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Regional workshop discussed ICT in Education policy, infrastructure and ODA

On March 5th and 6th, the ICT-in-Education division of UNESCO Bangkok, with the generous support of the Korean Institute for Science and Technology (KIST), convened a Regional Consultation Workshop on ICT in Education Policy, Infrastructure, and Official Development Assistance Status. The workshop was attended by delegates with expertise in ICT-in-Education from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, along with senior staff from KIST and UNESCO Bangkok.

The workshop was a final step in the review and updating process of a forthcoming publication by UNESCO Bangkok on the status of ICT-in-Education in selected ASEAN countries. In his welcoming address, Etienne Clement,  Deputy Director of UNESCO Bangkok, noted the that ICT-in-Education was a primary driving forces behind the realization of UNESCO’s mission to achieve universal access to quality educational opportunities. This mission was continued in a speech by Byung-Ok Yoon, Secretary-General of KIST, who described the need for research to link educational outcomes to innovative technologies such as robot-enhanced learning.

Representatives from KIST provided a demonstration of their research on the contstruction of robots for use in early childhood education. The robots facilitate basic administrative tasks while providing a flexible and adaptable source of lesson material. Early research results have shown great potential for the use of these robots with children with learning differences. While country delegates agreed that the universal application of ‘r-learning’ was not yet a possibility, the demonstration provided a strong reminder of advances being made at the frontiers of ICT-in-Education. 

The assembled country delegates then provided a series of frank assessments on recent changes to the overall policy environment regarding ICT in Education, including focal points and key decision-making criteria. Those countries receiving official development assistance (ODA) described the successes and failures of their interactions with the international community, closing with firm recommendations for best practices moving forward.  As expected, each nation had unique challenges to confront in its quest to provide the best possible education for all students. The workshop results will be synthesized into a final report by UNESCO Bangkok which will be published within the year.

Given the successful sharing of information and building of relationships, workshop participants agreed to work towards developing annual meetings. There was firm agreement that the development of a network of connections between ministries, schools, and educational organizations across the ASEAN region was critical to meeting each nation’s goals for the development of ICT-in-Education.