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Digital Literacy Initiatives for the Left-Behind Children in

China
Declaration of Authorship & Peer Evaluation
Names & Matric
#s
Course Code &
Title

Chan Sheng Wei Jeremy (G1301162E)


(=)
Deng Jie (G1301165G)
(=)
Lin Huili Sapphire (G1301132L)
(=)
A6301 Communication, Technology &
Society

Plagiarism and Collusion


Plagiarism: to use or pass off as ones own, the writings or ideas of
another without acknowledging or crediting the source from which the
ideas are taken.
Collusion: submitting an assignment, project or report completed by
another person and passing it off as ones own (as defined in the NTU
Honor Code (http://academicintegrity.ntu.edu.sg).
I understand the nature of plagiarism to include the reproduction of
someone elses words, ideas or findings and presenting them as my
own without proper acknowledgement.
I understand that there are many forms of plagiarism which include
direct copying or paraphrasing from someone elses published work
(either electronic or hard copy) without acknowledging the source;
using facts, information and ideas derived from a source without
acknowledgement; producing assignments (required to be
independent) in collaboration with and/or using the work of other
people; and assisting another person to commit an act of plagiarism.
I understand that the work submitted may be reproduced and/or
communicated by the University or a third party authorized by the
University for the purpose of detecting plagiarism.
Penalties for Plagiarism and Collusion
The penalties associated with plagiarism reflect the seriousness with
which NTU view cheating, and its commitment to academic integrity. This
could include the award of a failing grade for the assignment (or the
course), or expulsion from the University. This policy applies to all work
submitted, including oral presentations and/or written work.
Declaration
We declare that this assignment is our own work, unless otherwise
referenced, as defined by the NTU policy on plagiarism. We have read the
NTU Honour Code and Pledge.

Signature of each member of group


Jeremy Chan
Eva Deng
Sapphire Lin
________________________________________________________________________
11-Nov-2013

Introduction
In contrast to popular belief, digital literacy is actually much more than
just having basic technological skills. Jones-Kavalier and Flannigan, who
wrote Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century, defined
digital literacy as the ability to read and interpret media; to reproduce
data and images through digital manipulation, and to evaluate and apply
new knowledge gained from digital environments. Digital literacy concerns
how people use technology: whether they are proficient users, whether
they understand how digital media affects their lives, whether they are
able to discern and filter out what is good and trustworthy from the vast
sea of information, and whether they are able to use it to create content
for effective communication with others.
In this paper, we will examine successful digital literacy initiatives from
different countries from the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and attempt to apply these initiatives
to our target audience: the Left-behind Children in China.
China is a country with medium Human Development Index (HDI) of 0.699
(UNDP, 2013).

HDI Trends, 1980-Present (Source: UNDP, 2013)

Due to Chinas rapid urbanization over the past 30 years, problems such
as a widening economic gap have arisen. Impoverished sectors have been
created, as some parts of China move forward and other parts remain
stuck. One such neglected group is the Left-behind Children.
The Left-behind Children are a special social group consisting of a huge
and still increasing number of children from migrant worker families.
Their homes, located in Chinas poor countryside, have few job
opportunities. Hence, their parents have to leave their homes to become
migrant workers; to help earn a living from the bigger cities.
The Left-behind Children usually live with their grandparents or guardians
in the rural areas. Some common issues they face are psychological
problems, education inadequacy, sexual assault, school violence and
youth crime.
Following the increasing number of Left-behind Children, some socialists
started to pay attention to this group of people. Ruan Mei, a female
socialist in China, spent 3 years going across five provinces and visiting
more than 1600 teachers and 1900 Left-behind Children. She then
published a book titled, Century pain: Chinas left-behind children
research in 2008.
Thereafter, various organizations, the medias and even the Chinese
Government began to pay attention to this specific group.
The two portions of this group are the ones living in the East and have
some access to digital technology, and the ones living in the rural West
who have no access to computers and/or the Internet. From this, we can
infer that there is a digital divide even from within this group of Leftbehind Children.
A wide digital divide still separates rural and urban China. (Peng, 2010)
How do we bridge that divide? We propose a digital literacy initiative,
studying the problems the Left-behind Children and matching them
against successful initiatives of OECD countries.

