E-waste. Simply looking at cell phones, Americans tend to keep a cell phone for only 18 months, changing it out to a new model later. Additionally, 60% of e-waste is not disposed of properly and ends up in landfills, both domestically and in developing countries. This is the environmental concern with creating new technologies and new electronic innovations to aid in inclusive education.
This is not to say that new technologies should not be created to improve education for persons with disabilities, simply saying that the creation of new technologies and electronics needs to be done with the environment in mind. There is great potential for new technologies to lessen, and potentially, eliminate the gap in education for persons with disabilities, however, the environmental impact is something to consider, especially if they are made to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals.