For 2014 – More meat, less meetings, please?

I concluded my 2013 journey by attending the UNESCO brainchild on the northern tip of Africa – the 1st African Ministerial Forum on ICT integration in Education. Three days in the Tunisian capital sought to explore avenues for solving problems related to learning and education on the African continent.

The single highlight of the conference came from the Korean example where Dr Peck Cho from Dongguk University in Seoul, presented the conditions that enabled Korea to emerge as one of the leading models of successful integration of ICT in education.

The rest of the summit, with the exceptions of the vibrancy around Professional Teacher Development, dabbled largely between lessons learnt from existing examples, outside of the continent sprinkled with a few pilots around ICT integration on the continent.

The example from South Africa that challenged the scandalous omission of factors within Special Needs Education in the dialogue on ICT integration in education, came from Ms Nafisa Baboo from Cape Town.

There were very few critical voices from governments on the lack of political will and its negative impact on ICT integration in Education. On the other hand, there were a great deal of words from the sponsors from Microsoft, Intel, Telecommunications companies and Hewlett Packard on the avenues that will need to be taken in the new world of learning.

A long road lies ahead for the continent and it was not helped at all that a lack of practical next steps, low presentation of women and mere repetition of the obvious pervaded the entire summit.

More was achieved, it appeared, in the dialogue that organizations, businesses and small government delegations engaged in to explore next steps for their respective projects.

I really hope that 2014 will provide more of substance in these gatherings and less of talking.

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