Strengthening Capacities of Harnessing the Role of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) play an increasingly important role in the way we communicate, learn and live. UNESCO works towards an education system that is conversant with aspects of technology and inclusive of ICTs and takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to promoting ICT in education. Access, inclusion and quality are among the main challenges that can be addressed. In this regard, UNESCO focuses its actions around four key areas: Policy dialogue and capacity development, teacher standards and professional development in ICTs, mobile learning and Open Educational Resources (OER) (37 C/5 Resolutions Draft Document).

The Kigali statement on education of Post 2015 has recognized that achieving quality of education is a matter of urgency in Africa. Noting that educational quality and learning are determined by inputs, processes and outcomes, the Ministers have committed to explore innovative approaches to education, including use of ICTs. They declared that information and communication technologies (ICTs) must be harnessed to strengthen education systems, knowledge dissemination, information access, quality and effective learning, and more effective service provision. System strengthening should also draw on South-South and triangular collaboration and sharing of best practices, adapted to country and regional contexts.

UNESCO therefore works towards an education system that is conversant with aspects of technology and inclusive of ICTs. In the integration of ICTs in learning and teaching, access, inclusion and quality are among the main challenges that need to be addressed.  A review of a number of case studies of ICT in Education Policies indicates that effective ICT in education policies depend on three main pillars, namely: access to ICT infrastructures and equipment; teacher capacities; and monitoring. Therefore, before ICT integration into national education systems can be effective, policy measures need to be in place.

To unleash the full potentials of ICT in underpinning the achievement of post-2015 education targets of “equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030”, agreed at the World Education Forum in Korea, policy makers need to understand ICT's role in delivering equitable and quality lifelong learning opportunities, and the sector-wide strategies of integrating ICT in the post-2015 education agenda need to be informed by debates between education and ICT sectors.

At the International Conference on ICT and Post-2015 Education conference in Qingdao, People’s Republic of China in May 2015, it was pointed out that the successful integration of ICT into teaching and learning requires rethinking the role of teachers and reforming their preparation and professional development. The Qingdao Declaration is the first global declaration on ICT in education, to provide Member States with  policy  recommendations  about  how  to  effectively  use  ICT  to  address  current  educational challenges and to ensure equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all. It highlights in particular the paramount role that teacher development and support will have to play. It stresses that increasing efforts have to be made to promote the culture of open educational resources and the need to ensure quality assurance and recognition of online learning.

The Southern Africa regional meeting on integrating ICT in teaching and learning (23-24 November 2015, Gaborone, Botswana) convened by UNESCO ROSA showed  that education systems in the countries covered by UNESCO ROSA have ensured the ability to exploit the potential benefits of ICT to expand access and enhance the quality and relevance of learning throughout life. The meeting further recognized National Policies in place in several countries to integrate ICT in teaching and learning. Policymakers at the meeting also expressed that access to ICT can help individuals to compete in a global economy by creating a skilled work force and facilitating social mobility. ICT in education policies depend on three main pillars, namely access to ICT infrastructures and equipment, teacher capacities and monitoring policy.

The UNESCO Office for Southern Africa provides support to member states as follows:

  • Support to the enhancement of strategic use of ICT integration into teaching and learning programmes (in pre-service and in-service training) and integrate it into all subject areas (e.g. Through the UNESCO/China Funds-in-Trust Project in Namibia “Capacity Development for Quality in Pre- and Lower Primary Teacher Education in Namibia”, significant efforts were geared towards harnessing the role of technology for quality teacher training. The provision of ICT equipment and trainings brought innovative teaching strategies to classrooms and lecture halls);
  • Support to sharing the Information For All programme (IFAP) strategic plan and its way forward;
  • Support to the creation of synergies and seeking partnerships with organizations and private sector in the Southern Africa region that have expressed interest in jointly supporting ICTs use in education.

REFERENCES

UIS statistical database, 2015.  http://data.uis.unesco.org/

UNESCO (2015) Regional Conferences on Education Post 2015: Outcome Statements.

UNESCO (2012) Learning without frontiers. Telesecundaria, Paris.

UNESCO (2015) Information and Communication Technology (Ict) In Education In Sub-Saharan Africa: A comparative analysis of basic e-readiness in schools. Montreal: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Wallet, P. (2012) Survey on Education: The role of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in measuring global and regional statistics related to e-readiness in schools. Article

Resources

Report of the Southern Africa Regional Meeting on Integrating ICTs in Teaching and Learning 

 

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