The aspiration behind the project jointly inspired and implemented by UNESCO and Weidong Cloud Education Group (PRC), entitled “Building future schools through ICT competency development”, involves supporting Member States in Central Asia and the African Region in leveraging digital technologies to secure that lack of essential skills does not preclude countries from advancing towards digital transformation, and assure that the benefits from emerging technologies are widely shared in and through education.
Within the framework of the jUNESCO-Weidong joint initiative, the project Member States are rendered relevant support and assistance in defining appropriate policy measures to promote equity in and through TVET; to ensure all youth and adults, women and men, have equal opportunities to learn, develop and enhance their knowledge, skills and competencies; and to address the wide variety of learning and training needs.
The online expert meeting within the UNESCO-WEIDONG joint project “Building future schools through ICT competency development” was organized cooperatively by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE) and the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan (UNESCO Almaty Office). On 23 December 2020, the online event summoned official representatives from the National Commissions for UNESCO, Ministries of Education (and Science), and leading educational centres/agencies for continuing professional development of the three target countries in Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The overall participation numbered 30 knowledgeable experts and dedicated stakeholders.
The scope of topical issues for discussion within the expert online meeting comprised:
- Obtaining reliable findings from the home-based project consultants on the current status of ICT in education, the availability of the national education systems for implementing innovative ICT-based approaches, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, with particular focus on TVET;
- Determining the necessity for transformation of the present TVET curricula;
- Developing quality assurance processes for ICT-mediated technical and vocational training education and training;
- Identifying primary social objectives for TVET in the light of local contexts and strategies;
- Identifying feasible ways to improve teachers’ professional practice in TVET;
- Ensuring information, advice and guidance support;
- Optimizing pre-service education of TVET teachers and trainers;
- Enhancing continuing professional development of TVET teachers and trainers;
- Providing viable and sustainable digital solutions for uninterrupted quality training (Weidong Cloud Education);
- Engaging in the follow-up expert discussion to chart the short- and mid-term courses for TVET advancement in the target Member States.
Special priority within the online meeting was accorded to the National Experts – individual home-based consultants in the target countries, who had conducted the prominent and consistent investigation and needs assessments in the scope of the project implemetation in the focus region:
- Ms Gulnara Kussidenova for the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- Ms Onokan Umankulova for the Kyrgyz Republic;
- Mr Kadambay Saytov for the Republic of Uzbekistan.
Pursuant to the National Experts’ presentations the screen was given to the official representative of the Weidong Cloud Education Group – Mr. Maxim LI with his insightful report on the activities, capacities and aspirations of the corporation towards pursuing quality digital transformation of education around the world.
The two-hour expert meeting concluded with a comprehensive and substantial discussion of the expert findings, existing capacities and viable proposals for sustainable improvements and developments within the national TVET systems in the target Member States.
Spokespeople from the national government agencies and participating stakeholders deliberated on the mandatory and feasible means towards expanding opportunities for ICT-based education and distance learning within the domestic TVET systems, giving particular attention to Internet accessibility, sufficiency of insfrastructure and relevance of teacher professional training and advancement.
The participants agreed to reconvene for retracing short- and mid-term progress towards improvements in relation to the insights obtained and understanding reached.