Left-behind Children with Little or No Access to Digital


Media
Lack of Infrastructure and Equipment
In the current information age, people who are digitally illiterate find much
difficulty adapting to society, especially so in their jobs. Individuals who
are not digitally literate are at a disadvantage when it comes to
interacting with others and being employed in the 21st century. (Berg,
2013)

The solution to this is Education. People must be taught on the different


know-hows and the good morals for responsible use of digital technology,
and this must become second nature. Think of it as a kid learning how to
ride a bicycle - consciously difficult at first but easily instinctive later. As a
Chinese proverb goes, Give a man a fish, and youll feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and you'll feed him for a lifetime.
Equipped with digital skills from young, people can be assured that they
have the basic mean to land themselves decent jobs in the later stages of
life. Digital literacy could very well help the Left-behind Children get out of
the vicious poverty cycle. Schools should be equipped to give them an
opportunity to start with.
No library, no computers. There are 160 students in Wan Zhuang Primary
School. Half of them are the left-behind children.
----Wan Zhuang Primary School principal: Zhao Huiyong
I heard that computers are common in urban schools. But for our
students, it is a rarity.
----Wan Zhuang Primary School teacher: Gui Ziqing
Wan Zhuang Primary School is located at Luo He District, He Nan province
in China. It is very common for rural schools in China to have no
computers, much less any Internet access. The average monthly income
of a migrant worker stood at RMB 2543 (USD416) in August 2013 (National
Bureau of Statistics of China, 2013). Their low family income is only
enough for them to get by, much less consider the purchase of a
computer or any other digital device. That is why less than 40% of the
families of migrants own a computer (CNNIC, 2013).
Heres a look at some initiatives conducted in OECD countries that could
help the Left-behind Children if applied to them:
New South Wales (NSW), Australia
NSWs Department of Education and Training has different programmes in
place to ensure NSW schools have access to digital educational resources
and interactive technologies for learning and teaching. Such programmes
include, Connected Classrooms and Laptops for Learning. (ACMA,
2009)
For the Laptops for Learning programme, the Department of Education
and Training supplied laptops to NSW senior secondary public school
students and their teachers. Each laptop came with different
teaching/learning related software such as Microsoft Office and Adobe,
secured with filters to block inappropriate materials and encoded to make
sure its users do not end up victims of identity theft or financial losses.

The Connected Classrooms program is about having interactive


classrooms by equipping every NSW public school with Interactive
Classroom facilities such as an interactive whiteboard, video conferencing
facility and data collaboration applications. It also provided tools to
support the ability to create, store, edit, reuse, manage, view and deliver
digital learning content from collections and repositories to staff and
students across NSW. Having delivered the latest Web 2.0 technologies, it
enriched teaching and learning practices on the whole. The schools
network bandwidth has also been upgraded to support the speedy
delivery of Interactive Classrooms and Learning Tools projects.
Queensland, Australia
Queensland formed the Learning Network Queensland (LNQ), with the
aim to help Queenslanders in rural and remote communities without
technological-educational opportunities.
One of its programmes called Back to Work aims to support older
Queenslanders re-enter the workforce by providing them with face-to-face
training in computer skills. Such skills include the basics of operating a
computer to sending and retrieving information from over the internet.
National Broadband Network (NBN) Co, Australia
NBN Co, a Government Business Enterprise, aims to assist the Australian
Government in ensuring nationwide Australians have access broadband
technology at wholesale prices. There are different plans to meet the
customized needs of various citizens, communities, and industries. The
delivery of this infrastructure is to help Australia keep up with the fastpaced Internet world. This superfast network will give 93% of Australian
homes, schools and workplaces access to optical fibre that will enable
broadband services to be provided to Australians in urban and regional
towns. (NBN Co, 2013)
Application in China
Before Internet connectivity can be made available in these rural schools,
communications infrastructure has to be set up.
Once the Chinese Government has identified the importance of rural
schools needing access to high-speed digital networks, what they can
firstly do is to work with the Internet Service Providers on the deployment.
The laying of wires for this entire system can be very costly and takes
time.
The advantage of this being a public-private partnership is that it has the
expertise of the private sector and yet can be funded through the
partnership of the government.

