Qingdao, May 23, 2015: The Vice-premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Ms Liu Yandong, and the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Ms Irina Bokova, addressed an audience of more than 300 international experts from 90 countries at the International Conference on ICT and Post-2015 Education, an immediate follow-up to the World Education Forum held at Incheon (Republic of Korea) this week. The Conference is organized by UNESCO, the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, with the support of the Qingdao Municipal Government.
"New technologies are the way to connect education quality, equality, and inclusion, said the Director-General at the opening. "UNESCO's starting point is clear: technology is not an end in itself - it must be a means to empower women and men, to take forward equality, justice and dignity for all. New technologies must be built into education. We need to think big today - to integrate ICTs into curricula, in school environments, in teacher training, in new information and media literacy, in relevant multilingual content." The potential of new technologies is a promise that has to be integrated into the future development agenda, she continued.
Ms Bokova also used the opportunity to express gratitude to China for support to a joint project in eight Sub-Saharan countries to integrate technology in teacher training institutions.
Vice-Premier Liu Yandong shared the congratulatory letter that Chinese President, Mr Xi Jinping addressed to the Conference in which he asserts that “Talents determine the future. Dreams are realized through education. China is willing to expand the platform of international communication and cooperation with all the countries in the world, as well as to actively promote the innovative development combining ICT and education, exploring a way of sustainable development of education and creating a better future for mankind.”
The Vice Premier outlined the Chinese Government's efforts to realize the modernization of education with the help of ICT in a country with 260 million students and more than 15 million teachers. She also presented the core goal of “Three connections and two platforms” for the country: wideband connection in every school, good resources in every class and a learning space for everyone, support by two platforms, one for educational resources and another for education management.
She made four proposals to make "a great leap forward in education" covering systematic integration of ICT in education planning; attention to the role of teachers; knowledge sharing and the building of communication platforms to improve interactions and understanding among youth from different countries and cultures. "Just like the Internet we are powerful when we are connected."
The opening was also attended by the Minister of Education Mr Yuan Guiren, the Governor of Shangdong Province Provincial Government Mr Guo Shuqing, as well as the President of UNESCO General Conference Mr Hao Ping and the Chairperson of UNESCO's Executive Board Mohamed Sam Amr.
The Conference will examine how educational technology can support the global agenda for education adopted by the World Education Forum for the upcoming 15 years. Broad themes include how to foster an effective pedagogical use of ICT and the role that teacher development and support have to play; how to scale up successful innovations for lifelong learning; the contribution of technology to knowledge creation particularly through open education resources; and finally how to monitor and evaluate good practices.
A Statement will be released at the end to provide Member States with policy recommendations about how to effectively use ICT to address current educational challenges and to ensure equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all. Follow up actions and opportunities to forge international partnerships will be discussed with the aim to assist Member States to better unleash the potential of ICT in education when unfolding the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
Ms Bokova gained a first hand view of China's ICT's expertise and ambitions through a visit to a wide-ranging exhibition of ICT applications at all levels of education at the Qingdao International Convention Center, highlighting an inclusive approach.
She then planted a tree and unveiled a carved stone to mark the Conference at the Qingdao Middle No2 School, a renown establishment founded 90 years ago. Warmly welcomed by the principal and students, she received insight, through an exhibition, of the school's comprehensive approach, ranging from activities to encourage scientific innovation, critical thinking, clubs and societies for community service to a model United Nations which led the students to UN Headquarters in New York.
She also witnessed the signing of an agreement between Qingdao City, represented by, and the Government of Nepal, to provide 2,000 kits with school bags and other supplies to help children continue school after the devastating earthquake that struck last month.