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Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim to finance online classes for Mexican students

posted 17 Jan 2013, 09:58 by Mpelembe   [ updated 17 Jan 2013, 09:58 ]

Carlos Slim says his foundation will finance online classes for poor Mexican and Latin American students with the Khan Foundation.

 MEXICO CITYMEXICO (JANUARY 14, 2013)(REUTERS) -  Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim on Monday (January 14) said his foundation would work to make free online classes available to poor students in Mexico and Latin America in conjunction with the Khan Foundation, a non-profit which seeks to improve education by providing free classes through the Internet.

At a news conference in Mexico City, Slim said that he hopes to improve access to technology by making materials available through the Internet.

"We want to give access and connectivity to everyone. The path we have considered is through digital libraries, in which people can go to the library, or go to an actual library, and instead of asking for a book, they use an available computer or laptop to navigate with high speed," he said.

Through his foundation, Slim plans to finance the translation of thousands of classes provided by theKhan Academy.

"Instead of looking for where the information can found, where that knowledge can be found, this will facilitate things, with all the instruments available today, through technology," he said.

The Khan Academy, which was founded in 2006, is a non-profit which aims to improve education by providing classes through the Internet. The academy has also been bolstered by donations from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Google, among others.

Khan Academy classes are provided in the form of videos, and cover a diverse range of topics such as biology, chemistry, finances and history. About 3,800 videos are currently available via the academy's website.

Salman Khan, the founder of the Khan Academy, said that technology can help make more efficient use of teacher's time and can help students improve their studies without being embarrassed.

"What we are seeing in classrooms that are starting to use this technology is that students get the videos when they want, at their pace. If they forgot something they don't have to be embarrassed. They can go look it up. If you are in 9th grade in algebra and forgot your 6th grade math, your embarrassed normally and you don't ask the question. Now you can go back, you can pause, you can repeat. Since that can happen outside of the classroom, the classroom gets freed up. The one thing that I really want to emphasize is that I have young children, and I want them to go to a physical classroom. I want them to have amazing teachers around them. But when they go to that classroom, it should not be a lecture. That classroom should be interaction, and instead of 90 percent of the teachers time having to go through the lecture and grading papers, we want 90 percent of the teachers time," he said.

So far, about 500 videos have been translated into Spanish. The classes, which will include courses in Spanish and English, will be made available to Mexican students, teachers, and families in April.

Slim, who Forbes ranks as the world's richest man, controls a business empire that includes Latin America's biggest telecommunications firm, America Movil, as well as banking, construction, real estate and mining companies.

Poor education standards are frequently blamed for holding back Latin America's second biggest economy.

While Mexico has made marked strides in educational achievement, its students lag other industrialized nations, especially in mathematics and science, according to a 2011 survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.