UN Concludes Workshop to Strengthen ICTD Education in the Asia-Pacific

Over seventy governments and higher-learning institution participants from the Asia-Pacific region concluded a curriculum enhancement workshop organized by the United Nations Information Communications Technology (ICT) capacity development hub.

The Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (APCICT) - a regional institute of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) - today concluded the Consultative Workshop, “Turning Today’s Youth into Tomorrow’s ICTD Leaders.” held during the Asia Economic Community Forum (AECF) in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

The workshop included 75 participants from 29 countries and sought to enhance the coverage and quality of teaching the use of ICT for socio-economic development in institutions of higher-learning in the Asia-Pacific region.

Youth represent over half the population of the Asia-Pacific region. Recent research has indicated that universities and other higher-learning institutions in the region responsible for training them, lack adequate content of ICT for development in their curricula. Programmes and courses that are best suited to provide training and impart knowledge about the use of ICT for socio-economic development either do not cover ICTD or address it in a manner that does not sufficiently identify the potential of ICT. To achieve the development goals of the coming decades, the future leaders and workforce of the Asia-Pacific region must have the requisite set of ICT knowledge and skills.

The workshop brought together policymakers and experts in the field of ICTD education to examine the existing gaps in ICTD coverage in university curricula and propose solutions that will meet the capacity needs of the region’s youth and future leaders.
“Nurturing and developing the next generation of leaders is a top priority for all the participants of this timely workshop”, said Secretary Sunil Jayantha Nawaratne, of the Ministry of Higher Education of Sri Lanka. “We, as part of today’s leadership, owe it to our youth to provide them with the ICT skills and knowledge to meet the development challenges and opportunities presented by this digital era”.

The workshop marked an important step in APCICT’s project “Strengthening ICTD Education in Institutions of Higher Learning”, which aims to raise the awareness of the importance of ICTD education in tertiary education through advocacy to policymakers, governments and networks of relevant partners in the Asia-Pacific region. Mandated to develop the ICT capacity of countries within the region, APCICT has been working to meet the demands of ESCAP member-States for enhanced ICTD training and education of the region’s youth.

“As a United Nation’s ICTD hub in the region, APCICT understands that effective and sustainable ICT capacity building initiatives must consider and include every demographic group within the region – be it women, persons with disabilities, or youth”, said Dr. Hyeun-Suk Rhee, Director of APCICT. “This workshop and the consensus it has built is an essential first step in working to create curricula that will meet the future needs of the region’s next generation of leaders”.

In addition to creating consensus and outlining a plan to fill the ICTD education gaps that exist, participants of the consultative workshop also agreed to identify national focal points who will advocate at the national level for the need of a comprehensive ICTD learning regimen in tertiary education institutions.

APCICT will work with the project’s focal points to incorporate inputs from government and other agencies responsible for development of curricula towards refining an ICTD learning module that can be used at institutions of higher learning to either provide core training, or supplement existing course materials. APCICT intends to finalize and launch the learning module in June, 2011, during APCICT’s fifth anniversary. Twenty ASEAN exchange students participated in the Consultative Workshop, nine of whom spent two months in Incheon as part of APCICT’s Young ICTD Leaders Programme.

The workshop was an official parallel event of the AECF, which is a regional forum that brings together leaders from Asia and the world to explore the identity of Asia and discuss the future economic direction of the region.

United Nations APCICT-ESCAP
http://www.unapcict.org

The United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT/ESCAP) is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, established with a membership identical to that of ESCAP and is located in Incheon, Republic of Korea. APCICT aims to strengthen the efforts of the member countries of ESCAP to use ICT in their socio-economic development through building human and institutional capacity for ICT.