Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here with you in Paris this afternoon for this meeting of the Broadband Commission’s Working Group on Education.
I am delighted with the new report, ‘Technology, Broadband and Education: Advancing the Education for All Agenda’, which is the principal outcome of this working group.
The report highlights a number of key messages that I think we are all well aware of here within this working group, but which still need much wider dissemination in the outside world.
Firstly, it is clear that broadband really is ‘the missing link’ in terms of global access to education. Indeed, the ability of broadband to improve and enhance education, as well as students’ experience of education, is undisputed.
A good and well-rounded education is the basis on which future livelihoods and families are founded, and education opens up minds, as well as job prospects.
Bring broadband into the picture, and students in developing countries can access prestigious university libraries anywhere in the world; unemployed workers can retrain and improve their job prospects in other fields; and teachers can gain inspiration and advice from the resources and experiences of others.
With each of these achievements, the online world brings about another real-world victory for education, dialogue, and better understanding between peoples.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to UNESCO as the lead author of this report. We are also grateful for the collaborative input which came in from a large number of Commissioners and their organizations, including Alcatel-Lucent, the Connect-to-Learn partnership, Intel, and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as individual Broadband Commissioners Ivo Ivanovski, Suvi Lindén, Jasna Matić and Special Advisor to the Commission, Paul Budde.
In a world where over 60 million children of primary school age are not in school, the report is both timely and necessary, and endorses a number of strategies that governments and other stakeholders involved in education should embrace.
The policy recommendations include: increasing access to ICTs and broadband; incorporating ICTs into job training and continuing education; teaching ICT skills and digital literacy to all educators and learners; promoting mobile learning and open educational resources; supporting the development of content adapted to local contexts and languages; and working to bridge the digital divide.
Next week, many of us will be in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress, and I look forward to promoting this report – and notably at a special panel session being run by Alcatel-Lucent next Wednesday on mobile learning.
We will also be presenting the report to all Commissioners at the 7th full meeting of the Broadband Commission, which of course is taking place in just three weeks time in Mexico City – and I will look forward to seeing you there, and to leveraging this and other opportunities to raise awareness of this most important issue.
Broadband has the power not just to revolutionize education but to bring it into the lives of everyone, no matter where they live and what their circumstances – and that is a noble goal that we can all work towards achieving.