Many pre-deployment barriers such as policies can then be adjusted


accordingly if the government is involved, in contrast to a private one. The
project would have reduced delays under expected budget (which means
lesser claims and changes of order process) and high quality standards
can be expected. There is also a budget for possible customisation of the
technological devices.
There are certain disadvantages when it is government-led: government
representatives must be highly specialised people at contracting. There is
also a slight risk that the proposed contracting option used is not the bestsuited one for the situation.
To develop the Left-behind Childrens digital literacy, the first difficulty
faced is the device issue. According to Chinas 6 th census data in 2010,
there were more than 610 million Left-behind Children, 21.88% among all
the children in China. Its unrealistic to request that the government or
charities give every child a laptop as it would be too costly an initiative.
However, what the Ministry of Education in China can do is to provide the
rural schools with laptops containing basic programs such as Microsoft
Office installed. Solely used with e-learning lessons (more on this covered
later) laptops cannot be brought home taking into account that aim is to
give an opportunity to the Left-behind Children to be exposed to digital
literacy for the purpose of preparing them for the future, and not purely as
an act of charity. By not allowing laptops to be brought home, an attitude
of gratitude can easily be cultivated in these students because they would
know that it is a privilege provided by the schools. This in turn forces them
to value these e-learning lessons more. It is important that they value
these lessons because it creates a keener sense of learning, thus a
possibility of better impartation of education through digital literacy
during the teaching process.
In this case, the government rather than a private organization should
spearhead this initiative because the states Ministry of Education will
know how to better cater to the educational needs of the students when
embarking on the project. This will also mean that the future expansion of
the project in accordance to the Ministry's interests will be made easier.
This initiative requires a lot of capital to which a government-led initiative
allows a reduced tax payment from users. There will most likely be more
jobs opportunities in the industries involved in the production of these
laptops to meet the increasing demand for such equipment.
However, its not enough to provide a laptop for these students. They
must be empowered to use it effectively and responsibly. Hence, current
schoolteachers should first be equipped with the necessary skills to teach
these children. What should be done is to apply Queensland, Australia's
initiative in setting up the Learning Network Queensland Back to Work
programme.

China should set up learning centres for its schoolteachers, where they
will be trained in digital literacy. This is accredited and must be made
compulsory for all teachers to go through before going out to work. Digital
literacy must be part of every schoolteachers job training. Having this will
ensure quality digital education for the students. Training will include
having proficiency on computers, web 2.0 (searching of internet, online
safety, etc.), and the use of other digital entities such as teaching
resources. Presently, teachers in the cities are more trained than the
teachers in the rural areas because the government does not see the
need to deploy trained teachers to rural areas. Once the infrastructure is
established, teachers in rural areas should also be trained, and teachers
from the cities can also find themselves becoming more useful in the rural
areas.
This initiative should be fully funded by the government. However, private
companies, especially those who have vested interest in digital media,
should be engaged to structure and teach the courses. This is because
with their expertise, better quality teaching can be expected.
The interactivity of digital media can help to ease learning difficulties of
these poor children. For example, a simple visual demonstration of a
certain subject is better at increasing the depth of understanding as
compared to just having to read plain text. Students get a hands-on
experience with what they are learning when using laptops. There's
greater student-student or student-teacher engagement through the use
of online portals. It is important for the students to have the ability to
create, store, edit, reuse, manage, view and deliver digital learning
content. Frequent practice of this in school will in turn infuse a kind of
digital literacy into them, enabling them to move forward on their own
once they understand the different concepts and usage of technologies
(e.g. email, printing, etc.).
Larry Gelwix
permanent.

quoted,

Practice

doesnt

make

perfect,

it

makes

Likewise its vital for these children be constantly taught and trained the
correct way of usage when it comes to digital technology. This will ensure
they practise the right mindsets and techniques.
Teachers should constantly educate them on the right and wrong uses of
the Internet. This is important socially, because being newly introduced to
the Internet, these students are still unwary of the predators on the web
which could in turn lead to possible undesirable consequences such as
eventual rape or scams. Hence precaution is still better.

