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Making a million teachers tech-savvy

30 September 2009

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UN has partnered with major educational agencies to address the digital gap in schools by providing necessary technological expertise and infrastructural support. Millions of teachers worldwide will be trained annually under the programme.

An alliance bringing together Silicon Valley, UN agencies and the educational community is taking measured aim at the digital divide in global education – avoiding the errors of early attempts to force-feed personal computers on schools ill-equipped to put them to use.

Image credits: Google/ Teachers and technology

The action plan was adopted recently at a global forum on ICT (information and communication technologies) in education in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey, an industrial and high-tech powerhouse in its own right.

"Train and certify one million teachers annually at the knowledge-deepening level; and at the level of knowledge creation"

Among the objectives of the partnership are to train and certify one million teachers annually at the ¨technology literacy" level; one-quarter of a million at the "knowledge-deepening" level; and 100,000 teachers per year at the level of "knowledge creation".

"The first generation of digital aid to education concentrated on shipping as much hardware as possible to developing world institutions," said Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman of the UN´s Global Alliance for ICT & Development (UN GAID).

But in many cases computers are under-utilised by educators without necessary training or tech support, and/or are discarded because of technical glitches, creating hazardous waste situations.

"While continuing to find ways to make hardware available where it is of most benefit, the partnership will stress sustainability, in terms of helping governments to develop supportive infrastructure and human resource development," said Abu-Ghazaleh.

"This approach is in line with our philosophy that the drivers of development must be grassroots populations, local governments, local institutions and local businesses.”

Among the partners joining GAID in the "Monterrey Consensus on ICT in Education" are the Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative, the International Commission on Workforce Development, the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organisation, Intel, Cisco Systems, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, International Research and Education Organisation, and NComputing.

Partners are developing frameworks for action with host governments, based on agreed principles and clear goals and targets, and formulated in terms of demand-driven country programmes.

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