10 September 2003


NEW YORK, 9 September (UN Headquarters) -- The role of information technology in education and development will be the central topic of the fifth meeting of the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force, to be held on 12 and 13 September at the headquarters of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva.

Held just before the third session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit of the Information Society, the meeting will allow participants to discuss the Task Force’s contribution to the Summit and explore ways to harness the power of information and communication technologies for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Recognizing that education is a key component in achieving the Goals, the Task Force will hear a special presentation on its Global e-School and Community Initiative.

On 12 September, the meeting will include a Global Forum, which will help to identify strategies and modalities for ensuring an effective involvement of the private sector and civil society in the preparatory process of the World Summit on the Information Society.


After an opening session with a video statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Forum participants will discuss how to define success for the World Summit; what is the role and impact of each sector towards an information society for all; what are the challenges and opportunities facing Summit stakeholders; and how the Task Force can contribute to the Millennium Development Campaign by bringing ICT-for-development into the development equation.

Speakers include Marc Furrer, Director-General of the Swiss Federal Office of Communications and Secretary of State for the World Summit; Adama Samassekou, President of the Summit’s Preparatory Committee; Maurice Strong, Adviser to Switzerland; and Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the lead agency for the Summit.  Nitin Desai, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Summit, will moderate.

The morning session will then address the impact of ICT on achieving the Millennium Development Goals, focusing especially on e-education.  The session will feature Brendan Tuohy, Secretary-General of Ireland’s Ministry of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources; Richard Simpson, Director-General, Electronic Commerce Branch, Industry Canada; Henry Chasia, Executive Deputy Chairperson, e-Africa Commission, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD); and Francis Moret, Director of the Swiss Agency for ICT in Education.

Recent developments in the Global e-Schools Initiative, spearheaded by Ireland and Sweden, will be the topic of a working luncheon, with Mr. Tuohy and Astrid Dufborg, Minister, Special ICT Adviser, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Sweden, as speakers and Mr. Furrer as keynote speaker.

On 13 September, the members of the Task Force will hold a closed meeting.

For more information, please visit the Task Force Web site at www.unicttaskforce.org; or contact Enrica Murmura at the Task Force Secretariat, tel.:  (212) 963-5913.

    * *** *