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 NEWSROOM : ITU PRESS RELEASES

 Global Schoolnet Alliance Created for World Summit

Students and Educators to examine how Information Society affects application of 
Human Rights Declaration 


Geneva, 18 September 2003 - The World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva 10-12 December 2003, will bring together educators who manage school networks in up to 40 countries to harness the potential that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play in preparing students for a knowledge-based ‘information’ society. In the months leading up to the World Summit, students around the world will examine the relationship between ICTs and human rights through a series of online activities. 

They will explore how the right to give and receive information has changed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was first written in 1948, and rewrite Article 19 (Freedom of Expression) and Article 26 (Right to an Education). Through this study they will address issues raised by the new ICTs and discuss whether it is possible to protect freedom of speech while preventing "hate speech." They will also suggest ways that ICTs can help build cross-cultural understanding and a culture of peace. 

The event, co-organized by the United Nations Cyberschoolbus and the European Schoolnet (www.eun.org), culminates with a live, online interaction between students and a Head of State on 11 December 2003 -- one day after the 55th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To take part in these activities, teachers must register at http://www.cyberschoolbus.un.org  

The Schoolnet event seeks to build a global alliance of ICT educational networks linking millions of students, which could serve as a focal point for educational projects on peace education, human rights, and other social issues, as well as serving as a resource for local community development projects. 

“The alliance of ICT educational networks formed at the Summit will help governments achieve the goal of an information society that benefits all,” says Bill Yotive, Project Manager of the United Nations Global Teaching and Learning Project.

The meeting at the Summit will give a boost to these developing infrastructures and will help establish greater communication, coordination, and assistance between the school networks. 

“The Summit offers a unique opportunity to strengthen a relatively new infrastructure that is being built to connect schools through the Internet,” adds Yotive. 

“At the Summit we will discuss how building an infrastructure is just the beginning of developing ICT in education,” says Brigitte Parry, European Schoolnet Networks Manager. “Basic services should be accessible by all, no matter where they are or what background they come from. We are particularly looking forward to creating an international community of young people, who are learning, exploring, and sharing their thoughts about the crucial issues of democracy, human rights and access to information and technology.” 

In addition to this initiative, a WSIS Poster Competition has been launched by UN Cyberschoolbus in preparation for the Summit. The competition will offer students (ages 9 and up) from around the world an opportunity to convey their vision on how ICTs can create an information society for all. Entry forms can be obtained from the UN Cyberschoolbus Website http://www.cyberschoolbus.un.org/wsis/guidelines_entryform.asp  

Students can choose from six different themes, all of which focus on finding innovative ways to bridge the “digital divide” -- the growing gap between countries that have access to information and communication technologies and those that do not.

About the United Nations Cyberschoolbus
The UN Cyberschoolbus (www.cyberschoolbus.un.org) is an online education component whose mission is to promote education about international issues and the United Nations. The primary goals of this project are to build a global online community of teachers and students, provide opportunities for students to participate in finding solutions to global problems, and to make the issues the UN deals with more accessible to children and youth.

About European Schoolnet
European Schoolnet (www.eun.org) is a unique international partnership of 26 Ministries of Education developing learning for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe and beyond. It provides insight into the use of ICT in Europe for policy-makers and education professionals. This goal is achieved through communication and information exchange at all levels of school education using innovative technologies, and by acting as a gateway to national and regional school networks.

About WSIS
The World Summit on the Information Society provides a unique opportunity for all key stakeholders to develop a common vision and understanding and to address the whole range of relevant issues related to the Information Society.

It aims to bring together Heads of State, Executive Heads of the United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society entities, industry leaders and media representatives to foster a clear statement of political will and concrete plan of action to shape the future of the global information society and to promote the urgently needed access of all countries to information, knowledge and communication technologies for development.

The Summit has been endorsed by the UN General Assembly and will take place under the auspices of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, with the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations specialized agency for telecommunications, taking the lead role in its preparation.

The Summit will be held in two phases: Geneva (10-12 December 2003) and Tunisia (16-18 November 2005).

 

 

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