09.03.2016 -

UNESCO Mobile Learning Week 2016: partnership key to ensure quality education

How can technology ensure all young people, and not just a privileged few, have access to quality learning opportunities?

That was the question posed by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova at the official opening of UNESCO’s flagship ICT event, Mobile Learning Week 2016, taking place at the Organization’s headquarters from 7-11 March, 2016.

This year’s event brings together world technology experts, government representatives, education specialists, project managers, researchers and industry partners to share experiences on how best to forge access and quality to ensure all students receive the education and training they need to fully participate in knowledge economies.

Worldwide access to and use of inexpensive smartphones and tablet computers has grown enormously. Ms Bokova identified four key areas in which mobile technology could and should promote quality education:

  • to support the influx of new students entering education systems in the next decade;
  • to better connect learning to work;
  • to ensure genuine lifelong learning; and
  • to transform the lives of girls and women.  

With regard to girls and women, in low-to-middle income countries, a woman is 21 per cent less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. Nearly 25 per cent fewer women than men have internet connectivity in developing countries -- this gap rises to nearly 50 per cent in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

Ms Bokova said: “…we know the transformational power of education for girls and women, for societies as a whole. We know also that educational opportunities available to girls are often of inferior quality and that women stand on the wrong side of a digital divide. My question is what strategies do we need to ensure women have the same access to mobile technology as men and able to leverage it for learning and empowerment?”

The event is based around three main subthemes; making high-quality education a reality for all learners; improving pedagogy and the relevance of learning, and enhancing management, planning and evaluation spread across four main events: a webinar partnered with Education Fast Forward, 16 workshops, a two-day symposium and a policy forum jointly organized with ITU.

New ICT in Education Policy Platform

The official opening also included the launch of the UNESCO Intel ICT in Education Policy Platform. The platform is the result of close strategic collaboration between UNESCO and Intel to support countries creating and discussing plans and implementation of ICT in Education Policies and Masterplans. Ministry officials, academics, practitioners and other stakeholders engaged in the field of ICT in Education — from primary to higher education — can join policy discussions worldwide and freely access a comprehensive library of materials, interactive tools, and information on news and events.

Rosalind Hudnell, Vice-President of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs and President of the Intel Foundation, said UNESCO and Intel shared a vision of quality in education and that the platform would provide the necessary tools to help realize that vision.

“We cannot afford to leave one piece of the world behind as far as technology and education are concerned,” she said.

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