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Distance Education in Small Island Nations

Distance Education in Small Island Nations
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Author(s): Ali Fawaz Shareef (Massey University, New Zealand) and Kinshuk (Massey University, New Zealand)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 10
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch094


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Small island nations, especially Maldives, encounter a number of limitations in providing services to their people due to their size. These services include education, health, communications, and many other public services. These island nations consist of very small islands with a very low population density on most islands. The low population density on the islands limits the infrastructure developments mainly due to the lack of the economies of scale. For example, building a secondary school on an island with a population of less than 500 people does not provide economies of scale, but rather makes it economically a wastage of resources. An island this size would not have an adequate number of students per teacher, and particularly in developing countries, the public expenditure budget is so much deflated that this cannot be considered an alternative. Distance education is seen as an appealing alternative to traditional face-to-face education in these countries as it can provide education from a central location without having to spend a lot in developing infrastructure on several islands. Although it is easier to achieve economies of scale through distance-mode delivery of education, this alternative poses additional barriers that need to be addressed prior to establishing a distance-mode education system. This chapter looks at these barriers and describes a distance education model that addresses most of these barriers.

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