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UNICEF Statement [MoES ICT Innovations Workshop Opening Remarks, 10.12.09]

UNICEF Statement [MoES ICT Innovations Workshop Opening Remarks, 10.12.09]

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Published by UNICEF Uganda
Welcome speech at the ICT Innovations for Education Workshop by UNICEF Deputy Representative, Karen Allen,10 December 2009, Protea Hotel, Kampala, Uganda
Welcome speech at the ICT Innovations for Education Workshop by UNICEF Deputy Representative, Karen Allen,10 December 2009, Protea Hotel, Kampala, Uganda

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Published by: UNICEF Uganda on Dec 21, 2009
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United Nations Children’s Fund
Telephone +256 414 346 974Uganda Country OfficeFacsimile +256 417 171001Plot 9 George Street Mobile# +256 717171300P. O. Box 7047kallen@unicef.orgKampala
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE
Welcome speech at the ICT Innovations for Education Workshopby UNICEF Deputy Representative Karen Allen10 December 2009, Protea Hotel, Kampala, Uganda
Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors and High Commissioners,The Honourable Ministers present,The Coordinating Development Partners,The Permanent Secretaries present,The Chief Administrative Officers,The District/Municipal Education Officers,The Ministry of Education and Sports,All invited guests,Ladies and Gentlemen,I thank you for the privilege of addressing you this morning.Three of the investment priorities in the new National Development Plan are of special interest to thisgathering here today:-human resource development-ICT infrastructure-and, innovation and R&D in education curriculumUNICEF, working with the Ministry of Education and Sports, and partners in both the public and privatesectors, has invited educators and innovators to gather here today to work on how we can use tools,hardware and software, to help all of us - teachers, parents, professionals - make good on our promises tothe children of Uganda:
It’s a promise that teachers will be in school and ready to provide children with a relevant andenriching education.
It’s a promise that quality education and access to information will be available to every child,everywhere in the country, and at no cost to the children.
It’s a promise that the school environment will both nurture children, and protect them from harm.
And it’s a promise that we will invest in local and sustainable systems that provide jobs to our communities.
 
United Nations Children’s Fund
Telephone +256 414 346 974Uganda Country OfficeFacsimile +256 417 171001Plot 9 George Street Mobile# +256 717171300P. O. Box 7047kallen@unicef.orgKampala
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE
UNICEF, like our donor and government partners here today, stands ready to invest in infrastructure and programs that will keep children in school, keep them learning, and keep them safe.“Alive, Safe, and Learning”: these are the fundamental goals which are at the core of UNICEF’s mandatefor the next five years.We see opportunities, firstly, in providing access to information.Today's world gives an unfair advantage to those with access to the large pool of information and resourcesavailable online. Children in Uganda, and their teachers, have every right to that information ... and theyshould be active contributors as well. Their stories, their voices, their knowledge – are also critical to themarketplace of ideas. Technology can support both the creation and the dissemination of relevant learningmaterials, allowing learners and educators to share locally-created content, in local languages.You’ll be hearing soon about technologies like the Digital Doorway (that big blue machine right there in the back) – that provide computer access and educational applications to underserved communities, wherelearning can happen in both formal and informal environments.If done correctly (as we’re seeing with the burgeoning of mobile telephony) Uganda has the opportunity to jump ahead of short-term technology solutions, learn lessons from technology applications elsewhere in theworld, and go straight to best practices that will work even in rural villages or poor urban areas. Uganda canskip the early stages and costly mistakes made in places like North America and Europe, who invested inanalog and landline systems that are nearly irrelevant.So we look forward today to discussing open source solutions that provide our students and teachers withsustainable access to information and exchange. What does open source mean? It means solutions that donot lock schools and districts into contracts and licensing fees, and that do not make them depend on certaintypes of hardware or software, or on non-local support. Each investment we make in our children'seducation must also be an investment in providing local opportunities for work, income, training, etc.The other critical component that cannot and must not be ignored is a protective environment within our schools, which ensures that schools meet Basic National Minimum Standards and are a safe and welcoming place for children, and their families. The school must stand as a beacon in its community: a venue for  positive social change. Innovative technology can provide methods of accountability, allowing schools andteachers to report on their progress, on access to materials ... allowing students and their families to have avoice in the delivery of services ... and allowing the government AND local communities to see in real timewhere their local education system is succeeding or not … which in turn will provide evidence for accountability.You’ll see in the presentation on Mobile Technology, how the most basic mobile phones and simple textmessages will allow schools to report data rapidly, for immediate action, as well as allowing communitygroups to send alerts about lack of books, teacher absenteeism, or incidents of corporal punishment.And finally, teachers, as the front-line workers in education, need all the training and ongoing support thatwe can provide. Innovation in technology can help the current and next generation of educators to improvetheir skills, exchange best practices with their peers around the world, and be empowered with the latestinformation to teach to their students.We all know that technology does not stand on its own – it’s not the magic bullet or cure to the challengeswe currently face in keeping girls and boys in school, learning, and succeeding. But, when chosen wisely -with a careful eye on sustainability, and the creation of local ownership and opportunity - investment in

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