(Tags: #GoRemote #Africa #Contest)


We live in a world that is constantly changing to suit the ever evolving needs of different people in different places. This is evident by the endless growth in demand for new information and technology on a daily basis. In the face of the many political, economic and social concerns characteristic of our world today, e-learning and remote work present an increasingly effective opportunity to enhance and expedite learning and works experiences for people across the world. E-learning and remote work are progressively ensuring simplicity and speed with which work is done and valuable skills are learnt, thus creating opportunities that never existed before and transforming peoples’ lives on a global scale. The impact of e-learning and remote work on society can further be understood in view of the following:

  • People on the Autism Spectrum

Autism generally affects the social, behavioral and emotional development of children. Often, the disorder is characterized by cognitive problems and difficulties in communicating or interacting with people. Autistic individuals tend to be withdrawn from the world, tending to be socially isolated as they struggle to develop normal relationships with friends or family. The majority of children with autism also struggle with mental retardation. Consequently, individuals with autism often find it difficult to learn effectively or get employed, requiring constant special attention and assistance depending on the severity of the disease. Despite such difficulties, e-learning can play an important role in ensuring that such individuals are able to learn various skills to help them adapt to the society and survive; for instance, special software has been developed to help children with autism learn the alphabet in a way they can easily relate and put into practice (Source).  Other computer programs have also been developed to help teach adults with autism how to interpret facial expressions in others, since in most cases people with autism have difficulties in understanding the emotions of others (Veenstra-VanderWeele, 2008). Also, since people with autism may have problems in learning, the use of virtual realistic technologies can be used to help them easily grasp certain concepts and apply them in real life. According to Grandin (2002), world-renowned autism spokesperson and author, autistic children usually have problems with motor controls of their hands, and neat handwriting is sometimes quite challenging and frustrating to them; in such cases, typing can help them enjoy writing and reduce their frustration. Likewise, as autistic individuals may have problems interacting and communication with others, remote work presents an ideal alternative for them since it does not require as much physical interaction and communication with others as non-remote work does.

  • Refugees

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are nearly 21.3 million people living as refugees in the world today. In Syria alone, over 4 million people are estimated to have fled the country since 2011 and are living as refugees in foreign countries, according to findings by the UN Refugee Agency. Owing to various language barriers and unfavorable regulations and policies, refugees often struggle to find decent jobs or attain high quality education in foreign countries. Opportunely, e-learning provides a means through which these people can easily acquire valuable knowledge and skills, i.e. by enrolling in online courses. On the other hand, by presenting individuals with opportunities to find jobs or work on projects that do not require employees to make physical appearances at set offices, remote work gives refugees the capability to earn incomes without having to deal with any complications that may arise from commuting. This is especially convenient as refugees may have problems travelling between regions or cities in foreign countries due to financial restrictions or inadequate travel documents. In so doing, e-learning and remote work also minimize travel related costs and ensure that these refugees are able to operate from safe environments, since they do not have to travel long distances to get to various workplaces or educational institutions that may present its own risks. Consequently, e-learning and remote work provide refugees with opportunities to improve their live and prepare for the future while waiting to return home. In turn, such refugees are likely to easily recover and proceed with their lives when they finally return home. They are also in a better position to play greater roles in the restoration and development of their countries when they return home with the valuable knowledge, skills and income earned via e-learning and remote work while living as refugees elsewhere.

  • People in post war zones

Wars often have prolonged outcomes on the social and economic development of individuals living within the confines of war stricken areas. In the words of the English novelist, Michael Marshall Smith, “there has been no war without atrocity” (Blood of Angels, 2005). Following a war, many public institutions are disrupted and ultimately cease to operate permanently or momentarily. In addition, essential supplies are scanty and become expensive, foreign investments are stalled, and the general ambience of the country makes it difficult for ordinary people to get by with their lives. Owing to the destruction of schools and universities during warfare, education systems are interrupted and many students are likely to drop out of schools. Likewise, since most work related operations are permanently or momentarily terminated during and after a war, people are likely to lose their jobs and it becomes difficult for people to support themselves financially. For students willing to proceed with their studies under such circumstances, e-learning provides a valuable alternative in the form of online courses, since they are usually easily accessible and not as expensive. Similarly, remote work presents a reasonable alternative for individuals looking to earn incomes and support themselves in post war zones, as it becomes difficult to find non-remote jobs after a country undergoes the physical devastation of a war. In so doing, e-learning and remote work provide effective ways through which the lives of people living in post war zones can be improved, ensuring that people are able to proceed with their lives after going through desolation. In the long run, this can also have a positive bearing on the socio-economic development of countries formally stricken by wars.

