UNESCO urges technology integration for equitable and sustainable education

UNESCO’s launch of the 2023 GEM report encourages governments across the globe to ensure EDtech solutions are appropriate, scalable, sustainable and equitable.

 License Plate, Transportation, Vehicle, Architecture, Building, Outdoors, Shelter

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) encourages governments to set education policies so that technology is used to meet learners’ needs and support teachers in their unique capacities and environments. The call was issued on the heels of the launch of the global UNESCO report on technology in education. Findings contained in the report reveal serious gaps in the deployment and operationalisation of technology in the education space, particularly in Edtech. 

Moving forward, this year, the annual Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report, backed by 15 ministers of education from across the world, proposes four areas of contemplation for ministries of education when setting policies in the area. 

  1. Consider whether the technology is appropriate and can improve a specific area and context in pedagogy. The advice seeks to address challenges associated with the fact that over 90% of the open-source online educational repositories are being created by countries within the Transatlantic space.  
  2. Consider urgently the need to connect all schools to the internet to ensure equity. The advice was issued as the right to education becomes increasingly synonymous with the right to connectivity.  
  3. Consider whether technology inputs are scalable, given the long-term costs associated with Edtech and evidence suggesting that only in very few cases has technology had a significant effect on learning. 
  4. Consider whether goals are sustainable. Findings in the report illustrate that very few governments surveyed have concrete plans to effectively equip their labour force with the skills set to be needed in the future, such as those in the area of Generative AI, cybersecurity and data privacy. 

Why does it matter? Technology appears in six of the ten targets in SDG 4. It is highlighted as having an effect in the areas of input, means of delivery, skill, tool for planning, and providing social and cultural contexts. The appropriate, equitable, scalable and sustainable application of technology in education will therefore prepare all demographics within the teaching and learning spaces across the globe to take up present and future areas of work and, by extension, be able to adequately address the world’s complex problems.