UNESCO organized the second regional meeting of the UNESCO-KFIT Project ICT Transforming Education in Africa, in Kigali, Rwanda from 24 to 26 January 2018, supporting peer learning in Mozambique, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.
Following the regional meeting that took place in Harare, Zimbabwe in May 2016, this event was the first occasion for the three teams to come together and learn from progress attained in the respective beneficiary countries. It also represented a chance to better prepare for the final implementation phase of the project, due to end in June 2019, with a view of enhancing collaboration among countries, engaging in joint activities and exchanging resources and learning experiences.
Showing the importance entrusted to the KFIT project by the host and donor countries, the meeting was opened by the Ambassador of Korea to Rwanda, Mr Kim Eung-joong, and the Minister of Education of Rwanda, Dr Eugene Mutimura. While Mr Kim recalled the vital contribution made by education to lift the country out of poverty after the destructions of the war only 70 years ago, he emphasized the focus placed on training teachers to improve the quality of education - a strategy that the KFIT project has fully embraced. Additionally, Dr Mutimura highlighted Rwanda’s commitment to leverage education and ICTs to enable the country to shift from a low-income agrarian economy to a medium income export-oriented and knowledge-based society. He remarked that equipment is not sufficient to make a difference, as availability of content and teacher training are equally, if not more, important.
Delegates from the three country teams had the chance to present the achievements, challenges and lessons learnt for the various components of the project. This includes e-school model piloting, e-assessment, teacher training on the pedagogical use of ICT, Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and policy development, and UNESCO’s Information for All Programme. Various strategies and solutions were also identified with the purpose of ensuring continuous peer learning among the three countries and improving internal and external communication.
Teacher training certainly proved one of the most successful areas of the project, with each country adapting and contextualizing the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers to their own needs. The case of Rwanda represents a perfect example of sustainability beyond project duration, as the Korean Development Agency, KOICA, will soon take the baton from UNESCO and support the countrywide implementation of the training programme to 43,000 teachers. In the area of ODL, the three countries are also making important steps towards the integration of ICTs in their distance learning programmes and took advantage of the meeting to elaborate strategies for future collaboration. For example, the courses developed with the support of the project will be shared among countries, with a view of learning from each other and possibly undertake a peer review exercise. Additionally, after learning that the Korea National Open University is supporting Mozambique for the development of multimedia teaching and learning materials, Zimbabwe and Rwanda will explore the possibility of joining this training opportunity.
“Technology is not just something that is nice to have, but something that has an impact,” said Mr Jaco du Toit, Communication and Information Adviser at the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa in Kenya, in his opening remarks on behalf of the Director of the regional office. The engaging presentations and discussions that took place during the 3-day meeting in Kigali clearly showed the impact of the interventions of the KFIT project in the beneficiary countries and allowed to set up mechanisms for improved collaboration, knowledge and resource sharing for the future. At the same time, they boosted the motivation of the delegates to go back to their countries with a commitment to do better and do more during the final stage of implementation of the activities.
ICT Transforming Education in Africa is a four-year project launched in 2015 to foster human and social development in Mozambique, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, through the use of information and communication technology (ICT). Beneficiaries are teachers and students, primary and secondary public schools, higher education institutions, policy-makers, educational administrators and leaders.