13.01.2016 - Education Sector

ICT in Education Prize Honours Projects from Costa Rica and Singapore

© UNESCO/P. Chiang-Joo - The ICT Winners : Costa Rica and Singapore

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova awarded the 2015 UNESCO-King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education to the Omar Dengo Foundation’s National Programme of Educational Informatics in Costa Rica and the Open Source Physics project developed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education during a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on 13 January 2015.

“This ceremony is an opportunity for us to celebrate together the vision at the heart of the Prize, which seeks to promote more inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all,” said the Director-General. Recalling that 2015 was a turning point for education marked by the Incheon Declaration and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Ms Bokova highlighted the scope of the challenge ahead, with some 57 million children still out of primary school and 781 million illiterate adults. “Education is a fundamental human right and powerful development multiplier. This is why we must make the most of every driver for enhanced access and quality. Information and communication technologies have a special role to play here.” She noted that the Education 2030 Framework for Action sets an ambitious agenda that calls on Governments and partners to harness the full potential of ICTs for equity and quality. “We know ICTs cannot  be bolted onto learning, they must be built in from the outsets, and this is why this education of the Prize focuses on pedagogical innovation in the use of ICTs in teaching and learning,” she said, warmly thanking the Deputy Prime Minister for Bahrain’s generous support to the Prize.  

The Deputy Prime Minister, His Highness Shaikh Muhammad Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, emphasized that “education is the basis of human development. It is through education that quality of life is improved and that we can suppress ignorance and illiteracy.” He outlined the Kingdom of Bahrain’s educational achievements, its commitment to inclusion and to harnessing ICT for literacy and skills, including through training in Gulf Cooperation Council countries and the launch in 2015 of the Digital Empowerment in Education towards 2030 initiative.

The Chair of the International Jury, Ms Dorothy Gordon, praised the quality and range of the contributions received and announced the two Prizewinners.

The project “National Program of Educational Informatics” (PRONIE) of the Omar Dengo Foundation (Costa Rica), contributes to improving the quality and equity of learning opportunities within the public education system through the use of digital technologies. It gives priority to marginalized children and youth from rural and marginal urban areas. Since 1988, 8,674,521 students have benefited from the program in pre-schools, primary schools, secondary schools and TVET schools. The program PRONIE has developed an outstanding systematic approach to enhance students’ capacities to create ICT products across the school system. Furthermore, the program also focuses on teachers’ continuous training and monitoring to improve their teaching skills in educational informatics.

The Ministry of Education of the Republic of Singapore is rewarded for its project “Open Source Physics@Singapore”. The project has been developed by the Educational Technology Division of the Ministry of Education since 2012. Its goal is to give users, including students and teachers, the freedom to learn from, build on and share well designed ICT resources for teaching and learning physics. An outstanding innovative tool, “Open Source Physics@Singapore” for learning physics using an open platform, including open source code and open content, was developed. Both students and teachers work in a collaborative and innovative way, benefiting from the adaptable resources that it provides for better learning and teaching. So far, 9,800 students have been reached by the program in primary, secondary and TVET schools. In addition, the software application enhanced collaboration between the educational community, the Ministry and industry. It is easily scalable to a larger community as the tools and content are available worldwide.

The winners were selected by the Director-General of UNESCO on the recommendation of an international jury which examined 112 applications from 57 countries and 9 NGOS in official relations with UNESCO.  Funded by the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Prize rewards individuals, institutions, or non-governmental organizations for projects and activities that demonstrate best practices and creative use of information and communication technologies to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance. The US $50,000 annual Prize is to be divided equally between the two Prizewinners.

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