The GENIE programme was awarded the 2017 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for its work in making innovative use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in education.
Launched in 2005, GENIE is a large-scale, long-term national policy and initiative developed and implemented by the Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training, Higher Education and Scientific Research of Morocco. It aims to incorporate ICT to improve access to, and quality of, education in primary and secondary schools. It incorporates key pillars for an effective national ICT in education policy such as infrastructure, teacher training, development of digital resources and transformation of teaching and learning practices.
Ilham Laaziz, the Director of the GENIE Programme, tells UNESCO how the programme is doing since receiving the award its plans for the future.
What impact did winning the Prize have on the Programme after six months?
Through the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa Prize, the recognition from UNESCO of the quality of the strategy and accomplishments of the GENIE programme had a positive impact on the teachers. The call of production of digital resources had a positive feedback as we had an increased participation in 2018, and on our partners, the equipment’s providers, who continue to support the programme having been reassured of the quality of the programme and its impact on digital culture. For example, one of our donors who had provided 1100 tablets to a hundred of rural schools renewed their partnership by providing 1500 more tablets to 100 new schools!
The programme has been implemented since 2005, what are the results since its launch?
The GENIE programme was adopted in 2006 by the CGSUT and funded by the FSUT at 1038 MAD. The programme focuses on different aspects: the first one is training: Teachers’ training is essential to the success of the programme. 87 % (260,000) of the educational management and staff has already been trained; four modules developed following the CBTB competency framework of UNESCO; 900 main trainers; 148 ICT training centres around the country; nearly 120,000 people trained to use computer tools.
The other focus of the programme is digital resources: We acquired a number of digital resources between 2010 and 2013 and provided them to schools already equipped. The National Laboratory for digital resources (LNRN) disseminated digital resources to schools, created several dedicated portals and developed over 300 OER through a call for proposals organized during the annual exams for teaching staff.
A third aspect of the programme is the development of educational uses. This aspect was newly introduced after the programme strategy was revised in 2009, to ensure that users are guided through information, assistance, monitoring and reporting. A team was appointed at a centralized level to coordinate the actions in terms of normalization, guidance and monitoring of the strategy at a regional, provincial and local level. Regional forums are also regularly organized as well as over 2011 workshops for educational staff. Also to accompany the change that education is facing when it comes to integrate ICT, it was necessary to create a national pedagogical framework, general and for each subject, to guide teaching practices, by sharing approaches and scenarios to improve the quality of pedagogy.
What are the challenges you faced when implementing the programme?
The natural resistance against change was one of the main challenges, but implementing a strategy to develop educational uses for teachers helped us deal with that issue. The maintenance of the equipment is also another challenge.
How important is digital literacy for the development of digital competences?
Educational staff is trained in digital literacy through training sessions or online platforms.
Digital literacy is also taught to children whether though IT teaching as a subject or through the integration of IT in all other subjects.
What are the plans for the future of the programme?
Curricula in Morocco has changed in 2003. Along with the launch of the GENIE programme in 2005, a new strategy of developing content in accordance to the recommendations to use ICT in the practices of teachers. The new curricula currently being developed will integrate those recommendations to use ICT whenever possible (equipment and internet connectivity). Let us not forget that in Morocco the 11,000 schools, of which 40 % are in rural areas has an equipment rate of 87 %. However, satellites schools tied to the 7,000 primary schools only have access to the infrastructures if the children go to the main schools or if the equipment is moved to those schools. This is what pushes us to choose a strategy for incentives by making those resources widely available.
In addition, the programme has introduced coding through an open software called ‘’scratch’’ that introduced coding to 600 000 people since 2015 during an event called Africa Code Week. Our goal was to integrate coding in primary school curriculum during the school year to develop their ICT culture. 1,200 kids were trained to use new technology during their first year since 2016 in pilot high schools; this phase will progressively be extended to all regions.
The curriculum for new degrees in education sciences aimed for new teachers will also include training modules in ICT.
How do you see the role of technologies in education?
Digital tools are a didactic support that enable teachers to overcome complex situations. For example, in biology, short videos of reproductive systems of the plants allow kids to understand the different steps from the seed to the roots appearing. I can find more examples that show how useful 3D visualization is in mathematics, geography etc.
Teaching social sciences may also be supported by ICT in order to learn languages; repetitive tasks for example are facilitated with apps. I was surprised to discover that a philosophy teacher developed a digital banner of philosophers linking directly to their work.