[Read more session reports from WSIS Forum 2017]
The session addressed the issues of how capacity building and e-learning can help to ensure promotion of a strong, sustainable, and knowledgeable society. The session was moderated by Ms Jessica Dheere, (Co-Founder and Co-Director, Social Media Exchange SMEX).
Answering a question about key challenges which prevent realising the potential of e-learning in building knowledgeable societies, Dr Cosmas Zavazava (Chief of Department, Projects & Knowledge Management, Telecommunication Development Bureau, ITU) noted such problems as access, use of ICT, and skills building. In rural communities, even if they have Internet and ICT coverage, the level of literacy can be too low to use ICT resources effectively. Dr Zavazava stressed that the transformation, efforts, political will and favourable changes in regulation have been seen in order to promote e-learning. However, the main issue is the ability to impact the eco-system.
Zavazava noted that transforming e-learning can also touch other spheres, particularly e-health. For example, projects have been launched using ICT to combat Ebola epidemics in West Africa.
Describing activities in India directed towards digital literacy capacity building, Mr Sanjay Kumar Rakesh (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology of India) noted that the government of India has a large scale programme with a projected 600 million people to be trained in digital literacy in the next three years. This is despite India’s social-cultural barriers to traditional education, but Kumar expressed the belief that the handicaps of traditional education can be overcome on the way to digital literacy.
Dr Kokula Krishna Hari Kunasekaran (Association of Scientists, Developers and Faculties, International Secretary of India) observed that a truly advanced society has to build from a global perspective. He also explained the meaning of ‘volunteer individualism’ in the digital age, relating to the fact that while people are connected digitally, they are in reality physically separated.
Answering a question on political vision for e-learning in Djibouti, aimed at combating the digital divide, Mr Abdi Youssouf Sougueh (Minister, Ministry of Communications, Posts & Telecommunications Djibouti) spoke about the country’s 2030 national strategy, which includes an action plan on integration of ICT. In particular, this will use technologies to build an ICT centre, and cover issues on bridging the digital divide, as well as other issues. Sougueh emphasised that Djibouti is at the beginning of deep changes regarding e-learning.
Observing ministerial declarations, which have been developed recently and take on the issue of e-learning, Mr Richard Beaird (Consultant, Wiley Rein LLP) noted certain common characteristics in:
- Reference to free flow of information
- E-learning which should stimulate openness and transparency
- An emphasis on public sector cooperation
- Development of entrepreneurial skills
- Overcoming the gender digital divide.
He also noticed that ministerial declarations are becoming more practical. They aim not only to reach citizens and students to bring them digital skills, but also to interact with centres of knowledge. He stressed that creating centres in which ideas can flourish and innovation can be encouraged is a consequence of a movement in the direction of smart cities, smart environments, and smart schools. Mr Beaird concluded by saying that ITU is a good case study of bringing together global experience, with for example fifty universities associated with ITU.
by Nazgul Kurmanalieva