Press Release

International Telecommunication Union

ITUís Global Telecommunication University establishes first inter-regional node to promote on-line distance learning

Geneva, 1 May 2001 Ė The International Telecommunication Union announced today that the Global Telecommunication University, ITUís non-profit distance-learning project, had established its first inter-regional node on the island of Malta following the signing of a partnership agreement between ITU Secretary-General, Yoshio Utsumi, and Maurice Zarb Adami, Chairman of the Maltacom Group and of Maltacom College International Ltd. According to the partnership agreement, the Dingli campus of Maltacom College, a fully owned subsidiary of the Maltacom Group, has been selected as the site of this first node.

The Global Telecommunication University and Global Telecommunication Training Institute (GTU/GTTI) aims at delivering Web-based remote learning and other training activities to administrations, operators, and regulators around the world. It is based on a worldwide network of nodes, with partners contributing in the form of course content, financing or infrastructure.

"The project offers an excellent opportunity for high-quality education in telecommunications technology to anyone, anywhere and in particular to developing countries", said Maltaís Prime Minister, Eddie Fenech Adami.

The concept of GTU/GTTI was first mooted during the World Telecommunication Development Conference in Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1994), and was later incorporated as a project in the Valletta Action Plan during a similar conference held in Malta in 1998.

The GTU/GTTI will initially offer short eight-week continuous courses and later offer academic courses, the first of them being a 40-week programme leading to a Masters in Communications Management, co-sponsored by Cable and Wireless.

Three categories of courses have been developed:

  1. multi-sector courses, which focus on quality management, management with leadership, marketing, etc.,
  2. "train the trainer" course, incorporating use of technology in distance learning, developing distance learning material and
  3. telecom-oriented courses, covering managerial and commercial aspects, legal and regulatory issues as well as technologies.

In view of the limitations of appropriate infrastructure and Internet access speeds in developing countries the platform has been kept deliberately simple, structured around an intuitive web-conferencing principle, using conventional documents rather than images, multimedia and video streams.

"I am confident that this project will create an environment in which knowledge and expertise in telecommunications can be accessed and exchanged from various countries around the world", Mr Fenech Adami stated.

"Maltaís strategic geographical position in the middle of the Mediterranean offers an excellent training platform at the crossroads of the Euro-Mediterranean, Arab, North African and Eastern European region", said Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the ITU. Commenting on the lack of appropriate human resources, he said that one of the most crucial constraints facing developing countries in their attempts to bridge the gap with the developed world was in human resources development where new delivery paths such as distance-learning could really make a difference.

Maltacom Group Chairman agrees. "Todayís workforce is growing more and more sophisticated and is eager to adopt the lifelong learning concept. As a modern teaching methodology, on-line distance learning provides the ideal solution to develop the critical skills and competencies required in a new working environment", Mr Zarb Adami said, adding that the new node would contribute to that goal.

Economic Services Minister, Josef Bonnici, said that the rise of competition, private sector participation and the proliferation of independent regulatory agencies were not the only changes transforming the industry. He expressed the expectation that the GTU/GTTI project would establish itself as a meaningful support to the ITUís Centres of Excellence vision of developing telecommunications as a means to connect people and societies.

For further information, please contact: 
Mr Manuel Zaragoza
Project Coordinator
ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT)
Tel: +41 22 730 5428
E-mail: manuel.zaragoza@itu.int

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