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Education

Lessons from the drafting of national educational technology policies

Michael Trucano's picture
let me make sure to press the right levers in the right order so that I’m in harmony with everyone else
let me make sure to press the
right levers in the right order so that I’m
in harmony with everyone else

Begun in 2004 by the ICT/education team at UNESCO-Bangkok, who were later joined by AED, Knowledge Enterprise and the infoDev program of the World Bank (where I worked), the ICT in Education Toolkit for Policy Makers, Planners and Practitioners was utilized as part of policy planning and review processes in over thirty middle and low counties in the course of the following decade.

In support of face-to-face and online interactions that typically lasted for many months (and in a few cases, years), mainly in countries in East Asia and the Pacific, the Toolkit provided interactive instruments and step-by-step guidelines to assist education policy makers, planners and practitioners in the process of 'harnessing the potential of ICTs to meet educational goals and targets efficiently and effectively'.

The toolkit was designed with the needs of two specific groups in mind: (1) Key decisionmakers in countries and educational institutions as they struggled with the challenge of introducing and integrating ICTs into education; and (2) program officers and specialists in international development agencies as they identified, prepared and appraised ICT-in-education projects or ICT components of education projects.

The ICT in Education Toolkit itself is no longer in use -- with the great changes in technology over the past ten years, maintaining an online toolkit of this sort proved to be too difficult. That said, a number of key lessons emerged from this effort which might be quite relevant to policymakers going forward who are seeking to provide policy guidance, direction and oversight on issues related to the use of new technologies in education systems.

Here are some of them:

Changing lives along the road in Honduras

Marcela Silva's picture

We arrived in the village of La Redonda-El Aguila, Honduras at ten o’clock in the morning, when the temperature was already about 94 degrees Fahrenheit. We were warmly welcomed and invited to take a short walk to the place they had prepared specially for us to hold our meeting. We were offered bean tamales and coffee, and began the meeting with members of two road maintenance microenterprises that are supported through a World Bank-financed project.

The microenterprises program was launched in 2013 under the Second Roads Rehabilitation and Maintenance project with a goal of creating 10 microenterprises to maintain 310 kilometers (192 miles) of roads. The routine maintenance work includes cutting and clearing vegetation on both sides of the road to ensure good visibility, cleaning drainage systems, keeping the roads free of debris and occasionally patching holes in the road. Microenterprise members earn wages from their work, which they invest into their households and communities.

Each microenterprise is supported by a supervisor, usually a civil engineer, who teaches members how to do the road maintenance work efficiently and effectively. Additionally, members learn how to meet conservation standards, as well as gain understanding of why maintenance activities are so important to extend the life of the road. The supervisor performs a progressive evaluation and on-the-job training for all micro-entrepreneurs. Upon completion of the training, the microenterprise is granted a contract to carry out labor-intensive routine maintenance activities over a stretch of road (at a ratio of about three kilometers per partner) for a period of 12 months, which is renewable subject to satisfactory performance. 

Ultimately, the program empowers entrepreneurs to become permanent contributors to the conservation of their roads. 

Celebrating a fighter for freedom and education

Claudia Costin's picture


Fernando La Sama de Araujo, the recently deceased Minister of Education of Timor Leste, was a freedom fighter and a visionary leader. “La Sama”, which means unbreakable, dedicated his life to the service of his country, Timor-Leste and was recently engaged in a plan to improve the quality of education. I received this news with great sadness, especially due to the engaging meetings we had in Dili, where I was on mission just a few days before he passed away. 
 
Minister La Sama was a leader of Timorese students’ resistance movement in Indonesia and spent six years in prison in Jakarta, together with Xanana Gusmão. Following independence, he held several public positions: President of the National Parliament, Acting President, and Vice Prime-Minister. Following leadership transition in February 2015, Minister La Sama his position as Minister of State, Coordinating Minister of Social Affairs and Minister of Education. 

State of global development: Why 2015 is a pivotal year for ending poverty

Jim Yong Kim's picture
© Arne Hoel/World Bank


In this series, professionals debate the state – and future – of their industry. Read all the posts here and write your own (use #MyIndustry in the body of your post).

I work in one of the most rewarding fields imaginable – helping low- and middle-income countries develop so that poor people have a fair chance at reaching their full potential. My field of work is at a critical crossroads, and it is no exaggeration that the decisions we make this year will have an impact on everyone in the world and especially the poorest.

MOOCs in China are growing

Yidan Wang's picture



Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) refer to any online learning or use of education technologies. In China, a country of 1.4 billion people, these are growing.

The Chinese government expects MOOCs to bring “revolutionary” change to the education system by reducing inequity in quality of education between urban and rural schools and by sharing the best teaching resources. One of the government’s goals is to train 13 million k-12 (“k-12” is the sum of primary and secondary school years) teachers on education technology skills in the next five years through MOOCs. Yes, you read it correctly, 13 million teachers. 

Back to school in Nepal. What has changed?

