Transformative technologies can provide education for all

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Last week I was in Paris to attend the third advisory board meeting for UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report. Formerly known as the Education for All Global Monitoring Report, the GEM Report is an editorially independent, authoritative and evidence-based annual report that monitors progress toward the education targets in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework.

One of the first agenda points was to welcome former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark as the new chair of the advisory board. As part of her introduction, she shared her thoughts on the importance of SDG 4 (education):

“Education is a key sustainable development goal because it’s so important in its own right but also because, if we achieve the education targets, it will enable progress across a whole lot of the other goals as well,” she said. “So it is important both for its intrinsic and its enabling value and so has to be regarded as extremely significant for the 2030 agenda.”

Future themes

After we reviewed and evaluated the 2017-18 report, which focused on the theme ‘accountability in education’, our main order of business at the meeting was to discuss possible themes for the 2021 report. Unsurprisingly, technology is one of the themes under consideration due to the transformative capabilities that it can bring to global challenges facing education.

With our industry insights and hands-on experience, Ericsson is particularly well-placed to contribute to discussions about the role of technology in overcoming education-related challenges. For example, through the Connect to Learn initiative we have worked hand-in-hand with partners across the globe for several years to bring cutting-edge technology solutions to teachers and schools.

The importance of digital inclusion

In my remarks at the meeting, I emphasized the importance of digital inclusion in terms of the SDG theme of ‘leaving no one behind’. I also highlighted the fast-paced development of new technologies such as 5G and IoT and their impact on the digitalization of industries, with parallel impacts on digital-skills requirements across the workforce.

Four key areas

The meeting participants were quick to acknowledge the broad impact of technology in education. We identified four key areas that should be considered in any future technology-related theme:

  • Technology as a technical input. This involves considering the capital and recurrent costs of providing adequate ICT infrastructure in schools, the public policies in place to extend the provision of ICT infrastructure and the role of the business sector in determining the direction of these policies.
  • Technology as a medium of delivery. This involves considering what aspects of ICT infrastructure have the greatest impact on learning outcomes, how evidence is generated, and how information and communication technologies can complement teaching in the classroom most effectively.
  • Technology as a subject. This involves considering how technological change might transform employment and citizenship in coming years and how can education systems can best impart relevant skills to children and adults.
  • Technology as a support to planning and policy-making. This involves considering how technology can assist education management information systems to monitor, evaluate, and report progress against national and international education agendas and how ‘big data’ can inform educational research on how people learn.

The theme for the 2021 report will be finalized in due course. In the meantime, the 2019 and 2020 reports will continue to monitor technology impacts in education whilst focusing on specific themes including ‘migration, displacement and education’ (2019) and ‘inclusion in education’ (2020).

Note: Be sure to check out next week’s blog post written by my colleague Ellen Alarilla, which explains the impact that Connect to Learn has had in Myanmar over the past few years!

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To learn more about Ericsson’s sustainability work, check out our Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Report 2017 at: www.ericsson.com/sustainability-report


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