What I learned at the 2nd African Ministerial Forum on ICT Integration in Education and Training
On 7 June 2016, I flew to Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire to attend the 2nd African Ministerial Forum on ICT Integration in Education and Training. There, I was privileged to present results from the IEA’s first International Computer and Information Literacy Study (ICILS 2013) to more than 150 representatives from 20 African countries.
The Forum, a regional policy dialogue initiative, exists to assist African states in better exploiting the potentials of information and communications technology (ICT) to achieve their goals of inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long learning.
Presentations and discussions at the forum clearly revealed an urgent need to improve and transform Africa’s education and training systems through relevant and effective integration of ICT. Delegates discussed how to use ICT to integrate marginalized populations, and ultimately prepare learners for future employment and the technological demands of the 21st century.
Efforts are being made in several areas across all countries, including: integrating ICT in education and training policies and strategies, focusing on leadership strategies for policymakers to create a vision for their education systems, and improving school and classroom contexts.
My impression was that more stress should be put into measuring the outcomes of the implemented programs and policies, not only in building ICT competencies, but also toward identifying how using and teaching ICT can help improve student performance in the future workplace and broader society.
When sharing the results of ICILS 2013, I found that many of the findings of the study were confirmed by experiences in the African context. Here, I would like to stress two key conclusions from ICILS 2013:
- Providing technical infrastructure is a major challenge in the region, but it is worth remembering that the availability of ICT equipment is, in itself, no guarantee of success.
- The role of teachers is fundamental to this transformation; they need to be properly trained in the use of new technologies to, in turn, help students become ICT literate.
I invited all African countries to join our next cycle of ICILS 2018. Interested readers can obtain more details at http://www.iea.nl/icils_2018.html, and should note that the field trial will commence in 2017.
The IEA welcomes contributions from all organizations interested in supporting this critical international research endeavor. Organizations and companies interested in exploring options for partnership are invited to contact the IEA to discuss mutual opportunities for collaboration.