Mainstreaming ICT into Namibian education system
UNESCO, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Commonwealth of Learning, is bringing together stakeholders in ICT and Education in Namibia for a two-day workshop. The event, which will take place in Windhoek from 25 to 26 June 2012, aims to emphasize the power of ICT policies in transforming education.
The upcoming workshop in Windhoek builds on the priorities of the Education and Training Sector Improvement Programme (ETSIP) 2005-2020 and on the directives of the 2011 National Conference on Education. It aims to contribute towards better prioritization of ICT in the education sector, to strengthen all the information institutions and to improve equitable access to information and learning resources.
The four sessions of the workshop will focus on:
- identifying key changes that must be made at the policy, systemic and programmatic level to bring about more effective results in the implementation of the ICT Policy for Education;
- reviewing the draft Open and Distance Learning (ODL) policy of Namibia;
- investigating the strategic decisions to be made in order to deploy the ICT infrastructure (both hardware and software) in the education system; and
- analyzing the current teacher training curriculum, and the possibilities to mainstream media and information literacy into teacher training curriculum.
One of the priority sub-programmes of ETSIP highlights the need to mainstream ICT into the education system. The 2011 National Conference on Education has also taken this issue at hand and has called for the roll-out of computers to schools, making the use of ICTs in classrooms more flexible by deploying mobile computer labs and expanding the existing community learning centres and libraries in terms of lifelong learning and open and distance learning.
Warren La Fleur, Business Development Manager for Microsoft in East and Southern Africa, says, “We at Microsoft have always believed that ICT is an enabler of society at every level, but particularly in education. Our relationship with the Namibian Ministry of Education highlights our passion for education and covers teacher training, systems and processes and the overall ICT capacity of civil servants. This two-day meeting is an important part of the development of ICT in education.”
For ICT in education to be effective, a set of variables has to be taken into account: objectives; availability of technologies, applications and content; and teacher capacities. Only then ICT could contribute to building new relationships between schools and their communities, and to bridging the gap between formal, non-formal and informal education.
According to Alaphia Wright, Director of UNESCO’s Office in Windhoek, “UNESCO continues to promote the building of inclusive knowledge societies, creating awareness of the potential of information and communication technologies for development. ICTs play a significant role in enhancing the access to, and quality of, education; they offer an opportunity to transform and develop education as through mobile science or broadband access to learning materials.”
Policy is a living process and ICT is a moving target. Many countries develop policies for ICT in education to emphasise their participation in the knowledge society of the 21st century: to increase competitiveness; to recognise that familiarity with ICT is today a core skill; to improve the quality of teaching and learning; and to make government and society more efficient. While countries have implementation strategies a challenge that emerged is to ensure that policy and implementation are in sync. (Adapted from Sir John Daniel and Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić, COL.)