The African Development Bank, UNESCO, OIF, Intel, and ADEA, partnering together, are committed to creating a regional policy dialogue mechanism to assist member states to harness potentials of ICT to achieve the goal of quality education for all.
This mechanism is expected to promote shared understanding of relevant ICT integration in African education and training systems and foster political commitment in engaging ICT in education and training.
It will also promote a network of all public sector actors in this field, and more than ever public-private partnerships between governments, educational services and industry and technology companies. Innovative initiatives that promote ICT integration will be emphasized.
As the launch activity of this regional policy dialogue mechanism, the first Ministerial Forum will be held on December 9, 10 and 11 in Tunis. The forum will bring together policymakers, experts, development partners and representatives of ICT private sector and civil society. The organization of this ministerial forum will therefore provide a platform for regional high-level policy dialogue and knowledge sharing on how to harness the potentials of ICT integration in:
1. providing universal access to quality education and developmental opportunities to All Africans;
2. equipping learners with skills that empower them to become full actors of knowledge society;
3. promoting through the educational system a culture of digital literacy and creativity which are necessary for Africa to build innovation capacity for the IT industry.
The forum is also expected to provide a setting to incubate projects that can potentially be supported by the key partners of the event, or to roll out successful solutions or project models to other relevant countries.
Research shows indeed that there are nowadays a considerable number of initiatives to introduce ICTs in education and training systems in Africa, and that there now exist a pool of African and international experts with sufficient knowledge in the issues that need to be addressed. Conditions are therefore in place to support African education and training systems’ quest to enter a phase of methodical and programmed ICT integration by developing relevant and effective National Policies and Strategies of ICT Integration in Education & Training in order to:
1. catalyze and accelerate the necessary transformation of education and training systems by improving relevance and quality and increasing access, in lines with objectives of national education policies;
2. empower learners with the critical ICT knowledge, skills and qualifications to become full actors of knowledge society and drive and enable sustainable development; and,
3. provide learning and skills development opportunities to marginalized populations, including female and rural learners.
Such would imperatively require operating few paradigm shifts deemed very critical for the successful development and implementation of relevant and effective policies and strategies. These paradigm shifts constitute the following elements:
1. Development and implementation of ICT integration strategies should be driven by education policy objectives and, therefore, led by ministries in charge of education and training.
2. ICT integration should be learning-oriented, which in turn will have implications such as redefining pedagogic approaches and the roles and responsibilities of ministries in charge of education and training with respect to providing the needed technologies.
3. Education should remain the responsibility of All, not only that of governments, education policy-makers, administrators and experts. This implies that only partnership-based approaches – among ministries, civil society, agencies, private sector - will lead to expected outcomes of ICT integration.