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Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education (AMFIE): Fostering Favourable Policy Environments for Mainstreaming Sustainable Innovations

19.12.2013

For the past three years, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and Intel Corporation have co-organized the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education (AMFIE) to provide a platform for policy-level dialogue and sharing of promising models and experiences in developing, adapting, and monitoring ICT in Education policies and practices. For 2013, the Forum was organized on 26-28 November in Shenzhen, PR China, in partnership with the PR China Ministry of Education and Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, and the Shenzhen City Government, with support from Korean Funds-in-Trust, KERIS, and World Bank.  With the theme "Fostering Favourable Policy Environments for Mainstreaming Sustainable Innovations", AMFIE 2013 was designed to contribute to the discourse on a healthy balance between top-down strategic policy interventions and bottom-up field-level initiatives to enable relevant, effective, and sustainable educational innovations to flourish and expand.  It was expected to cross-fertilize significant evidences from various country cases and explore local/regional/global partnerships that foster such innovations to guide member states in adapting, planning, implementing, and monitoring appropriate innovations in their local contexts.

The Forum brought together Ministry of Education delegates from 20 countries (eight of which were represented by Ministerial-level officials) from the Asia-Pacific region, experts, practitioners, researchers, and organizers to discuss and examine scalable and sustainable ICT-enabled educational models and innovations in the region and other parts of the world.

During his remarks, UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education Qian Tang emphasized that “in the last many years, UNESCO has been promoting education using ICT because we believe that this is a very effective way to improve the quality, to improve the access, and also to reach the lifelong learning objectives.” He underscored the need for comprehensive strategies in member states in promoting the use of ICT in Education. Such strategies are urgently needed to be able to better respond to the challenges faced in various ICT-related areas, such as deployment of appropriate infrastructure, relevant teacher training and support, quality content, etc. He reiterated the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships and knowledge exchanges to promote ICT in Education and that AMFIE is an important platform for that.

Speakers were invited to share Insights, research evidences, and actual experiences on four comprehensive sub-themes, i.e. Fostering Institutional Change with Policy Interventions; Scaling-up Teacher Professional Development to Support Students’ 21st Century Skills; Promoting Exchange of Discourse among Different Education Stakeholders at Macro-, Meso- and Micro- Levels for Up-scaling; and Case Studies of Mainstreaming School Innovations. Through these sub-themes, the speakers highlighted the synergies amongst policy, research, and practice in promoting and mainstreaming sustainable innovations. Participants actively engaged in multi-directional dialogue on how successful cases of innovations in favourable policy environments could address localized issues and national goals as well as help in increasing relevance of new policies in education.

The highlight of the AMFIE 2013, as traditionally, was the Ministerial Dialogue that engaged the country delegates in a discussion and elaboration on the points raised during the plenary sessions and from the results of the Pre-Forum Country Survey. In particular, the discussion focused on 1) the countries’ pressing issues in the area of scaling up ICT in Education innovations; 2) the different kinds of support they need from various stakeholders and 3) the kinds of support that they can offer to other countries. The Dialogue aimed at creating networks and partnerships that would be able to provide possible solutions to identified issues.

To further enrich the AMFIE 2013 experience, the following activities were added: 1) Gallery Walk that showcased the sustained scalability of seven (7) innovative ICT in Education programmes/ projects implemented within the region by multilateral /development cooperation agencies and the private sector ; 2) Study Visit organized by the Shenzhen Education Bureau that took the participants to different schools in the city to observe how ICT is actually used in the educational setting by both teachers and students; and 3) two separate 3.5-hour workshops that highlighted policy development through the Intel policy toolkit and UNESCO’s experiences from four pilot implementations on the use of mobile technology for education. 

Through the post-Forum feedback form, UNESCO Bangkok was able to establish that country delegates found the sessions relevant and insightful. They also mentioned that they would like to replicate some of the initiatives /programmes presented. Most of them revealed that they will report back to their ministries on the proceedings and initiate dialogue with relevant authorities to discuss which initiatives would be compatible and replicable in their countries.

The outcome document from the AMFIE 2013 will be published in January 2014 through the ICT in Education website.