• Ciaran Burks

How the Digital Platform Economy can Contribute to Education in the Developing World

Updated: Jul 16, 2019

How a Digital World can Provide Quality, low-cost Education for the Developing World


Poorly educated teachers, high student-teacher ratios, lack of government funding and many other issues severely hamstring both the quality and quantity of education for learners in developing countries. The lack of distribution costs, low barriers to entry, and the zero-marginal-cost per view make online education a cheap long-term option for the developing world.


Chile developed an advanced Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the 1990s – named Enlaces (Links in Spanish) – that connected government and universities across the country, in order to change the structure of the education system dramatically. As of 2009 there were 11,000 participating Chilean schools, and the initiative has trained in excess of 110,000 teachers with a student to computer ration of 10:1. The program has become an archetype for developing countries looking to transform their education system and make it compatible with a digital world.


For-profit corporations are creating value too. The global e-learning market raked in $165 billion in 2015 and is set to earn $275 billion by 2022. With highly competitive labour markets and ill-trained educators driving the trend in the Asia-Pacific region. Key players include Adobe, Cisco Systems, McGrawHill, Oracle, Blackboard Inc., Microsoft and Haiku Learning. Online learning includes corporate and academic spheres, and such online learning may prove to be key in developing the necessary skills in our evolving global economy.


Developing countries may find that the key to affordable and quality education lies at the intersection between ICT infrastructure, partnerships with the private sector and the digital platform economy.



For more info, check out these sources:


UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2012. School and Teaching Resources in Sub-Saharan Africa: Analysis of the 2011 UIS Regional Data Collection On Education, UNESCO.


Deming, D. J., Goldin, C., Katz, L. F. & Yuchtman, N., 2015. Can Online Learning Bend the Higher Education Cost Curve?. American Economic Review , 105(5), pp. 496-501.


Trucano, M., World Bank, 2009. Linking up with Enlaces (Chile). [Online].

Available at: http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/linking-up-with-enlaces-chile. [Accessed 16 August 2018].


Reuters, 2017. Global E-Learning Market 2017 to Boom $275.10 Billion Value by 2022 at a CAGR of 7.5% – Orbis Research. [Online]. Available at: https://www.reuters.com/brandfeatures/venture-capital/article?id=11353. [Accessed 16 August 2018]


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