Information and communication technologies

UNESCO gives a high priority to the use of ICT for more equitable and pluralistic access to information and knowledge in various spheres of human endeavour. In particular, UNESCO focuses its attention on the impact of ICT on education, gender, indigenous communities, people with disabilities and youth.

We are living in a time of accelerated technological development, which affects us all in our professional, private and social life. Information and communication technologies (ICT) are the combination of computer technology, telecommunication technology and media. The convergence of these three components definitely creates a very powerful force.

Participants in the Tunis meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (16-18 November 2005) recognized the benefits that ICT can bring to humanity and the manner in which they can transform people’s lives and increase their confidence in the future. It was also recognized that the ICT revolution can have a tremendous positive impact as an instrument of sustainable development.

ICT are making it possible for a vastly larger population than at any time in the past to participate in sharing and expanding the base of human knowledge and to contribute to its further growth in various spheres of human endeavour. This should foster the establishment of a fully-inclusive and development-oriented information society and knowledge economy, respecting, in the same time, cultural and linguistic diversity.

Focus on education

The use of ICT in and for education is rapidly expanding in many countries and is now seen worldwide as both a necessity and an opportunity.

UNESCO is giving a high priority to the use of ICT for more equitable and pluralistic development in education. The broad questions on which UNESCO focuses are:

  • How can one use ICT to accelerate progress towards education for all and throughout life?
  • How can ICT bring about a better balance between equity and excellence in education?
  • How can education prepare individuals and society to master and benefit from ICT that increasingly permeate all spheres of life?

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Focus on gender

The benefits of knowledge and technology are not available to the large majority of the world's population. Women find themselves in most cases excluded from opportunities offered by ICT. Their capacity to take advantage of ICT depends on the extension of communications infrastructure to where women live and on the increase of their educational level.

To bridge the gender divide UNESCO fosters the broadest possible participation of decision-makers, professional communities, civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners and the private sector.

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Focus on indigenous communities

UNESCO places a high value on programmes aimed at mutual understanding, tolerance and respect for the rights of individuals to a cultural identity and to self-determination. Part and parcel of this strategy is the reinforcement of a free flow of communication both within and between indigenous societies and, in turn, between them and the rest of the world.

UNESCO therefore welcomes activities which create and reinforce the indigenous media and which promote their participation in an international dialogue.

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Focus on people with disabilities

Over 10% of the world’s population suffers from a variety of disabilities. However, ICT can offer individuals the ability to compensate for physical or functional limitations, thus allowing them to enhance their social and economic integration. UNESCO promotes the use of ICT for access to information and knowledge for all persons, including those with disabilities.

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Focus on youth

Access to information does not define itself only in terms of access to different technologies and media, but must take into account the specific needs of different groups of people.

Considering the nature and type of information youth need for full participation in the society, UNESCO assists young people to produce information themselves by:

  • supporting youth media;
  • facilitating the creation of media education and youth information and communication networks, and;
  • providing appropriate technologies to youth organisations.

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