Broadband connectivity carries unprecedented potential to bridge education divides, transform learning and improve skills for the globalized economy provided that governments make broadband accessible, empower teachers and students to use technology, support the production of local language content and promote open educational resources, says a new report just released by the Broadband Commission for Digital Development.
Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda, the outcome report of the Broadband Commission’s Working Group on Education
, provides a vision of how access to high-speed technologies over both fixed and mobile platforms can be extended so that students and teachers everywhere can reap the benefits – for themselves and for their communities.
The report was presented during the opening session of the World Summit on the Information Society +10
at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters from 25 to 27 February, in the presence of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and Hamadoun I. Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), who co-chair the Broadband Commission. It will be presented to all of the Broadband Commissioners at the 7th meeting of the Broadband Commission, on March 17 in Mexico City, hosted by the Carlos Slim Foundation.
Coordinated by UNESCO, it emphasizes the importance of deployment of broadband as a means of accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education and the Education for All goals. Less than three years away from the target date for achieving these goals, 61 million children of primary-school age, and a further 71 million of lower secondary-school age, are not in school; and an estimated 1.7 million extra teachers will be needed to achieve universal primary education. In addition, close to 793 million adults – 64% of them women – lack literacy skills, with the lowest rates in sub-Saharan Africa and South and West Asia.
The report recognizes that participation in the global economy is increasingly dependent on skills in navigating the digital world, but warns that traditional school curriculums still tend to prioritize the accumulation of knowledge above its application, and fail to train students in the ICT literacy skills they will need to ensure their employability in the knowledge economy.
The report confirms that, by 2009, in OECD countries about 93% of 15-year-olds had access to a computer and the Internet at school, with a ratio of eight students per computer. In developing countries, on the other hand, access to ICT facilities remains a major challenge. For example, a study in Kenya
, published in 2010, stated that only 3% of schools had Internet access, while in most African countries, there are on average 150 schoolchildren per computer.
While fixed broadband infrastructure constitutes the bulk of high-speed connectivity in many countries, the ICT service with the steepest growth rate is mobile broadband. According to ITU figures, in 2011, growth in mobile broadband services was 40% globally and 78% in developing countries, where it is often the only way of connecting to the Internet.
Download the full version of the new report at: http://www.broadbandcommission.org/work/working-groups/education/BD_bbcomm-education_2013.pdf