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Press Release: Harnessing digital skills and mobile learning ...

Harnessing digital skills and mobile learning for inclusive sustainable development

Policy Forum advances multistakeholder and collaborative dialogue on leveraging information and communication technology to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

Geneva, 24 March 2017

​The second joint ITU/UNESCO Policy Forum on Mobile Learning was held in Paris, France on 24 March 2017.

The Policy Forum was jointly organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The Forum brought together ministers of education, ministers of information and communication technology (ICT) and representatives from the private sector to discuss how e-skills and mobile learning can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including in the context of emergencies and crises.

The Policy Forum took place during this year's UNESCO Mobile Learning Week the theme of which was "Education in Emergencies and Crises".

"ICTs are increasingly central to work and education, and acquiring skills to leverage these technologies has never been more important," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. "Learning digital skills can foster creativity and innovation needed in the rapidly expanding digital economy and be a catalyst to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially among vulnerable groups including refugees and displaced people."

"The world is being transformed by technology, but too many people are being left behind because they lack the digital competences to harness this revolution," said UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova. "We need more collaborative action to develop inclusive policies geared towards ensuring that all young people, especially the most vulnerable, are digitally literate so they can access mobile learning content that can open doors of opportunity. We have a responsibility to provide such solutions to refugees and other displaced people – one of the chief aims of this Mobile Learning Week Policy Forum."

"The holding of this Policy Forum for the second consecutive year is a clear demonstration of ITU's commitment to establishing inclusive, multistakeholder and collaborative dialogue on telecommunications and ICTs to achieve socio-economic development," said Brahima Sanou, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau.

"Mobile technology offers unprecedented power for users to access information and services that can create life-changing opportunities in education and employment," he added.

Participants at the Policy Forum discussed the interrelation between e-skills, mobile learning, employment, protection and inclusion. They also shared experiences of successful e-skill and mobile learning initiatives and outlined strategies to create synergies between national policies in the areas of technology, education, telecommunications and innovation.

The issues discussed at the Forum included: e-skills for sustainable development; how e-skills can contribute to socio-economic inclusion; the role of mobile operators, service providers and manufacturers in the development and provision of e-skills over mobile phones and how countries can ensure that new technologies can support inclusion and equity in education.