I took a course, Economics and Educational Development, here at Teachers College this past semester and one of the topics we discussed in detail was government expenditure on education, especially tertiary education, in the developing world. Enrollment in public universities in most developing nations is almost exclusively linked to one’s economic class. Since there are very limited public university slots, those few that are available is allocated based on test scores, and quality of secondary education, etc., all of which are correlated to one’s family income. Governments in these nations spend a huge amount of resources financing few universities that are mostly attended by the higher-income population and thus creating a situation in which the poor is essentially left out.
As more prestigious institutions continue (in some cases begin) to offer their courses for free on the web as part of the massive open online courses, or MOOCs movement, a large number of participants in those courses are students from the developing world. In this article, the writer notes this phenomenon using the case of El Salvador, a nation of over six million citizens with just one public university serving 50,000 students. Students there have been flocking to moocs as an alternative or to supplement their education.