Left-behind Children with Access to Digital Media


without Protection from it
Lack of Knowledge on How to Use the Internet

While some children are struggling with the lack of equipment, there are
those who are faced with having inadequate knowledge on handling the
technology they have. There are two kinds of worrying results produced
by this lack of knowledge: they make unintended online purchases and
land up with unexpected bills; they unknowingly release personal data to
dubious websites and chat rooms, which can lead to all kinds of crimes
being committed. The consequences of this lack of knowledge? They pay
whether with money, or with virginity, or with their safety.
15 year-old young girl Liu is a junior school student. At the beginning of
2013, she fell into an online love affair with a boy. She didnt have any
precaution at all when the boy requested for a video-chat and
subsequently her detailed personal information. Through the video-chat
and the information she provided, the boy and his friends found her in a
cybercaf easily. They induced her into going to a hotel and raped her by
turns. Whats more, Liu was forced to provide sexual services to old men
to earn money. She tried to escape but was heavily beaten in the
process.
----Xu Cang District Juvenile Criminal Prosecutor: Xu Ying
The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) released their
latest figures in July 2013, showing there were more than 590 million
Internet users in China, with 19% of them are under 18 years of age. The
more worrisome thing is, the cyber crime rate has been increasing rapidly
these recent years, especially via QQ.
QQ is the most popular instant messenger established by Tencent in China
and its a messaging application is similar is Skype and MSN. QQs
monthly active accounts have reached up to 721 million. Individuals may
change their mobile number from time to time but are unable to change
their QQ number. After several years of usage, QQ saves all the social
relation information of every user. Some criminal gangs used different
softwares to hack into users QQ accounts; pretending to be the account
owners and cheating their friends. Besides QQ, there were also other
cheating methods, for example, putting up fake websites to deceive
others. They registered website addresses similar to banks and big brands
and created similar content to cheat customers into performing monetary
transactions on their websites.
Although the percentage of Internet users among the Left-behind Children
are not specified, they are certainly still the main targets of the criminal
gangs. Without parents care and education, the Left-behind Children have
a stronger psychological need to feel loved, resulting in wrong choices due
to ignorance.
American Library Associations (ALA) Office for Intellectual
Freedom and Open Society Institute, United States of America

The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, with support from the Open
Society Institute initiated the Choose Privacy campaign back in January
2010. The purpose of this campaign was to give libraries the tools they
need to educate and engage users, and give citizens the resources to
think critically and make more informed choices about their privacy (ALA,
2013).
This campaign is not just one that makes the audience the passive
receiver of the message, but also gives the audience a chance to actively
participate and engage in critical thinking based on the resources given;
and also to have national conversations on what the government is doing
or should be doing with their personal information.
With knowledge and understanding, people can make educated choices.
In line with this campaign, the Pollak Library of California State University
has also produced specific guides on how to handle personal online data,
for example, Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts, and how to guard against
identity theft (Pollak Library, 2013).

(Source: ALA, 2013)


ALA provides real statistics to appeal to the mind of Americans and bring
to them the rude shock of how appalling is the standard of Internet
privacy. Contrary to what we think or how much we do to protect our
privacy, what we put online is never really private.
Application in China
In the U.S., people are considerably tech-savvy, and the campaign was to
bring about a strong sense of awareness of how vulnerable they actually
were, as their information, once online, was never considered private. For
the left-behind children, such a message will not be of much concern for
them yet. Take it a few notches down, and consider the application of such
a campaign to bring about awareness of how they should protect their
information online and the relevant online malice to guard against.

