“As we look at the challenges of poverty, it’s clear that money alone is not what is needed. We need colleagues who can learn and share experiences with each other. Distance learning is the tool that will enable this and benefit us all.”
—- James D.Wolfensohn, Former President of the World Bank
In the beginning there was a vision: that decision makers in developing countries would have the same technologies for communication and connections at their fingertips as the titans who run the largest companies in the richest countries of the world.
It was a vision that looked at sophisticated tools, such as interactive videoconferencing, advanced Internet resources, and the use of the World Wide Web as a virtual meeting room, and at technologies to support connectivity for those tools, ranging from fiber optic to satellite networks.
It was also a vision that was challenged with limitation in the infrastructure of many countries in the developing world: access to electricity, connectivity permits, availability of advanced technology, and appropriate maintenance services.
The man who had this vision, and who began to fight for it, is James.D.Wolfensohn, then president of the World Bank. Wolfensohn was inspired by the Bank’s early success in linking its own staff in often remote parts of the world through an advanced satellite communications network. He wanted to make sure that such tools and technologies would be available to the Bank’s counterparts as well, to those who influence, make, and implement decisions and who must choose right path for the future of countries in which poverty and hunger cry out for fast and lasting change. He wanted to end the barriers of “geography as we know it,” as he used to point out to other development agencies and partners who struggled with the physical distance that often make development work so difficult.
Quickly it became clear that those tools and technologies would become affordable more rapidly if they were used in the wider context of development. They would become available to a variety of agencies and organizations, ranging from ministries to development consulting firms, whose daily jobs are to find the right solutions.
The idea of the Global Development Learning Network (GDLN) was born.