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Broadband Commission releases report on importance of ICTs in Education

Posted Tue Mar 05, 2013 by Tara Stafford

This week at Mobile World Congress, the Broadband Commission for Digital Development’s working group on education launched the important report entitled "Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda." The report emphasizes the point that, as the world shifts more and more toward a “knowledge economy,” teaching 21st century skills that include digital and information literacy will be key to the success of nations.
Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), thanked the work of Connect To Learn (CTL) for our input to the report. Connect To Learn is proud to be at the forefront of implementing these recommendations in our ongoing work providing access to ICTs and broadband in rural areas and particularly for girls, by providing teacher professional development in the integration of ICT, and by developing locally relevant open educational resources.
The report offers a lay of the current global landscape with regard to ICTs in education, outlining how the digital divide is caused by a combination of factors that include issues of affordability of ICT resources; policy-maker, teacher and school-level capacities; inclusion; online/digital educational content; and quality assurance.
The report goes on to make the case that ICTs in education can support teachers by streamlining  lesson planning and student tracking processes and offering teachers a wealth of teaching resources through the Internet. The report also highlights the potential of ICTs to be used in teacher training, particularly in hard-to-reach areas. Mobile broadband technology is highlighted for its’ potential to reach broader audiences at lower costs and faster rates than fixed broadband, and that much of the remarkable growth in access to connectivity is a result of mobile broadband technology. Mobile technology is also noted for its potential to offer more targeted, customized  learning possibilities for students.
With regard to broadband policy, the report explains that, though many Ministries of Education have put in place policies calling for broadband in all schools, progress toward this goal has been slow and inconsistent, and existing data being collected on connectivity in schools tends to lack precision regarding the types of connectivity and speed available.
The report includes a section specifically on women and girls, noting that nearly twenty-five percent fewer women have access to internet than men, and that the number of girls pursuing careers in ICT is disproportionately low. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is addressing this issue through their International Girls in ICT Day initiative. Connect To Learn has been addressing the issue of girls' education since it's launch in 2010, providing  multi-year secondary school scholarships for girls to attend schools where we are making ICT investments such as netbook computers, mobile broadband connectivity and access to teaching and learning resources.
In conclusion, the report offers six recommendations:
  1. Increase access to ICTs and broadband, particularly for women and marginalized groups
  2. Incorporate ICTs into job training and continuing education to support 21st century skills
  3. Teach ICT skills and digital literacy to all educators and learners
  4. Promote mobile learning and open educational resources available online
  5. Support the development of content adapted to local contexts and languages
  6. Work to bridge the digital divide among and within countries
 Read more about Connect To Learn's recent work in these areas on our blog and Facebook page.