The Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) is partnering with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), to host a special online forum this week, to examine the way forward for technology in education, in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Education system.

A release from the CTU says the online event titled, ICT in Education – A Caribbean Forum, will take place on Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th January 2022.  Registration is open to representatives of the major stakeholders in the fields of education and technology in the Caribbean, including policy makers, regulators, operators, academia and other users.

The CTU release explains that “ICT in Education” will provide a forum for the sharing of information on mutual objectives with respect to technology and education and encourage greater regional collaboration amongst key stakeholders.  It will also facilitate networking opportunities with technology providers and look at possible solutions to support the implementation of practical policies.

CTU Secretary General, Rodney Taylor, explains the forum will pave the way for a critical paradigm shift in education in the region.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the traditional classroom, forcing schools to turn to technology platforms and other modes of online learning. Regional governments have grappled with developing sound policies as many students are still unable to access either the internet or devices to participate effectively. There is also a growing concern that many teachers have not been adequately trained to teach effectively in the digital classroom. This Forum will address the current challenges and develop policy recommendations on the way forward,” he stated.

UNESCO is supporting the first day of the Forum on Wednesday 26th January, by providing technical expertise on ICT in Education, such as the UNESCO Framework for Teachers’ ICT Competencies and Institutional Capacity Building of Teaching Institutions.

Image courtesy CTU.

Carlos Vargas Tamez, Chief of Section for Teacher Development, UNESCO and Head of Secretariat for the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, points out:

“The rapid transition to online teaching we have witnessed in the past two years required teachers, students and parents to acquire ICT skills in a very short time, often without sufficient guidance, training or resources.”

“This Caribbean Forum will highlight the efforts needed to address this transition. Among others, the Forum will focus on the pedagogical use of technologies and the transformations in teacher education and professional development needed, as exemplified by UNESCO’s ICT Competency Framework for Teachers and the capacity development carried out with teacher education institutions,” he explained.

He added: “A most valuable lesson learned from the most recent digital turn is that teachers must be supported to help students grow into collaborative, problem-solving and creative learners, who can utilize ICTs to participate in society and build the future.”

The ITU Area Office in Bridgetown is supporting the CTU in the event:

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the digital divide and the issue of connectivity into stark focus—in particular in the education sector. As communities with good connectivity are able to continue to work and learn, those communities with minimal connectivity or without, or who depend fully on the analogue world, are left out.  ITU is leveraging its strategic partnership with UNICEF, Government and the Private Sector in the OECS through its GIGA Initiative to map every school’s connectivity, finance connectivity, connect every school, and empower young people,” the ITU Area Office in Bridgetown said in a statement.

“Through the GIGA Initiative, the ITU supports COVID-19 responses in the region with connectivity and remote learning solutions in order to connect every school to the internet, and every young person to information, opportunity and choice. The ITU is pleased to partner with the CTU as indeed, this important ICT in Education Forum will certainly help to address the social and moral imperative of connectivity and ICT in the education sector,” added the ITU.

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For more information and registration, please visit https://ctu.int/event/ict-in-education-a-caribbean-forum/