24.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in Nairobi

UNESCO builds capacity in Rwanda on the Information for All Programme and Supports Development of the Digital Talent Policy

UNESCO initiatives to increase access to information and learning for all leaving no one behind, Copyright UNESCO.

17 May 2017, Kigali, Rwanda: UNESCO organized two half day workshops to introduce the Information for All Programme (IFAP) as well as discuss the UNESCO Guidelines on the Inclusion of Learners with Disabilities in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and their integration into the new Rwanda Policy on Digital Talent.

The previous decade has witnessed technological development at a scale and speed unprecedented in the history of mankind. The challenge the world faces today, however, is to ensure equitable access for all people to seize these new opportunities. As a response to mounting national challenges, UNESCO organized three workshops in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) and the Ministry of Youth and ICT (MYICT) around the Transform Africa Summit 2017, through the Korea Funds In Trust initiative (KFIT) to build capacity amongst staff from both Ministries and various other stakeholders.

Information is central to development; it is essential for survival and sustainability; and it is the pathway to understanding and peace. The first workshop therefore discussed the Information for All Programme (IFAP), which is an intergovernmental programme created in 2000 and UNESCO’s response to the challenges and opportunities of the Information Society. Participants not only gained a better understanding of how IFAP functions within and across Member States, but they also explored means for the integration of IFAP into the exiting ICT Steering Committee and other structures. According to discussions with participants potential next steps could include to initiation of a survey on the feasibility of IFAP in Rwanda with regard to digital talent and accessibility to information. It was also suggested to organize further workshops bringing together authorities from Ministry of Sports and Culture (MINISPOC), Academia, Publishers and other relevant entities to discuss the intellectual property rights in Rwanda. Participants were also of the opinion that further advocacy material needs to be produced with clear infographics on the relevance of IFAP in Rwanda.

Rwanda policy documents put the knowledge economy at the centre of development; however, information must be accessible to all including those with disabilities for this goal to be achieved. The ICT in Education Master Plan 2015-2020 states that ‘appropriate accessible and assistive technology will be deployed to ensure equality and accessibility are addressed regarding visual impairments, learning impairments, mobility and dexterity impairments, hearing impairments and deafness, and language impairments’ As such the second workshop focused on presenting the UNESCO Guidelines for the Inclusion of Learners with Disabilities in Open and Distance Learning (ODeL) their integration in the new Rwanda Policy on Digital Talent. During the workshop entry points were also identified to implement the provisions found in the UNESCO guidelines. Participants were exposed to the general theory, practice and methodology for mainstreaming of persons with disabilities (PWD) in policy and strategic documents, building on the case for Digital Talent Policy, why it is important to mainstream PWD in all policy and strategic documents and how it can be done for other Economic Development and Poverty Reduction (EDPRS) sectors. Moreover, additional capacity building should occur including with members of the School of Inclusive Education and working more closely with the National Council of People Living with Disability (NCPD) to mainstream PWD into policy

The workshop targeted ICT in education actors from the Ministry of Youth and ICT, Ministry of Education, Rwanda Education Board, the University of Rwanda, College of Education, and non-governmental organization operating in education. Overall, 33 participants attended.

Participants generally appreciated how well the workshop was conducted in a participatory and interactive manner. In the words of one participant, “The Unesco guidelines for the inclusion of learners with disabilities in open and distance learning (ODeL) were needed and are very important for planning ODeL ahead.

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