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Meeting in Montevideo discussed ICT statistics in education

The second meeting of the Working Group on ICT Statistics in Education (WISE) was held from 2 to 4 December 2009 in Montevideo, Uruguay. It was organized by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) in cooperation with UNESCO’s Office in Montevideo.

Thirty delegates from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as representatives of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), UNESCO Offices in Brasilia and Santiago de Chile, and the World Bank, discussed indicators to measure the use of ICT in education. The working group was set up by UIS in 2008 under the auspices of the Partnership on Measuring the Information Society, a multiple agency stakeholder body mandated to monitor the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals.

While the first WISE meeting in Rabat (Morocco) in March 2009 prepared an international pilot survey on ICT in Education, the objective of this second event in Montevideo was to discuss the results of the pilot in order to refine and complement the questionnaire for its rollout phase in 2010. In particular, the meeting aimed to review the analytical assessment of the pilot study, to examine the new draft for the survey rollout, to learn from methodological challenges, to give recommendations and to create collaborative frameworks using synergies among agencies to assist Member States in their statistical capacity development.

The experts in ICT statistics discussed data availability and the suitability of indicators based on countries’ specific information needs. The debates helped to clarify definitions and to improve ambiguous questions. At its international launch in 2010, the survey will be structured in five key areas, capturing ICT-specific national education policies, public funding of ICT in education, ICT facilities and institutions, qualification of teachers in ICT-enhanced teaching and access of ICT-enhanced classes to students. The survey is supposed to provide fundamental information on countries’ progress towards the realization of knowledge societies.

Participants also visited the Uruguayan Ministry of Education and two public primary schools in Montevideo to learn from Uruguay’s experience with the Plan Ceibal. Plan Ceibal is a national educational plan, in the scope of which Internet-connected laptops have been distributed to all public primary school children in Uruguay at no charge for students’ families or schools. Laptops are used in all school subjects for educational purposes as well as at home, where computers also benefit children’s families. As Uruguay is the first country to fully implement the modality “1 laptop - 1 child”, the evaluation of Plan Ceibal’s impact is supposed to provide essential insights in informing further improvement to the UIS data collection efforts.