Considering that the left-behind children also make unintended purchases


on digital media devices such as on the smartphone, tablet and laptop,
the awareness campaign can also be made to include elements that
educate children on the correct options to choose when operating their
device. Parents and guardians of these children must also be made aware
that such accidents can take place. They must take action to prevent their
children from repeating their mistakes.
A public awareness campaign can be initiated in China; one that is
custom-made to educate the left-behind children on the issues of avoiding
unintended purchases and protection of their personal data on the
Internet. Paper and digital resources can be placed in school libraries that
all schooling children have access to. These resources will guide the
children on the kind of information when posted online can be deemed to
jeopardize the safety of their private life, and how to identify dubious
sources and contacts and protect themselves from the dangers of the
Internet. To carry out this campaign, pamphlets can be given out and talks
can be conducted at schools, infomercials can be placed online and on the
television.
This initiative is likely to require the help of the government, as hardly any
profits that can be reaped from such a campaign (except advertorial ones,
if any). It is to educate the public and therefore would require the
government to push it through on a large-scale basis, reaching the far
ends of China, every little province and village, as long as a computer or
digital device is owned there. Such a campaign will bring about awareness
to the less fortunate children, and can lower crime rates, considering that
more of them will become more aware of how unintended information
released on the Internet can make them vulnerable and less safe.
Addiction to Digital Media
For the Left-behind Children who have access to a computer, there are
also rising issues of Internet addiction and staying on the computer for
long periods of time without control; engaging in frivolous pursuits like
violent gaming or pornography. Such addictions can be detrimental to the
psychological health of a person, resulting in undesirable consequences.
For every classroom of 30 kids, three of them could develop a hardcore
digital addiction that boosts the risk of depression, social phobia and poor
school performance. Kids who averaged 31 or more hours of gameplay a
week were classified as pathological or obsessive gamers and were
determined more likely to develop serious mental health issues.
----Huffington Post, 2011
Li Fan, a 14 years old left-behind child, had lived with his grandma alone
from 2009. His parents were devoiced and worked as migrant workers
separately in Guang Zhou. His mother came back at most twice per year.
Li Fan dropped from junior school because of Internet addiction in 2012.

10

On the second day of 2013 spring festival, he stole RMB3000 from home
and stayed at a cybercaf. He was playing a MMORPG game when his
grandma found him two weeks after his ran away from home. His
grandma was so angry that she tied him on a tree outside the house. The
next morning, Li Fan was found dead, frozen.
----SINA NEWS, 28 Feb 2013
The case of Li Fan is just one of the many tragic cases of the Left-behind
Child group in todays modern society. According to Professor Tao Ran, a
medical expert at Beijing Military Command General Hospital, more than
half of the Internet addiction patients had lived apart from their parents
since before they were younger than 3 years old. There were more than
5000 cases in Beijing Military Command General Hospital. Professor Tao
Ran said that the lack of parental care was one of the main factors
causing Internet addiction. You may notice that these 5000 cases were
just the tip of the iceberg. For most of the Left-behind Children with
Internet addiction, they have not even realised their problem.
Compared to the children with normal families, the Left-behind Children
not only lack of self-control, but also parental surveillance. Due to the onechild policy in China, most children are the only child in their family.
Without their parents, there is hardly anyone for them to closely connect
to, except their elderly grandparents, their guardians, their neighbours, or
their schoolmates. Such a social condition can force them to turn to the
Internet for comfort, entertainment, company, etc.
In America, France, German and Korea, they have some specified laws to
protect teenagers from the cyber pornography and cyber bullying
mandatorily. We should learn from them and create our own laws for our
children as soon as possible.
----Beijing Teenager Legal Assistance Center Lower: Liu Hui Li
Cyber pornography and bullying are widespread problems in the modern
society of China. The China Teenager Research Centre has done a survey
about teenager online behaviour, showing that 48% minor netizens have
viewed pornographic websites while 43% received emails with sex or
violent content.
Children are fast-learning and good at imitation. When they receive a
message containing pornography or violence, they are likely to imitate it
in real life; without critical thinking. Some socialists have named this
phenomenon as Network Imitating Disease (BaiDu Baike, 2012). To
develop digital literacy for these Left-behind Children, we should think
about how to filter pornography and violent content.
Some netizens on a Chinese forum have expressed outrage and concern
over photos of young children imitating sexual poses during their
playtime. The global poll showed that 62% of children aged between 10 to