  • People living with disabilities

Generally, people living with disabilities are likely to experience worse educational and labor market outcomes than people without disability. Accordingly, they have lower employment and educational attainment rates than people without disability, as stipulated by the World Health Report on Disability (2011). This may follow from a lack of adequate provisions for the disabled in the form of utilities and technologies in most educational institutions or workplace environments. In some cases, the learning or workplace environments with the right equipment and facilities to make disabled people’s lives bearable are far too expensive for average people to afford, or are located far too distantly. In such situations, e-learning can play an important role by providing customized and inexpensive software or interactive interfaces in educational institutions or online to help the disabled learn and gain valuable knowledge and skills. Similarly, remote work can help ensure that the disabled are able to pursue their careers extensively while still operating under suitable conditions in their homes or other recommended environments; disabled people are able to complete their work related tasks and responsibilities without the struggle of having to get to different workplace environments that may be unconducive and detrimental to their health. In addition, by working remotely, the disabled are less likely to face stigmatization and other forms of unfair treatment by colleagues and supervisors, allowing them to work greater proficiently and confidence. According to the World Health Survey, there are around 785 million (15.6%)  people aged 15 years and older living with disability, based on 2010 population estimates ( World Health Report on Disability, 2011, p. 44.). Since most of these will find it hard to complete their studies or pursue their careers, e-learning and remote work therefore provide a suitable means through which they can still be able to rise above their handicaps and achieve various goals in their lives.

  • Women in the Middle East

In recent years, people’s perceptions on women and gender equality in the Middle East have largely evolved; women are now allowed to carry out various activities and responsibilities that were formally considered virile. Nonetheless, many social and economic limitations against women still exist across the Middle East, owing to laws and deeply rooted customs in certain regions. Some laws, while designed to protect women, only increase the cost of hiring women, including maternity leave policies, provision of childcare centers, and the number of working hours for women (World Bank Middle East and North Africa Social & Economic Development group, 2009, p.7). Consequently, female participation in the labor sector tends to be low. Here again, remote work can help provide women with more manageable jobs and increase their participation in the labor sector; for example, where women are involved in jobs that allow them to work remotely, their productivity is not greatly affected by maternity leave policies or laws governing how many hours they work, since they can work according to their own schedules and even exceed their supervisors’ expectations. This means more women have a greater chance of finding jobs that require them to work remotely as opposed to finding jobs that are non-remote. Remote work also proves to be convenient in Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia, where women are not normally allowed to drive, and may find it difficult to commute to workplaces at times. Literacy levels among girls in some Middle Eastern countries are reportedly higher, with great strides being made in female education investment over the past few decades (World Bank Middle East and North Africa Social & Economic Development group, 2009, p.8). However, e-learning can still help improve the quality of education offered as students can use the internet or local and wide area networks to connect with other scholars in different universities within and abroad in order to keep updated on new academic developments and research in various fields of study. This is especially useful in fields like medicine and science where new discoveries and are made on a daily basis.

In view of the above, it can be seen that e-learning and remote work are effective tools that can contribute a great deal to the socio-economic development efforts of countries, especially in regions where people are disadvantaged, or in cases where individuals have special needs. The use of e-learning and remote work continues to grow markedly around the world today, presenting new opportunities and making it possible for people to achieve tasks that were previously considered too challenging or impossible. If used efficiently, e-learning and remote work can be used to increase the productivity of individuals and corporations in various ways, all the while reducing the costs and resources associated with learning and working.