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Policy makers re-examine implications and effectiveness of ICT use in education


UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) and Intel Corporation organized the Asia Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education (AMFIE) 2011 in partnership with The Department of Education of The Philippines, SEAMEO INNOTECH, World Bank and KERIS. The Forum, which took place on 13 – 14 July 2011 in the heart of Manila, brought together Ministers and key decision-makers from 19 countries in the Asia and Pacific region for policy exchanges under the theme “Evaluation and Assessment: Effective and Safe Use of ICT in Education”.

Over recent years, the focus in education policy for many governments has been on the integration of information and communications technology (ICT) into educational development plans. The Asia and Pacific is no exception to this, given the growing number of countries in the region whose education policies incorporate ICT as a means to achieve the national education goals. This new found focus has translated to increased use of ICT in all aspects of education development, from fostering students’ so-called 21st Century Skills, to facilitating teachers’ professional development and improving access to knowledge and information literacy through ICT.

The trust in the power of ICT is warranted considering the myriad advantages that may result from judicious ICT use in education. Yet as governments invest substantial amounts of budget to harness the potential of technological innovations, the question of how best to monitor and evaluate the efficacy of ICT-enhanced teaching and learning begins to arise, especially in terms of the impact on learning outcomes, return-on-investment and possible threats to students and educators incurred by exposure to ICT. In view of this, UNESCO Bangkok has joined efforts with partners to organize the Asia Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education 2011 under the theme “Evaluation and Assessment: Effective and Safe Use of ICT in Education” to bring to the attention of participating education leaders the critical issues many in the world face.

In total, 19 countries were represented in the Forum. Of these, ten were represented by Ministerial-level officials or Ministers or Education. Experts and veteran policy makers in the area of ICT in Education shared a wealth of insights in four highly relevant keynote sessions, i.e. Monitoring and Evaluating ICT in Education at the National Level, Cyber Risks for Students and Teachers, Assessment of 21st Century Skills and New Learning Outcomes, and Evaluation of ICT in Education e-Projects. Among the distinguished speakers are those dedicated to advancement in ICT in education working in various development contexts from within the region and from other parts of the Globe.

The Forum culminates in the Ministerial Dialogue during which policy-makers engaged in idea and experience exchanges with high officials from various countries, reflecting back to the points raised in the experts’ keynotes. UNESCO member states in the Asia and Pacific are greatly diverse in their stages of educational development, strengths and challenges, and such diversity sometimes occurs even within the country. Hence, these governments face a wide range of hurdles in education development. For this reason, the occasion for interaction with fellow decision makers was considered highly useful for the participants as it was a golden opportunity to learn from others’ past successes or lessons, and to foster relationships that could bring about strategic collaborations.

As His Excellency Brother Armin Luistro, Secretary of Department of Education succinctly said in his opening remarks, “…it is almost impossible to talk about improving education quality without touching on ICT.  … ICT in education provides an opportunity to bridge gaps not only in infrastructure but more importantly, in the very same deficits and limitations mentioned that militate against our reform initiative.” ICT in education is no longer a novelty or luxury enjoyed by more affluent nations. Ultimately, the role of ICT in education is to support teaching and learning practices, enhancing the ways that educators can fulfill human development goals. Thus it is crucial that governments raise their capacity to exploit it to the advantage of their national context and needs. It is the hopes of UNESCO and its partners that AMFIE will become a catalyst in building that capacity.