11

17 were exposed to negative situation online, and 25% of these children


saw images of violence or nudity while using the Internet every week.
----Asiaone News, 2010

Children imitating sexual poses (Source: Asiaone News)


Media Development Authority (MDA) and TOUCH Cyber Wellness,
Singapore
Singapore is an OECD country that is also tackling an online addiction
problem. According to the 2011 Norton Cyber Crime Report, a
Singaporean averagely spends 31 hours weekly online, as compared to
their counterparts in countries such as Australia, Japan, United Kingdom
and Hong Kong, who would spend only an average 24 hours online per
week ("Fighting online addiction," 2012).

12

(Source: Media Exchange, 2012)


In promotion of cyber wellness, MDA of Singapore partnered TOUCH Cyber
Wellness and set up a division called CRUSH that helps youths overcome
their indulgence on the Internet through the provision of healthy gaming
environments, workshops, and counselling (TOUCH Cyber Wellness, 2011).
A case study reported by TOUCH Cyber Wellness, 2011 revealed that a
mother of a 15-year-old boy, nicknamed Dragon, went to PlanetCRUSH
Cyber Wellness Center to seek help for her sons gaming addiction.
Dragon had migrated to Singapore from China, and has no siblings and
few friends. He used online gaming and videos to keep himself occupied.
Dragons mother recounted, He was spending too much time playing
computer games and he started to lose his temper, skip school and meals.
His excessive gaming also worsened his relationship with his father.
Though Dragon was reluctant to enroll in the programme, his school
referred him into the programme. He underwent a series of counselling
sessions and enrichment programmes, and received customized
recommendations to healthier leisure options and on how to live a
balanced life. After some time in the programme, Dragon testified, I
enjoyed the outdoor activities and realized that if I do more outdoor stuff, I
get less angry and my time on the computer is also greatly reduced. I
think now my parents see me going out more often and we get on each
others nerves less. The counsellors at CRUSH are gamers themselves
and are able to empathize with these younger gamers who are looking to
overcome their addiction.

Dragon and his counsellor, Anthony, at a performance at The Esplanade


PlanetCRUSH has many other success stories as such. They also work with
schools to educate children on cyber wellness, holding interactive
workshops and engaging talks at Primary Schools and Secondary Schools.
It is also a mean of getting children island-wide to know about this
programme and take interest in participating in it, which will in turn train
them to use the Internet for their benefit and not their detriment;
harnessing the goodness of the Internet instead of being controlled by it.

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CRUSH provides a very comprehensive and well-conceptualised


