Making mobile technology extend equitable education

A policy forum on mobile learning proved to be the highlight of the 2016 UNESCO Mobile Learning Week (MLW).Jointly arranged by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the forum recently brought together Ministers of Education and Ministers of Information & Communication Technology (ICT) to examine the role that policies and cross-sectoral collaboration can play in fostering innovation and the use of mobile technology to improve the quality, equity and accessibility of education. The forum was held under the framework of ITU’s m-Powering Development Initiative, which is designed to give advice and share recommendations on how to deploy ICT services, from m-Health, m-Learning and m-Governance to m-Commerce and m-Sport.

UNESCO Mobile Learning Week is an annual event bringing together experts from around the world to share how affordable and powerful mobile technology – from basic handsets to the newest tablet computers – can accelerate learning for all, particularly people living in disadvantaged communities. Held in Paris, France, to promote the theme of ‘Innovating for Quality’ in education, the 2016 event featured a ministerial high-level roundtable, which looked at how increasingly affordable digital devices can help address urgent educational challenges and meet the needs of students, teachers and administrators. Ministers also explored ways to create synergies between national policies in the areas of technology, education, telecommunication and innovation.

During the forum, participants from Latin America discussed how m-learning was being used in the region to address key education issues such as literacy, access and retention. An interactive dialogue between public and private sector stakeholders was also held examining how to establish strong public private partnerships for infrastructure provision, technical support and learning resources development.

Brahima Sanou, director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau, added, “This Policy Forum marks the start of an important collaborative effort between the education and ICT sectors to design policies that will build comprehensive and sustainable strategies for the digital learning revolution. Using ICTs and mobile devices for learning is about empowerment. It is about empowering teachers with extremely rich resources for improving their teaching methods and allowing students to take a more active role in their own education both inside and outside the classroom.”

The MLW Forum was held just ahead of the 13th full meeting of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in Dubai, UAE. Hosted by hosted by ITU Commissioner Sunny Varkey alongside the annual Global Education & Skills Forum, the Dubai event was arranged to examine the role of broadband in education, among other issues.

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