The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) from the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development emphasise the continued need for quality education and the development of skills for lifelong learning within developing nations. There is also a call to expand globally the access and implementation, particularly for ICT programmes. Information Communications Technology (ICT) refers to the various technologies, tools and devices that are used to transmit, process, store, create, display, share or exchange information by electronic means. With the advent of the technological revolution and increasing digital disruption, world leaders have begun to recognize the value of integrating ICT in education for human capital and economic development. This is especially so for emerging ASEAN nations undergoing education reforms and with a large youthful demographic.
The HEAD Foundation Policy Forum on ICT in Asian Education: Successes, Challenges and New Opportunities will be held in Singapore on 7th and 8th November 2016. During this event, speakers and panellists from academia, international development organizations, and the private sector will convene for an intense 2-day ICT Policy discussion. The convention is based on the premise that it is crucial to promote broad engagement and participation of experts on ICT in education and using the knowledge to approach policy-makers in developing ASEAN nations to advocate for more informed and accountable decision-making.
Where we are
Why ICT in ASEAN Education Matters
The ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2020 is focused on propelling the region towards a digitally-enabled, integrated economy. Equity of access to quality education can be improved with ICT integration in education. When ICT-based teaching and learning resources are widely available to students, they have expanded learning opportunities through connectivity: to access a wealth of online information both in and out of school. For developing countries in ASEAN, this would require greater investments in ICT infrastructure development to ensure both accessibility and affordability and this step could potentially narrow the digital divide amongst ASEAN member countries.
This policy forum will provide a platform for the dissemination of good practices with respect to ICT policy and implementation among ASEAN member states as well as provide inputs to strengthen capacity to meet future challenges. Experts from member states like Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and Thailand will share the lessons to be learned from the comparative ICT implementation initiatives among ASEAN countries over the past two decades. Singapore, for instance, has already implemented four ICT masterplans, including a Future Schools strategy. Several new initiatives are continuing to be announced in other countries embedded within the national strategic plans for ICT in education. The discussion could identify the implications of those proposals and where feasible, suggest solutions and initiatives for adaptation and adoption in other countries. Investing and developing a strong ICT infrastructure and ICT-infused curriculum does not necessarily lead to technology-based learning readiness. It will be important to discuss where we are with pedagogical readiness. Some of the conversations during the two-day session will include ideas on how can we effectively build the capacities of teachers in ASEAN schools to take advantage of ICT in pedagogy. Secondly, what role does ICT play in equitable access to quality education and under what contexts does the potential of mobile technologies comes into play?
The following are some of the broad objectives of the ICT Policy Forum:
- To review the current evidence and state of practice about the contribution of ICT to the achievement of education excellence with equity in ASEAN countries
- To identify, discuss and share best practices in ICT implementation between select ASEAN countries
- To facilitate the policy dialogue about building teachers’ capacity for the effective pedagogical use of ICT.
- To identify possible policy options for ASEAN countries to address enduring challenges in ICT use in classrooms
Where we need to go
A policy brief in creating a better understanding of the policies and processes required to successfully integrate ICT in ASEAN education will emerge from the discussions during the forum. A possibility for developing a research agenda around some of the following key questions is in place. Given that ASEAN nations aspire towards social and economic development and want to participate actively in the global economy, and ICT is a need in the preparation for it, there are clear lessons that can be learned from one another. The following questions will structure the discussions, eventually leading to the policy brief :
- What are the key challenges towards successful integration of ICT in education among developing countries in Asia?
- What are the strengths and capacities of ASEAN member countries in integrating ICT in education?
- Are the current national ICT in education policies aligned with the national educational vision? Do the policies include measurable goals, implementation strategies, a timeframe and key performance indicators to monitor/evaluate the implementation of the policies?
- What are the best practices in countries that have successful models for integrating ICT in education and how can they be adapted to other countries in Asia?
- How can policy makers ensure that students have equitable access to ICT resources for educational purposes?
- What key areas of capacity building are needed to improve ICT integration in education?
Dr. Uma Natarajan is a Principal Researcher at the HEAD Foundation. Her research interests include teacher education, ICT in education and teacher quality.
The HEAD Foundation Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary of topical issues and contemporary developments. The views expressed by the authors are solely their own and do not reflect opinions of The HEAD Foundation.