With 2015 approaching quickly on the horizon, UNESCO hosted the High-Level Policy Forum on Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Education for All (EFA) to explore how ICT has contributed to the EFA goals thus far, and to begin to define the lessons learned since 2000 that will be incorporated into the post-2015 global education agenda.
Held from 10-11 June 2013 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the Policy Forum had four key objectives: (1) to review the contribution of ICT to the EFA goals, (2) to facilitate the policy dialogue about supporting teachers’ pedagogical use of ICT; (3) to share the new and emerging trends; (4) and to elaborate recommendations about the role of ICT for the post-2015 education agenda.
Among the featured speakers at the event were Dr. Qian Tang, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, and keynote speakers Mr. Jerome Morrissey, Chief Executive Officer of GESCI, Mr. Morten Søby, Director General of the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education, and Mr. Cheah Horn Mun Director of the Educational Technology Division of the Singaporean Ministry of Education.
The Secretariat underlined the importance of partnerships and close collaboration with other international organizations and the private sector, using the examples of UNESCO’s mobile learning initiatives and the ICT Competency framework for Teachers, developed with Microsoft and Cisco.
Panelists hailing from various African, Asia-Pacific, European, Latin and North American countries also considered the hot-button issues of ICT for access to education, views of international organizations and the private sector, ICT in education and teachers, UNESCO’s Strategy on ICT and industry views.
The event’s varied perspectives allowed for a rich exchange of ideas. It also resulted in greater awareness of the best international ICT practices to achieve the EFA goals. Key takeaways highlighted the importance of:
- Ensuring equal access to ICT learning;
- Supporting policy environments favorable to the use of ICT in education;
- Making policy goals accessible;
- Awareness that introducing ICT will holistically transform the Education Sector;
- Being mindful of the major importance of teachers as key actors in the transformation of education;
- Creating communities of practice, especially based on Open Educational Resources and Creative Commons licensing;
- Scaling up lessons learnt at the forum and fostering the sustainability of projects and programmes.
The Forum provided much food for thought and input to UNESCO’s Strategy for ICT in Education, which is crucial to determining UNESCO’s agenda towards the EFA goals in 2015 and beyond. The Strategy emphasizes the organization’s role in assisting Member States to harness the potential of ICT towards achieving these goals.
UNESCO does this by providing Member States with tools and technical advice for including ICT in education policies, strategies and activities. Among the themes are: Technology policies in education, Teachers’ effective use of technology, Mobile learning, Open educational resources, Learning outcomes, Inclusive education and Gender equality.
The Policy Forum was able to foster fruitful discussions thanks to the attendance of participants from more than fifty key educational players and stakeholders of UNESCO Member State governments, the private sector, non-profit organizations, and UNESCO and other ICT in education experts.
The event was co-organized by the People’s Republic of China and the ICT in Education Team of the Division for Teacher Development and Higher Education within the Education Sector of UNESCO. The full meeting report to be released soon will be available online.