Honourable Minister Mr. Prakash Javadekar - Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India;
Honourable Minister Dr. Phineas Langa Magagula, Ministry of Education and Training of Swaziland
Dr. Subhash Chandra Khuntia, Secretary, Department of School Education and Literacy (DSE&L), Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), Government of India;
Professor Hrushikesh Senapaty: Director, National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT);
Dr. Mmantsetsa Marope – Director, UNESCO-International Bureau of Education (IBE)
Representatives from Google Inc.
Representatives from UNESCO International Institute of Technology for Education (IITE);
Guest Speakers from various organizations;
Organisers of this Forum;
Government officials from the various countries;
All delegates at this Forum
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am deeply honoured to have been invited to this International Forum on Adopting an ICT Perspective to Education and Learning as well as given the privilege of delivering a keynote address on the adoption of an ICT perspective to education and learning.
I would like to thank our host, Honourable Minister Mr. Prakash Javadekar of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) for hosting us and the hospitality extended to my delegation and all delegates at this Forum.
On behalf of the people of South Africa and their Government, I would also like to take this opportunity, to thank the UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education (UNESCO-IBE) and its partners for organizing this Forum. We are all eagerly waiting to learn from each other experiences, and, hopefully the Forum outcomes will help all of us to accelerate progress in the ICT in Education space
I am sure you will all agree with me, that many Ministries of Education, particularly in developing countries are experiencing challenges in providing inclusive and equitable quality education, as well as promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all, as required by Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) of the United Nations.
In addition, Africa’s vision for the next half a century as captured by the African Union’s “Agenda 2063”, has a goal on producing well educated citizens and skills revolution underpinned by science, technology and innovation. This adds further pressure to our task of delivering the appropriated educational outcomes for society in this ever changing era of artificial intelligence and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
It is evident that ICTs are increasingly playing an important role in providing solutions to many of the challenges we face in delivering quality education. These are challenges such as ensuring equity, inclusivity, 21st century skills and access to educational resources as well as learning opportunities.
I concur with UNESCO that “ICTs can contribute to universal access to education, equity in education, the delivery of quality learning and teaching, teachers’ professional development as well as improve education management, governance and administration provided the right mix of policies, technologies and capacities are in place”.
It is therefore not surprising that the Global Information Technology Report 2016 highlights an upward trend in the adoption of ICT. In Africa, this trend has been government-driven in some countries such as Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire, and business sector-driven in other countries such as South Africa.
However, South Africa is taking bold steps to realise the vision of ICT led education as spelled out in our developmental blueprint, the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP states that ICT is seen as an enabler with the potential to speed up delivery, support analysis, build intelligence and create new ways to share information, learn and engage. The NDP says by 2030:
- ICT will underpin the development of a dynamic and connected information society and a vibrant knowledge economy that is more inclusive and prosperous.
- A seamless information infrastructure will be universally available and accessible to all.
To achieve the above as instructed by the NDP, Programme Director, I am happy to report that South Africa has thus created an ICT masterplan through the Presidential Operation Phakisa programme. The ICT masterplan is aligned to the Department of Basic Education Action Plan to 2019. The Operation Phakisa ICT interventions are focusing on providing an end-to-end ICT solution to schools through digital content development and distribution using offline and online platforms, provision of connectivity, hardware, teacher professional development and e-Administration systems. This will ensure that teaching and learning experiences match the needs of the changing world. This approach is supported by our assertion that “greater use of technology, backed by high-speed broadband, could open new opportunities” for teachers and learners.
Some notable progress so far includes the launch this year of a Professional Development Framework for Digital Learning which we developed in partnership with UNICEF. This serves to guide all teacher development stakeholders as we raise the bar on quality learning and teaching.
We have also launched the first blended learning university-accredited course on Leading and Managing Education Change with Digital Technologies. The course is open to all our Teacher Centre Managers and e-Learning Specialists from all nine provinces. The course delivery is done through our partnership with the University of Johannesburg - supported by Vodacom, Microsoft, and UNICEF.
We have commenced the roll-out of Imagine Academies to 60 Teacher Centres which will serve to grow the digital learning competencies through certified and accredited programmes for teachers and youth. We have just sent a strong delegation of provincial and national officials as well as teacher unions on a study tour to North Carolina, USA to learn how they have reached 200 000 certifications with learners and teachers through their Imagine Academy programme. Microsoft, Vodacom, UNICEF and the MICT Seta have been key partners in this endeavour.
We have also joined a programme spearheaded by the National Education Board of Finland called the Leading Countries of the World Programme. This programme serves to foster knowledge sharing about the transformation journeys of many countries and how they have integrated digital learning in their systems.
Programme Director, in South Africa, we came to a realisation that as Government alone we cannot accelerate progress in the ICT arena, hence we have mobilised international partners such as UNICEF and global technology giant such as Microsoft to name just a few. We are confident that through more partnerships and new ideas to emerge from the Conference, we will achieve our goal of the ICT roll-out to all schools by 2019.
I am confident that the discussion and activities of this Forum will translate into increased capacity for leveraging on ICTs to transform the education sector.
I would like to, once again, thank UNESCO, the organisers of this Forum, partners, all speakers, and delegates for supporting this Forum.
I thank you.