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Need for global cooperation on AI underlined at Mobile Learning Week

06 March 2019

“We need global cooperation to help countries understand how to take up AI in education, and why it matters for their future prosperity,” said Stefania Giannini, Assistant-Director-General for Education at the opening of Mobile Learning Week’s Policy Forum on Tuesday.  

The Forum brought together ministers of education, ministers of technology, telecom regulators, and leaders from private sector companies to discuss how coordinated action can facilitate the creation of a coherent policy framework that allows education systems to leverage the potential benefits and address the risks of AI.

Ms. Giannini stressed the fact that public policies on AI entail partnerships with the private sector, together with universities and research institutes that have a key role to play in developing expertise in AI.

“This Policy Forum gives us the chance to take the pulse, by learning from countries that have developed comprehensive public policies on AI in education,” said Ms. Giannini.

“We must leverage digital technology to increase access to quality education and foster opportunities for all,” said Sofia Fernandez de Mesa, Managing Director of the ProFuturo Foundation, a co-organizer of Mobile Learning Week 2019. “It’s in our hands to determine how we program the algorithms, how we rethink the world with digital tools and how we use technology to improve education and bridge the multiple divides that exist in our societies.”

The Forum offered a platform to discuss the different policy avenues that governments are paving to address the opportunities and challenges of frontier technologies and maximize the benefits of AI in education. Four sessions were held to explore what policies are needed to:

  • harness AI to accelerate progress towards SDG 4;
  • ensure frontier technologies and AI can support digital transformation, elearning and digital skills development;
  • ensure inclusiveness in the use of accessible ICTs and AI in education;
  • empower and prepare teachers for AIpowered learning environments.

At the Forum, UNESCO presented a working paper, which lays out key concepts and definitions relating to AI and map out some key initiatives and case studies. The document also highlights some of the main challenges and policy implications, as well as opportunities created by strong international cooperation.

“Despite natural competition between countries, increased international cooperation on AI is a win-win in the context of education,” said Francesc Pedró, Chief of Education Policy Section at UNESCO who presented the paper.

During the week, exhibitions, demonstrations, and more than 20 workshops of innovative AI applications for education are taking place, organized by international partners and all programme sectors of UNESCO.

Follow the discussions via #MLW2019.