Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova urged educational policy makers to use ICT wisely and ensure the universal accessibility of ICT in education that would lead to quality education.
Knowledge and education can be used to build confident in young women and men as well as to allow them to stand on their two feet, she said at the opening of the Asia-Pacific Ministerial Forum on ICT in Education (AMFIE) 2012 held in Bangkok last week.
"ICT can and must serve this essential goal," she added and continued: "We must ensure that ICT are accessible, and that they bridge divides and favour inclusive education, that they draw on appropriate content, and that they support quality teaching."
This requires effective capacity development and policy dialogue, according to Bokova. However, Bokova strongly emphasised the role of teachers to best use technology for better learning. "Technology can be a powerful education multiplier, but we must know how to use it. It is not enough to install technology into classrooms – it must be integrated into learning. Nothing can substitute for a good teacher."
She continued that it is not technology itself that empowers people, empowerment comes from skills and knowledge.
Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education inserted that ICT, if used wisely, can contribute to universal access to quality education informal, non-formal and informal education settings across sectors.
"However, ICT in education only works when it is closely aligned with a clear national vision, explicit implementation strategies, feasible action plans and solid monitoring and evaluation," he said.
Kim stressed that each country in APAC has its own education context and unique challenges. Integrating ICT in education varies widely—from least developed countries where electricity supply in schools is scarce, to middle income countries where there is high demand for assistance in developing effective ICT policies, to high income countries where there are concerns related to rapidly growing harmful effects stemming from over-supply of, and easy access to ICT.
The AMFIE was held this year by UNESCO in co-operation with the Thai Ministry of Education and Intel Cooperation under the theme "The Power of ICT in Education Policies: Implications for Educational Practices" to present challenges and updates on innovative policy making practices.
Delegates from 20 countries across the Asia Pacific Region including 15 on ministerial level, 36 senior officials and international experts attended the Forum.