Session: Sustainable Development & the Internet Economy
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Mr Tijani Ben Jemaa (moderator), ICANN, Civil Society – Tunisia, said that the WSIS 11 action plan on E-learning was considered by heads of states as one of the key pillars for building an inclusive information society. He quoted the WSIS action line, ‘ICTs can contribute to achieving universal education worldwide through delivery of education and training for teachers and offering improved conditions for lifelong learning’.
The workshop focused discussions on some core issues concerning the adoption, the implementation, and the development of ICTs, Internet and education, in the developing countries with experience and case studies by countries who have concrete plans for implementing ICTs in education.
Ms Ines Hfaiedh (Organiser), Government, Tunisian Ministry of National Education, shared her experience as a teacher and suggested some ways that will guide countries in developing plans for ICT education:
Professor Xiang Zhou (Co-organiser), Intergovernmental, China Association of Science and Technology, presented on the usage of ICT in education as it pertains to the Asian region. He said, ICT has great potential to accelerate human progress and reduce the great digital divide to achieve the SDGs in the 2013 agenda. He acknowledged the fact that there is a division on the balance of social and economic development on SDG infrastructure, however, many countries have made great progress with digital resources like digital textbooks in primary and secondary schools. He said some countries have a master plan on ICT implementation. A good example is Singapore which was ranked first in the world on the network readiness index with a very high performance on other indicators. Others include Korea which also has a good master plan as well as China which also made significant progress in promoting ICT education as stated below:
Dr Tao Xiaofeng, ICT for science and technology, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, talked about open universities and open courses in China. He said, the objective for the open university was to address the higher/wider standard of scholarship access to higher education, and also to promote lifelong learning regardless of time and location by using internet technology. He explained why they use science technologies to provide higher education through radio and television as well as using the internet teaching platforms to interact between students and teachers. Open courses like iCourse, MUK, etc., narrowed the education gap through open courses and open universities.
Mr Benjamin Akinmoyeje, Government, Management Sciences for Health (MSH), who participated remotely talked about open educational resources from around the African continent. He said open education has been provided to people who could not afford to leave their work place and go to school but want to keep their work and at the same time get an education. By using open source tools like MOOCs (mass online courses) and educational resources, students need not buy university books but can make use of these online materials. Concluding his talk, Benjamin thinks ICT is finding an amazing relevance in Africa especially in Nigeria, and open resources are really the way to go.
In his concluding remarks, Tijani encouraged developing countries to implement their ICT policies for education since ICTs are tools for ensuring quality education. He also emphasised the need for infrastructure. However quality content is needed to access on this infrastructure. Finally, he called for the active inclusion of young people and how they are needed. He added that, ICT innovations and courses are carried out by young people, that the youth are very active and we must involve them so that we can improve the inclusion of ICTs in education.
by Ivy Hoetu, Internet Society Ghana