This principle seems obvious, doesn't it? (Perhaps all principles should seem obvious.) But the key, if there is one, is that programs should enhance students' knowledge and skills. I think we know (no citation, in other words) that as students increase their understanding and awareness of the world around them, including some concepts and information that appear in school curricula, they increase their capacity to build literacy, numeracy and other basic skills. (As E.D. Hirsch says.)
When you're planning an ICT project in schools in a developing country, there will be plenty of gaps to fill. Even when basic skills and schools' abilities to teach 'em are lacking, look for ways to build conceptual and contextual knowledge.
As usual in reviewing these principles,* it's best to go straight to the core sub-principles. And those are:
- Help students build literacy skills & basic skills in all subjects
- Help students build 21st-century life and learning skills
- Focus on learning outcomes
Statements 1 and 2 aren't mutually exclusive, or contradictory.
(*And why, you might ask, review these principles at all?)
In schools that are really low performing—one teacher shows up, for example, there are few books, kids have nothing to write on or with—ICT can be used to mitigate teachers' lack of capacity and to facilitate PD by providing direct instruction to students in one form (IRI) or another (e-learning). Depending on students' needs and the system's capacity, ICT can support instruction (of students and teachers both) across a range of skillsets running from basic to complex. Students can use an MP3 recorder to listen to phonics instruction; and they can use the same MP3 recorder to make podcasts for their classmates or to share messages with members of a distant team. Don't make the mistakes of assuming that without basic skills kids can't learn anything, or that basic skills will if all else fails and kids leave school be sufficient.
(If your project is based on IRI [Interactive Radio Instruction—direct instruction in basic skills using audio], include stories. How hard is that?)