programme that covers the entire issue of the risk of the Internet and how
to surf safely.
----Esther Lai, Principal in Singapore
Content Watch, United States of America
There are also programmes that are tailored to curb pornography
addiction. NetNanny is one such programme. Based in the United States,
Content Watch created NetNanny, an advanced Internet Filtering solution
for any addict and their families. This programme is free for 6 months and
would be chargeable for any further usage, based on a yearly license. It
has many other uses, such as masking of profanities, monitoring of social
media and time management (Content Watch Inc., 2013).
Application in China
Stopping the widespread problem of Internet addiction amongst the Leftbehind Children of China would require a two-prong approach: Human and
Machine. Its best to merge the two initiatives above and give the Leftbehind Children emotional support through counselling and workshops,
while also adding filters and programmes like NetNanny to their
computers. While it is true that overcoming addictions require a lot of
discipline, it is also true that external sources of help can be very needful.
The new generation needs to be digital literate to be making
advancements in society, but ironically, being under the affliction of
addiction to the Internet would not see them going far socially. It is a very
delicate balance. As this group in China is relatively new to digital media,
it is best to give them a right start-up; prevention is always better than
cure, and the cure should always be ready when there is need for one.
The software will be the first safety net, applying filters so that
undesirable content cannot be so easily reachable, and using time
management technology to ration the time these children spend on the
Internet and on meaningless online activities like excessive gaming and
chatting. The ration could vary per child, as each child has a different
lifestyle and tolerance towards what would lead to addiction and what
would not. Counselling would be the next net, where children who are
already addicted to Internet and its vices, can be brought to cyber
wellness centres to seek help from trained counsellors.
The CRUSH programme in Singapore is government-initiated, and the
NetNanny programme is one that is from a private company. We
recommend that this support system to guard against the ill-effects of
Internet addiction in China be one that is initiated by the government. The
Left-behind Children in China are not wealthy enough to pay for
counselling or for advanced software filters, and would likely persist in

14

their habits if seeking for help would require paying a material price. The
government could outsource the making of the software to a private
company, who would then receive compensation for the making and the
maintenance of the software.
Counsellors like those from CRUSH are also necessary, and this can create
meaningful job opportunities for the more well-to-do citizens of China who
educated and controlled players of the fast-paced technological world. The
government could employ these counsellors and provide free counselling
for the Left-behind Children facing the problem of Internet or pornographic
addiction, helping these children grow up as people who can be engaged
in social activities and not people bound to a computer for the rest of their
lives.

Conclusion
As it can be seen from the discussions in the earlier sections, there are
various pros and cons to government-led initiatives and private sector
initiatives. Government-led initiatives have a wider and larger access to
the population in China, simply because they are the government and
things sanctioned by them will gain more popularity and acceptance in
China.
The government can also do things for the poor without expecting any or
much profit. For the private sector, it is unprofitable for them to go into
anything that is 100% charitable; they have to make some profit
somewhere, especially so in the long run, or it will be difficult to keep their
business running. However, private sector initiatives can sometimes be
more innovative and engaging as they have trained and professional staff
for the initiatives they embark on.
It would probably be best to have a mix of government-led and private
sector initiatives, particularly so for the Left-behind Children of China who
are unable to give immediate reciprocation to private companies due to
their impoverishment.
The government has a longer arm in this area, by usage of the Ministry of
Education, reaching the large majority of the Left-behind Children would
be made a lot easier. Yet, it would be good if they could have the expertise
and the trained manpower that the private sectors have, so as to bridge
the gap between the rich and the poor, the fortunate and the less
fortunate, of China.
We hope that China can one day become a country with high digital
literacy. Based on the initiatives we have found in OECD countries like
Australia, USA, and Singapore, we believe that if China were to apply the
same initiatives nationwide, especially so to our target group: the Leftbehind Children, the digital divide and the economic gap can slowly but
surely be bridged in the decades to come. It will not be an easy task, nor a

15

quick one, because China is so big, and there are so many little provinces
and cities, each differing in their own little ways.
Taking our eye away from China momentarily, we would like to quote what
Mr Lee Kuan Yew (2013) has perceptively pointed out, India is not a real
country. Instead it is 32 separate nations that happen to be arrayed along
the British rail line. There is a lack of common language, which makes it
hard for any proper communication to take place, much harder then for
any real work to be done. As for China, it took a very hard-handed man to
unify them: Qin Shi Huang. This unification has brought about a fair share
of benefits, like a common language and currency, but no doubt, a great
deal of pain and sacrifices. Afer the Qing Dynasty, China took a plunge,
but now, once again, they are on the steady rise. Measures have to be
implemented and lessons have be learnt from those who have gone
before them, for their climb to be a smoother one. The gap ought to be
bridged for China to be unified, digitally this time round.

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