A joint ITU/UNESCO Policy Forum on mobile learning brought together for the first time 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.
Held under the framework of ITU’s m-Powering Development Initiative, the Forum was a highlight of this year’s UNESCO Mobile Learning Week (MLW), which had the theme “Innovating for Quality”.
The 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.
“ICTs will go a long way towards achieving inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all, as envisioned by the Sustainable Development Goals,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “The growing power, affordability and ubiquity of mobile technology offers an unprecedented opportunity for governments to make great strides in lowering the barriers to education and connecting teachers and students to a wealth of resources via mobile devices.”
“Meeting the full promise of mobile learning calls for supporting innovation and scaling up what works,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. “To succeed calls for comprehensive mobile learning policies and a shared political framework encompassing access, equity and teacher training. By drawing a bridge between telecommunications and education stakeholders, this Forum provides a unique platform to build partnerships that foster mobile learning environments that work for all.”
“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,” said Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau. “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,” he added.
The MLW Forum comes just ahead of the 13th full meeting of the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development in Dubai, UAE, which will look closely at the role of broadband in education, among other issues. The meeting is being hosted by Commissioner Sunny Varkey alongside the annual Global Education & Skills Forum.
ITU’s m-Powering Development Initiative 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 which brings 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.