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United Nations Children’s Fund Telephone +256 414 346 974

OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE Uganda Country Office Facsimile +256 417 171001
Plot 9 George Street Mobile# +256 717171300
P. O. Box 7047

Welcome speech at the ICT Innovations for Education Workshop

by UNICEF Deputy Representative Karen Allen

10 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 this
gathering here today:

- human resource development

- ICT infrastructure

- and, innovation and R&D in education curriculum

UNICEF, working with the Ministry of Education and Sports, and partners in both the public and private
sectors, 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 to
the children of Uganda:

• It’s a promise that teachers will be in school and ready to provide children with a relevant and
enriching 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
United Nations Children’s Fund Telephone +256 414 346 974
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE Uganda Country Office Facsimile +256 417 171001
Plot 9 George Street Mobile# +256 717171300
P. O. Box 7047

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 mandate
for 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 resources
available online. Children in Uganda, and their teachers, have every right to that information ... and they
should be active contributors as well. Their stories, their voices, their knowledge – are also critical to the
marketplace of ideas. Technology can support both the creation and the dissemination of relevant learning
materials, 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, where
learning 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 the
world, and go straight to best practices that will work even in rural villages or poor urban areas. Uganda can
skip the early stages and costly mistakes made in places like North America and Europe, who invested in
analog and landline systems that are nearly irrelevant.

So we look forward today to discussing open source solutions that provide our students and teachers with
sustainable access to information and exchange. What does open source mean? It means solutions that do
not lock schools and districts into contracts and licensing fees, and that do not make them depend on certain
types of hardware or software, or on non-local support. Each investment we make in our children's
education 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 and
teachers to report on their progress, on access to materials ... allowing students and their families to have a
voice in the delivery of services ... and allowing the government AND local communities to see in real time
where their local education system is succeeding or not … which in turn will provide evidence for

You’ll see in the presentation on Mobile Technology, how the most basic mobile phones and simple text
messages will allow schools to report data rapidly, for immediate action, as well as allowing community
groups 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 that
we can provide. Innovation in technology can help the current and next generation of educators to improve
their skills, exchange best practices with their peers around the world, and be empowered with the latest
information 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 challenges
we 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
United Nations Children’s Fund Telephone +256 414 346 974
OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY REPRESENTATIVE Uganda Country Office Facsimile +256 417 171001
Plot 9 George Street Mobile# +256 717171300
P. O. Box 7047

technology provides the structure upon which a strong nationwide system of learning (accountable to this
country's citizens) can be built.
Honourable Minister, ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to be a longtime partner of the Ministry of
Education and Sports, and we look forward to pioneering together this new set of initiatives to enhance
children’s education in Uganda. I’m sure your discussions will be fruitful and I wish you every success.

And may I also say “Warmest of wishes for the holiday season!”


For media inquiries and more information on technology for children’s development, please contact:
Chulho Hyun:,, 0717 171 110
Terra Weikel:, 0785 137 868