UNESCO and INTEL co-host South Asian Ministries of Education Forum in New Delhi
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Intel; co-organized a two day long South Asian Ministries of Education Forum (SAMF 2013) focused on ‘Translating ICT-in-Education Policies into Action - up to 2015 and beyond’ in New Delhi. SAMF2013 is a platform for officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to deliberate on ICT in Education Master Plans and share best practices. The delegates shared experiences and discussed strategies on the roles and uses of information and communication technologies in education.
The SAMF 2013 witnessed opening remarks by Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director, UNESCO New Delhi and a Special Address by Debjani Ghosh, Managing Director, Intel South Asia on Bilateral and Multilateral Regional Cooperation of the South Asian Ministries of Education on harnessing ICT use in and for Education. Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Hon'ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Governmentof India delivered the closing keynote address.
In the opening session of the two day summit, Mr. Shigeru Aoyagi, Director, UNESCO New Delhi said “India along with the rest of South Asian countries has a rich history and expertise in education development, and governments as well as a number of premier educational institutions have been putting a strong focus on promoting Education for All. With rapid advancement of ICTs, the governments and institutes are currently working towards building an enabling ICT environment in education sector; but there are still many challenges yet to be addressed. Therefore, we aim to work together to achieve Education for All incorporating ICT in Education to ensure quality and inclusive education for every girl and boy and woman and man.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Hon’ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Government of India said “Effective, scalable and motivational education policies can result in the development of a nation by sowing seeds of learning and skills in the youth of any nation. Education transformation is a global priority and the use of ICT in and for education will be imperative for this transformation. I am delighted to be part of this conclave of the best minds from the South Asian region that have collectively discussed various actionable strategies on leveraging ICT for educational transformation.” Closing his speech, he further added “I would like to commend UNESCO New Delhi and Intel India for coming forward to collaborate towards contributing to the growth of South Asia.”
This South Asian Ministerial Forum focused on tracking progress on development of ICT use in Education in the South Asian countries and the latest National policies in this regard. It also outlined the need for strengthening the integration of ICT in Pedagogy and Teacher Professional Development as well as the development of a Master Plan for ICT in Education by establishing partnership within the country and collaborating at the sub-regional level.This forum helped delegates to familiarize themselves with the process of converting policies into action plans, identifying levers for change and finding ways of aligning ecosystems as well as designing strategies, schemes to accomplish their goals of providing quality education. UNESCO is tasked with coordinating progress to achieve by 2015 the six Education for All (EFA) goals agreed to by 164 countries at the World Education Forum (Dakar, 2000). The SAMF 2013 also discussed how to ensure that the issues around use of ICT in Education are effectively addressed and also have an appropriate place in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
Ms. Debjani Ghosh, Managing Director, Intel South Asia said “Intel firmly believes in the transformative power of technology and that an effective education led transformation can help countries increase student competitiveness, build job skills and competencies, thus, support economic development and provide social cohesion. This can never be achieved in isolation and we all need to work together towards achieving sustainable social and economic growth and development through discourse over innovation, technology, and skills development. The need of the hour is policies and action plans aligned to education goals to ensure that all students obtain the skills necessary to succeed in a knowledge-based economy and society.”
Given the rapid developments in ICT in recent years and the different forms of technologies that are available for use in education, policy makers are in need of a set of tools that can be used throughout the planning process to provide policy options regarding the effective use of ICT in education.The ‘UNESCO ICT in Education Toolkit for Policy Makers, Planners and Practitioners’ collaboratively developed by policy makers in the Asia Pacific region in response to the need for a systematic approach to integrating ICT into education at the national level. This South Asian Ministerial Forum had been initiated as a follow-up to the important discussions held at the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education (AMFIE) in 2012, which was the third in the series of forums.