Dipeshwor Shrestha's picture
Biswash, a 12 year old staying at the temporary camp in Uttar Dhoka showing the Dharahara collage he made.
Biswash, a 12 year old staying at the temporary camp in Uttar Dhoka showing the Dharahara collage he made. 
​Photo - Suresh Ghimire
On April 25, the day of the earthquake, my colleagues and I were organizing the final student exhibit to mark the end of our 12-week school session. There were 12 kids and their parents when the earthquake struck. Our first instinct was to keep the kids safe; we managed to stay calm, gathered everyone into an open space and stayed strong. After the aftershocks subsided, we got news of how devastating the earthquake actually was. We immediately called our loved ones. It was a relief that everyone we knew was safe.
 
I am a teacher at Karkhana, an education company that designs and delivers hands-on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths)-based content to middle school students in Nepal.
The first two days after the quake, we quickly realized that people without any specialized skills such as first aid, sanitation, nursing, construction, and rescue were not of much help in the immediate relief efforts.

The only way to contribute was to do what we are already good at - teach.

Trust, Voice, and Incentives: how to improve education and health services

Mario Marcel's picture

Girls sitting exams in the Middle East
Bill Lyons / World Bank

A new World Bank report addressing the widespread dissatisfaction of citizens with the delivery of essential public services and calling for accountability in public service delivery in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region was released a few weeks ago.

The statistics in Trust, Voice, and Incentives: Learning from Local Success Stories in Service Delivery in the Middle East and North Africa  are grim, as nearly three quarters of MENA students are scoring “low” or “below low” in international student performance tests and one third of the public health clinics in MENA countries lack essential medicines and staff.

The good news, however, is that the report also sheds light on local success stories in health and education where, against serious odds, a number of clinics and schools have managed to deliver quality servicesto citizens. The examples from Jordan, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories highlight the power of collaboration and mutual trust between citizens and public servants to produce better results.

#KidsEndPoverty: What can you — and your kids — do to help?

Korina Lopez's picture

Today, June 1, many countries around the world mark Children’s Day, offering an opportunity to reflect on the kind of world our kids will inherit. Let’s join together to make a better worldone free from extreme povertybefore they grow up. Together we can end poverty by 2030 and ensure a better world for today’s kids and all children in the future. Share this blog post with your kids, or children from your community, and submit their artwork to be considered for World Bank social media channels. 

​​Imagine a girl named Maya. Maya lives in a poor country where her parents work all day, and she can’t go to school because she has to care for her baby brother. Even though her parents work very hard, they barely make enough to feed the family, much less buy school supplies for Maya. She and her family live out in the country, and there are no roads for buses to take Maya to school, even if there was someone to care for her brother while her parents work. Education means learning to read, write, add, and subtract. Kids need to learn all these things to find jobs when they grow up. No education means very little access to jobs. Is it fair that just because Maya is poor that she can’t go to school, just like you?

On International Children’s Day, Reflecting on the Impact of Early Childhood Development

Daphna Berman's picture

On International Children’s Day, we reflect on the kind of world our children will inherit. To prosper in a rapidly changing world, all children need more than basic literacy and numeracy. They need to be creative, critical thinkers and problem-solvers. Early childhood development can help level the playing field from the early stages of life.

Research questions about technology use in education in developing countries

Michael Trucano's picture
let's investigate this systematically ...
let's investigate this systematically ...

Back in 2005, I helped put together a 'quick guide to ICT and education challenges and research questions' in developing countries. This list was meant to inform a research program at the time sponsored by the World Bank's infoDev program, but I figured I'd make it public, because the barriers to publishing were so low (copy -> paste -> save -> upload) and in case doing so might be useful to anyone else.

While I don't know to what extent others may have actually found this list helpful, I have seen this document referenced over the years in various funding proposals, and by other funding agencies. Over the past week I've (rather surprisingly) heard two separate organizations reference this rather old document in the course of considering some of their research priorities going forward related to investigating possible uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to help meet educational goals in low income and middle countries around the world, and so I wondered how these 50 research questions had held up over the years.

Are they still relevant?

And:

What did we miss, ignore or not understand?

The list of research questions to be investigated going forward was a sort of companion document to Knowledge maps: What we know (and what we don't) about ICT use in education in developing countries. It was in many ways a creature of its time and context. The formulation of the research questions identified was in part influenced by some stated interests of the European Commission (which was co-funding some of the work) and I knew that some research questions would resonate with other potential funders at the time (including the World Bank itself) who were interested in related areas (see, for example, the first and last research questions). The list of research questions was thus somewhat idiosynscratic, did not presume to be comprehensive in its treatment of the topic, and was not intended nor meant to imply that certain areas of research interest were 'more important' than others not included on the list.

That said, in general the list seems to have held up quite well, and many of the research questions from 2005 continue to resonate in 2015. In some ways, this resonance is unfortunate, as it suggests that we still don't know answers to a lot of very basic questions. Indeed, in some cases we may know as little in 2015 as we knew in 2015, despite the explosion of activity and investment (and rhetoric) in exploring the relevance of technology use in education to help meet a wide variety of challenges faced by education systems, communities, teachers and learners around the world. This is not to imply that we haven't learned anything, of course (an upcoming EduTech blog post will look at two very useful surveys of research findings that have been published in the past year), but that we still have a long way to go.
 

Some comments and observations,
with the benefit of hindsight and when looking forward

The full list of research questions from 2005 is copied at the bottom of this blog post (here's the original list as published, with explanation and commentary on individual items).

Reviewing this list, a few things jump out at me:


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