Intel Corp., the world's largest computer microprocessor company, has been involved in education globally through its World Ahead Program focusing on greater accessibility, increased connectivity, quality education and localized content and services. Intel also has cooperated with the Indonesian Education Ministry to boost e-learning programs for schoolchildren. The Jakarta Post's Andy Haswidi and Primastuti Handayani spoke to chairman of the board of Intel Corp., Craig R. Barrett, on the company's vision and goals in education. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Question: What's your main objective in visiting Indonesia?
Answer: I have two roles and they are very similar, one is for Intel and its World Ahead Program, acting as an ambassador for Information Technology (IT), how it can be used for education, health care and business development.
The other role is with the United Nations and its global alliance for ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and its development, which really has the same objective as the Intel World Ahead Program, which is how to use ICT for education, health care, business development and better communication between citizens and the government.
So, I try to get around the world to talk to business leaders, government leaders, educators and show what is possible. Sometimes we just talk about it, usually we try to demonstrate techniques, train teachers, show what can be done and push people toward implementation.
You are focusing technology on raising educational standards; what have you done and what are you going to do to achieve this objective?
Well ... we invested about US$100 million a year on education, we have trained nearly five million teachers around the world. We committed a year or two years ago to donate 100,000 PCs worldwide and 4,000 of them are here in Indonesia.
We work with universities in training and research programs ...
We have a program that really spans the entire education process. Research at the universities is very important, (so is) training young children in math and science. We won't focus on one at the expense the another ...
For example, I just came from Atlanta, Georgia, working with an international science and engineering program, which is targeting the high school science age group. We have sponsored it for 10 years.
We try to do many different things to get lots of young people interested in mathematics and science and to improve the quality of education.
How are you measuring your achievements in this endeavor, and how is it going to make a contribution to society?
When we train teachers we always go back a year later and ask the teachers what they thought of the training, if they are using the training in the classroom, and if this is helping to get better results.
So we try to measure outputs effectively. For example, it's a little more difficult to draw a direct line from what we do in elementary education to the impact on the economy of a country ...
However, the higher the level of education of your citizens, the higher the level at which the economy operates and the greater the per capita income.
Why Indonesia and why now?
Indonesia is a very important country, the fourth most populous country in the world. The economy is growing rapidly. We started our education program here a few years ago.
I try to visit about 30 countries a year (but) you can't visit every country every year ...
How is the Classmate PC progressing so far in terms of penetration and sales?
I think it's doing OK. There are still a lot of trials going on. There have been some volume orders in some countries. I think it has been accepted pretty well.
What's important about the Classmate PC is that it's not just the PC but it's the teacher, the training, the content and the connectivity. Those are what makes programs successful.
Costs are being reduced dramatically. You can buy a Classmate PC now for a couple of hundred dollars. Someday it will be less than $200. When they were $1,000 a piece, it was an excuse not to buy them. When they're getting to $100 or $200 apiece, the excuses for not buying them are diminishing!
How do you see the role of teachers in e-learning?
E-learning is really just a catchword for delivering a lot of content online. Teachers play the important role of interfacing with the students, seeing what the students' needs are, tailoring the lessons to the students. ...
If it were just computers, you should say what country has the most computers in the classroom? That's probably the United States. Does the United States have the best education system? No. And why not? Because we have a lot of teachers in the U.S. that are not certified and accredited in math and science. We have a lot of English teachers teaching mathematics, we have a lot of physical education teachers teaching chemistry.
We don't propose that we are training teachers to be content experts. We are not making teachers to teach math, English or history or chemistry. We train teachers how to integrate technology into the flow. We can help them bring the technology tool into the classroom and integrate that into the learning process, but the teachers are the glue, the teachers are the magic.