Broadband networks have the potential to radically alter the education landscape, creating new centres of learning in the developing world, extending access to distance learning programmes to outlying communities, and helping poorer countries retain high-performing students, says a new report by ITU and UNESCO.
The report “Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda” has been published by the Working Group on Education of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.
The Broadband Commission for Digital Development was launched in 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in order to advocate the harnessing of the power of the internet and other information and communication technologies in the effort to reach the 2015 Millennium Development goals, including primary education for all.
The newly published report emphasizes the importance of deployment of broadband as a means of accelerating progress towards the universal education goal.
Says ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun I. Toure:
“The ability of broadband to improve and enhance education, as well as students’ experience of education, is undisputed. […]A student in a developing country can now access the library of a prestigious university anywhere in the world; […] teachers can gain inspiration and advice from the resources and experiences of others. With each of these achievements, the online world brings about another real-world victory for education, dialogue, and better understanding between peoples.”
Participation in the global economy is also increasingly dependent on the skill of navigating the digital world. Many systems, however, fail to adequately train students in how to become responsible digital citizens, or prepare them to sustain their employability throughout their lives in a knowledge economy.
Expanding access to, and proper use of, information and communications technology (ICTs) should solve this challenge, while at the same time increasing the efficiency of school systems.
The report thus endorses a number of strategies that governments (particularly those in the developing world) and other stakeholders involved in education should embrace in order to reap the full benefits of ICTs:
1. Increase access to ICTs and broadband
2. Incorporate ICTs into job training and continuing education
3. Teach ICT skills and digital literacy to all educators and learners
4. Promote mobile learning and open educational resources
5. Support the development of content adapted to local contexts and languages
6. Work to bridge the digital divide
The report will be presented to all Commissioners at the 7th meeting of the Broadband Commission, which takes place on March 17 in Mexico City.
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