UN promotes engaged learning in universities across Asia-Pacific

Whether it is an IT student volunteering in a rural Timor-Leste community learning center, or a health student on work experience at a Cambodian women's center, engaged learning methods can better prepare young people to be the future leaders of the Asia–Pacific region.

This was the key message from the United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for ICT for Development’s (UN-APCICT) ‘International Conference on Engaged Learning & ICT for Development (ICTD) in the University Curriculum,’ co-organized with Cornell University (USA), the University of Selangor and the Asian Institute for Development Communication.

Over 100 participants from more than 20 countries came together in Selangor, Malaysia for the three-day event held from 3 to 5 June as part of a series of UN-APCICT activities promoting students’ engagement in community development.

Delegates concluded that (ICTD) courses should use engaged learning as a way to apply ICTs at the community level in order to tackle issues particularly related to the Millennium Development Goals. Engaged learning (also referred to as service learning or volunteerism), allows students to use their skills in a practical way and work with communities directly help them deal with challenges in health, food production, lifelong education, governance, disaster preparedness and economic welfare. In turn, the students become more active participants in society.

“The conference on Engaged Learning and ICTD in the University Curriculum has not only highlighted the importance of ICTD education and good practices in ICTD teaching, it has brought together partners who are committed to strengthening ICTD classroom learning by linking it to community development,” said YM Tengku Datuk Dr Mohd Azzman Shariffadeen Tengku Ibrahim, Fellow of the Academy of Sciences of Malaysia.

Conference delegates also heard how engaged learning can be an effective approach to link classroom-based ICTD learning to community service and its value for ICTD education. Following the event, UN-APCICT will produce a guidebook on engaged learning in ICTD courses.

UN-APCICT has worked to expand ICTD in university curricula through its flagship programme ‘Turning Today’s Youth into Tomorrow’s Leaders'. Today there are over 90 partner universities engaged in the programme across the Asia-Pacific region. The programme aims to enhance young people’s ability to recognize the linkage between ICT and development goals.

Notes for editors:

UN-APCICT’s ‘Turning Today’s Youth into Tomorrow’s Leaders’ Programme focuses on equipping youth with the requisite knowledge on the use of ICT for development. Under the programme, the Centre offers internships to graduate students in order to provide practical exposure to work in the ICT for Development (ICTD) field and promotes ICTD capacity building of youth through enhanced coverage of ICTD in undergraduate and graduate programmes at universities in the Asia-Pacific region. As part of this project, APCICT has developed the Primer Series on ICTD for Youth as a learning resource for institutions of higher learning and to help fill the gaps in ICTD education.