Focus on efficient initiatives for ICT integration
The participants in this second session shared their political, institutional or private-sector experiences aimed at optimizing ICT integration so as to provide quality education for all. Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI), the Global eSchools and Communities Initiative (GESCI), and Hewlett Packard took part in this discussion.
When Côte d’Ivoire emerged from the period of instability that had shaken the country, its education system had been bled white. In 2012, the government decided to invest 50 billion CFA francs to get it moving again: hiring teachers, building and/or renovating schools, etc. The integration of ICT in the education system, driven by a strong ICT policy, will be accomplished by, among other things, the computerization of administrative offices (high-speed Internet access, management tools, etc.), the introduction of ICT in teaching practices, and ICT training and instruction for all pupils. The projects are in progress, but several obstacles have already appeared: lack of involvement of the educational community as a whole, foot-dragging by decision-makers to ensure that they have a say in the decisions made, budget problems, etc.
Kenya’s experience with ICT in education is long past the starting stage. Two thousand secondary schools already use this technology, but ICT integration does not consist simply in supplying computers: the government of Kenya has made ICT a pillar of its strategy for the country’s social and economic development. It has put its faith in skill-building for teachers and trainers, development of digital content, the participation of all partners (including civil society, parents, trade unions and religious institutions), innovative ICT infrastructure, and involvement of both the public and private sectors.
A representative of the OEI presented Argentina’s policy on ICT in education. Following the crisis of 2001, Argentina, a middle-income country, passed an education bill in 2006 that called for ICT integration at all levels of the school system and guaranteed that a minimum of 6% of GDP would be allocated to education. An Internet portal for education was set up, to disseminate audiovisual content in particular, and from 2010 to 2013, 3.78 million netbooks were distributed to secondary school pupils and teachers, specialized education centers, and teacher colleges. Teacher training programs were also enhanced.
Next, the GESCI, founded by the United Nations ICT Task Force, presented the progress made in its online training course African Leadership in ICT (ALICT) and Knowledge Society Development, designed for ministry decision-makers, agencies and public organizations. It will be renewed for three years, to reach 500 participants in 16 African countries (including the French-speaking countries this time).
Since “Hewlett Packard is more than just printers!”, in the words of its education director for Africa, HP shared its vision of ICT in education, which in the long term should bring returns on education, after the returns on short-term investment. He noted that successful ICT integration will require not only a major cultural change that takes time and that should involve school principals and teachers as well as pupils and their parents, but also evaluation of and communication concerning this success.
The best practices that emerge from the presentations of this panel, during the second day of the Forum, are quite obvious:
- Strong involvement by decision-makers, supported by long-term financing
- Consideration given throughout the process to all components of the transformation of the education system
- Establishment of public/private partnerships
- Evaluation of the projects implemented.