UNESCO stresses teachers’ role in maximizing use of ICT in education
23 November 2012
“We must ensure that information and communication technologies are accessible, “Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova said.
Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova said knowledge and education can be used to to build confidence in young women and men and allow them to stand on their own two feet. Information and communication technologies can and must serve this essential goal, Bokova said. Bokova was speaking at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education 2012, in Bangkok.
“We must ensure that information and communication technologies are accessible, that they bridge divides and favour inclusive education, that they draw on appropriate content, and that they support quality teaching. This requires effective capacity development and policy dialogue – this is why this annual forum is so important,” she said.
For the past two years, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok and Intel Cooperation co-organized Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forums on ICT in Education (AMFIE) for policy makers to present challenges and updates on innovative policy making practices. This year with cooperation of the Thai Ministry of Education, the 3rd Forum was held under the theme “The Power of ICT in Education Policies: Implications for Educational Practices” in Bangkok.
Delegates from 20 countries across the Asia Pacific Region including 15 on ministerial level, 36 senior officials and international experts attended the Forum.
Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education said during his inaugural speech: “Information and communication technologies (ICT), if used wisely, can contribute to universal access to quality education in formal, non-formal and informal education settings across sectors. However, ICT in education only works when it is closely aligned with a clear national vision, explicit implementation strategies, feasible action plans and solid monitoring and evaluation.”
Each country has its own educational context and unique challenges. In Asia and the Pacific, the status of integrating ICT in education varies widely – from least developed countries where electricity supply in schools is scarce, to middle income countries where there is high demand for assistance in developing effective ICT policies, to high income countries where concerns relate to the rapidly increasing harmful effects due to over-supply of, and easy access to ICT.
At present China has been promoting equity, aiming to narrow the digital divide among regions and schools, while Malaysia and Indonesia have set focus on improving quality of education through teacher development.
Through the “One Tablet Computer per Child” project, Thailand has been supplying all Grade 1 primary students with a tablet computer in 2012, and distribution will be expanded to Grade 1 secondary students next year.
General Yuthasak Sasiprapha, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand said at the Forum that free WIFI is planned to be provided in future for every school and in many public areas.
“Currently, Thailand's broadband network reaches only 33 percent of the total population. We aim to expand that coverage to 80 percent of population over the next three years, and to 95 percent of the population by the year 2020,” he said.
The Republic of Korea and Singapore have implemented comprehensive and evolving national technology strategies in education master plans.
Director-General of UNESCO Bokova, however, strongly emphasized the role of teachers to maximize the use of technology for better learning.
“Technology can be a powerful education multiplier, but we must know how to use it. It is not enough to install technology into classrooms – it must be integrated into learning. Nothing can substitute for a good teacher.
“It is not technology itself that empowers people - empowerment comes from skills and knowledge,” she said.