Two separate International Forums on ICT in Education took place in the People’s Republic of China as part of the UNESCO-CFIT Project, focusing on the importance of ICT in Education and its indisputable potential to assist in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. In accordance with the Qingdao Declaration (2015), the International Forum on ICT and Education 2030 in Qingdao, and the Dujiangyan International Forum acknowledged that today’s world has made knowledge and familiarity with ICT essential for every girl and boy, woman and man. Considering ICT’s promotion in education as key for achieving the goals of Education 2030, the Forums presented a floor for lectures and discussions on the topic.
The first International Forum on ICT and Education 2030 organized by UNESCO in Qingdao, People’s Republic of China, took place on 10-11 July, and focused on the importance of ICT’s implementation in education. Main objectives of the forum were sharing of national policies and programmes, that aim to capture digital innovations to accelerate the achievement of SDG4, exploration of digital innovations and best practices that could be scaled up to enable new school models and transform the educational provision, formulation of partnerships and development of action plans around flagship projects on leveraging ICT to take SDG4 forward.
At the International Forum on ICT and Education 2030, UNESCO IITE was represented by Mr. Tao Zhan, Director of IITE, and Ms. Natalia Amelina, IITE’s Chief of Section of Teacher Professional Development and Networking. Mr. Tao Zhan moderated the Plenary Session 2 “National Policies to Leverage ICT to Achieve Education 2030” and Ms. Natalia Amelina held the Plenary Session 4 “Education and Learning Management”. Among the participants of the sessions were experts in the field of education, heads and representatives of global leading educational institutions. Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (UAE), Chair of the UNESCO IITE Governing Board, and two members of the UNESCO IITE Governing Board – Mr. Gard Titlestad, Secretary General of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (Norway) and Mr. Dae Joon Hwang, Professor at the Sungkyunkwan University (the Republic of Korea) participated in the conference with presentations. A highlight was a meeting of the UNESCO IITE’s representatives and IITE Governing Board members with the President of the 38th session of the General Conference of UNESCO and Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology of the Republic of Namibia Mr. Stanley Mutumba Simataa on 10 July 2017. One of the main coordinators of the Forum was Mr. Fengchun Miao, Chief of the Unit for ICT in Education, UNESCO Headquarters, who moderated several sessions and presented UNESCO Programme to Support Member States to harness ICTs for Achieving SDG4. The Forum reaffirmed the vision of SDG4 for Education 2030 articulated in the Incheon Declaration and the commitments adopted in the Qingdao Declaration and recognized that ICTs are both drivers and enablers of progress for governments in taking forward SDG4 and multipliers for other SDGs.
The Dujiangyan International Forum – Ensuring Quality Education and Lifelong Learning through ICT took place on 13-14 July in Chengdu, People’s Republic of China. The event was jointly organized by the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and UNESCO IITE. Digital innovations for SDG4, scaling up innovations for disadvantaged groups, national policies to leverage ICT to achieve the goals of Education 2030, and future e-schools were central topics of the discussion. During the Dujiangyan International Forum, representatives of the UNESCO IITE had the opportunity to discuss collaboration projects with partners from China and other countries, which led to cooperation with UNESCO Category 2 centers in Beijing and Shenzhen. Mr. Zhan took part in the conference as a lecturer, and later as a moderator to Parallel Session II “ICT-enabled Innovative Pedagogy”. Ms. Natalia Amelina delivered a speech at the session. At the end of the Dujiangyan International Forum, UNESCO IITE was invited to become a permanent co-organiser of the Forum in the future.
Both the International Forum on ICT and Education 2030 and the Dujiangyan International Forum focused on the implementation of ICT in Education in order to move one-step closer to the achievement of SDG4. The digital revolution should be seen as a revolution for sustainable development that bridges divides, strengthens inclusion, and provides opportunities for all with no one left behind. The launch of collaborative projects between People’s Republic of China and UNESCO, together with the strong presence of IITE, will undoubtedly contribute to SDG4’s goal to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.’