The Mobile Learning Week is UNESCO’s flagship ICT in education conference. The Mobile Learning Week 2018 was organized in partnership with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for ICT. The 2018 event was organized under the theme “Skills for a connected world”. Participants exchanged knowledge about the ways governments and other stakeholders can define and achieve the skills-related targets specified by Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4).
I submitted a proposal for presentation titled “Capacity-building of Educators for 21st Century Skills - Developing agents of change through formal and informal approaches using a 4P Innovation model” which was retained among the 60 selected presentations out of about 300 submissions. The audience to the presentation included Advisors to Minister of Education of the UAE, public and private sector individuals, academics and representatives of NGOs.
One of the main components of the presentation focused on the BABA-TV project in which the UoM is a partner. The project relates to a mass-literacy initiative over Africa in collaboration with partners from France. The key message delivered in the speech was that much of the focus of the conference was on the education for kids and the youth, but there was a lack of emphasis on the importance of the need to train parents as well.
A key idea that emerged there which would be of benefit for Mauritius in achieving SDG4 would be to revamp the idea of the “Ecole des Parents”. In the digital age, this could take the form of webinars, MOOCs and face-to-face meetings in Social Community Centres to help those living in vulnerable situations.
The eKitabu project was another project that captured attention where Kenya is embarking on the digitization of school textbooks, with an intention similar to the one behind the tablet project in Mauritius. An innovative idea in the context of the University based on the eBook concepts, and inspired also from a similar project in UK/Scotland where University professors have embarked on to the publication of low cost e-textbooks on Amazon Kindle surfaced during the discussions, but applied in our context to our OER repository project. One of the forms that the OER repository could take would be as a repository of free e-textbooks published as OER and which could serve either as building blocks to modules that can lead to the accumulation of credits.
One of the main message put forward in the opening of the conference was a new concept – gender equality and the digital divide. It was postulated Gender gap in internet usage is widening. Now the gender issue is getting its way into the use of technology also. Is it a real issue? If yes to what extent? Is it linked to poverty issues again, as a side-effect? There can be room for research here in Mauritius and to compare with global figures.
The Minister of ICT of Egypt talked about the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for teachers in the plenary session while the Advisor to the Ministry of Education of the UAE talked about the maturity of schools in terms of adopting technology. A key idea here emerged with respect to our ongoing funded project on Education Leadership for the 21st Century by the AAUN, where we could work towards a Leadership Maturity Model for Mauritius Schools in terms of ICTinEd.