13 April 2005

UN ICT Task Force to Meet in Dublin, 13 - 15 April, with Focus on ICT for Education

NEW YORK, 12 April (UN Headquarters) -- Meeting for the first time in Dublin, the United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Task Force will hold a Global Forum on harnessing the potential of ICT for Education on 13 and 14 April to explore how ICT can improve the quality and quantity of education, especially in developing countries.

The Forum, open to the media and co-hosted by the Irish Government and the Dublin-based Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI), is part of the Task Force's eighth meeting, to be held at Jury's Ballsbridge Hotel from 13 to 15 April.

The Global Forum brings together development, ICT and education practitioners.  Among the participants are José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Chair of the ICT Task Force; Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General; Ireland’s Minister of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources Noel Dempsey; Namibia's Minister of Education Nangolo Mbumba; Nedurumalli Rajyalakshmi, Minister for School Education of Andhra Pradesh (India); Ambassador David Gross, United States Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy; Hewlett Packard Vice-President Maureen Conway; Nokia Vice-President Veli Sundbäck; Titi Akinsanmi, SchoolNet Africa, South Africa; Victoria P. Garchitorena, President, Ayala Foundation, Philippines; and many other prominent decision-makers and experts.

ICT can provide practical, cost-effective solutions for improving education.  The advent of highly responsive networks of information and knowledge and the rapid development of smart software, in combination with other channels of communication, present a real opportunity to creatively solve deficiencies within educational systems around the world.  The Global Forum will explore how to do so with leading education and ICT specialists from donor countries, the developing world, civil society, academia and the private sector.  More than 280 such experts have registered for the event.

In conjunction with the Global Forum, the United Nations ICT Task Force will hold an open consultation on a Global Alliance for ICT and Development to seek proposals from all interested parties.  This open global platform would bring together governments, business and civil society to harness the potential of ICT to promote development.  Secretary-General Kofi Annan, endorsing such a global networking approach, has asked the ICT Task Force to develop, in consultation with other interested parties, concrete proposals for such an Alliance.  The consultation will examine options for the Alliance's mission, work, membership and funding.

The Task Force meeting will begin on 13 April at 9:30 a.m. with the open consultation on a Global Alliance.  The Global Forum will start at 2 p.m., with remarks by Noel Dempsey and José Antonio Ocampo and a keynote address by Jeffrey Sachs.  Two plenary sessions will follow, on “ICT in education -- a reality check” and “The contribution of ICT to education initiatives”.

On 14 April, morning break-out sessions will examine how partnerships can maximize complementary strengths, ways to increase and make more affordable access to ICT in education, learning strategies and content development, and capacity-building for leaders, managers, teachers and administrators.  In the afternoon, the Global Forum will discuss the outcome of the break-out sessions and devise the next steps.

On 15 April, the members of the Task Force will hold in the morning a closed meeting that will address, among other things, the outcome of the consultation on a Global Alliance.

Established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2001, the United Nations ICT Task Force brings together representatives of governments, the private sector, civil society and international organizations in a global effort to harness the immense potential of ICT for promoting development.

The Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI), spawned by the ICT Task Force, works in partnership with governments, the private sector and civil society to deliver comprehensive, demand-driven solutions for education in developing countries.  It focuses on both the technological and the social challenges of improving education, and is a direct result of the United Nations ICT Task Force and the Millennium Development Goals.

For information, see www.unicttaskforce.org and www.gesci.org, or contact: Enrica Murmura, tel: +39.338.302.5554, e-mail: murmura@un.org, and Andrea Pappin, tel: +353.1.678.2503, e-mail: andrea.pappin@gesci.org.

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