From 21 to 31 March, UNESCO undertook a needs assessment mission to Mozambique and Zimbabwe to support the implementation of the extra-budgetary project “ICTs transforming education in Africa”.
This 3-year extra-budgetary project funded by the Republic of Korea (ROK) through the Korean Funds in Trust (KFIT) facility has allocated some US$6 million to support ICT in education activities across three countries, namely Mozambique, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
In particular, the project will support the development and scaling-up of ICT-enhanced school curricula, strengthen the capacities of teachers to make effective pedagogical use of ICT, support higher education institutions in developing and applying Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and facilitate policy development including the use of the IFAP National Information Society Policy Template.
The team visiting Mozambique and Zimbabwe consisted of Mr. Fengchun Miao, Chief of UNESCO’s ICT in Education Section, Mr. Paul Hector, Progamme Specialist with responsibility for the information for All Programme (IFAP), Mr. Hezekiel Dlamini, Advisor for Communication and Information in the Harare Office and Professor Kyoung Phil Joo, of the Korean National Open University.
The needs assessment mission provided an opportunity to engage with concerned UNESCO Field Offices and National Ministerial Teams who have a key role to play in supporting national ownership and implementation of the project. As part of this process a number of meetings were held with Ministers and senior government officials in key line ministries to clarify national priorities as well as specific institutional mandates and responsibilities. A number of field visits to schools, teacher training institutions, national ICT and community centers were invaluable in providing an understanding of the existing human capacity, technical infrastructure. Focus groups sessions workshops were especially useful in validating and enriching the external team’s findings.
According to Mr. Abdoul Coulibaly, UNESCO Programme Specialist and Focal point for the Zimbabwe project, “the Needs Assessment mission was an opportune time as it allowed the National Team as well as well the UNESCO staff in the field to meet and discuss with actors and beneficiaries of the project, get acquainted with the template and get the necessary guidance toward its finalization.”
Similar sentiments were echoed by his counterpart, Mr. Noel Chicuecue, National Progamme Officer and focal point for the project in UNESCO’s Mozambique Office, who felt that the assessment mission allowed local stakeholders to understand better the goals and focus of the project and provide relevant information on key issues and priority areas for Mozambique. The visit to institutions and partner organizations helped the mission to assess the conditions in which the project will operate” It was a useful exercise for the preparation of workplans by the country project team with technical assistance from the local UNESCO office.”
The mission was therefore successful in contributing to a shared vision of project priorities and modalities and for surfacing contextual challenges as well as opportunities critical to the project’s success.
The mission also provided an opportunity to meet with the Secretary-Generals of the UNESCO National Commissions in both countries, to support their closer engagement in the KFIT project, to identify national IFAP projects and local IFAP champions. A visit to the national archives in Mozambique provided avenues for collaboration under the IFAP information preservation priority and with UNESCO Memory of the World (MOW) Programme.
Over the coming weeks national teams will finalize the draft needs assessment report prepared by the external team and develop detailed national implementation strategies. A regional consultation workshop to support coordination and sharing of experiences between the three national project teams is expected to take place in Harare in mid-May 2016.
The intergovernmental Information for All Programme was established in 2001. It provides a platform for international policy discussions, cooperation and the development of guidelines for action in the area of access to information and knowledge. The Programme supports Member States to develop and implement national information policy and strategy frameworks in the areas of information accessibility, information for development, information ethics, information literacy, information preservation and multilingualism.