Richard Clarke, Director General for Policy, Research and Humanitarian at the UK’s Department for International Aid (DFID) announced today that a consortium involving Dr. David Hollow and Tim Unwin, both from our UNESCO Chair in ICT4D, has been awarded the contract to lead its new £20 m research and innovation hub on technology for education. This will explore how the world’s most marginalised children and young people can learn best through the use of new and innovative technologies. The members of the consortium are the Overseas Development Institute, the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge, Brink, Jigsaw Consult, Results for Development, Open Development and Education, AfriLabs, BRAC and eLearning Africa. David will serve as Research Co-Director and Tim as Chair of the Intellectual Leadership Group.
The new Hub aims to undertake and promote the highest quality of comparative and longitudinal research at the interface between technology and education, and then share the findings widely so that everyone is better aware about how technology can best serve the learning interests of the poorest and most marginalised. This builds in part on the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D’s long established experience on technology and learning, dating back to Tim’s leadership of the UK Prime Minister’s Imfundo initiative (2001-2004) creating partnerships for IT in education in Africa, our DelPHE and EDULINK funded collaboration with African universities, the wider work of the World Economic Forum and UNESCO Partnership for Education initiative between 2007 and 2011, and the cohort of PhD students doing research at the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D on technology and learning in Africa in the latter 2000s , including David Hollow and Marije Geldof.
We are all very excited to be a part of this new initiative, which will be the largest ever education and technology research and innovation programme designed specifically to improve teaching and learning, especially in poorer countries. It is a clear example of the ways through which research undertaken within the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D is having real global impact, and is the second £20 m grant to have been awarded to consortia that include members of the Chair in the last six months, the other being the UKRI GCRF South-South Migration, Inequality and Development Hub.
Members and Affiliated Members of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D would like to take this opportunity to share these images from a nativity scene in Macau earlier this month and wish all of their friends and colleagues a happy, peaceful and relaxed Christmas. According to the Gospels, Christ was born in a stable (homeless), to an unmarried mother, and then became a refugee as his parents fled from Palestine to Egypt. For those of us working in the field of ICT4D, it is a timely reminder of our commitment to using ICTs to serve the interests of the poorest and most marginalised, wherever they are to be found, and especially children, the homeless, minorities, and refugees.
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To coincide with the recent publication of Tim Unwin’s new book entitled Reclaiming Information and Communication Technologies for Development (Oxford University Press, 2017), the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D is convening a workshop on Friday 16th June (11.00-12.45 in Room Popov 1) at the 2017 WSIS Forum being held in Geneva. The key premise of the workshop is that the global spread of ICTs has increased inequality, and that the poorest and most marginalised have therefore failed sufficiently to benefit. The workshop will explore whether the continued focus on the ways through which ICTs can contribute to economic growth will inevitably lead to ever increasing, and dangerous, inequality, and will make recommendations as to how different stakeholders can best ensure that the poorest and most marginalised can indeed benefit from their use.
It will begin with short (5 minute) perspectives from some amazing people (listed in alphabetical order of first names):
- Alex Wong (Head, Global Challenge Partnerships & Member of the Executive Committee; Head of the Future of the Internet Global Challenge Initiative, World Economic Forum) on The power of partnership
- Dr. Bushra Hassan (School of Psychology, University of Sussex) on The wisdom of marginalised women
- Charlotte Smart (Digital Policy and Programme Manager, Department for International Development, UK) on The delivery of donors
- Michael Kende (Senior Advisor, Analysis Mason, and former Chief Economist of the Internet Society) on The trust in technology
- Nigel Hickson (VP IGO Engagement, ICANN) on The design of the domain name system
- Torbjörn Fredriksson (Head of ICT Analysis Section of the Division on Technology and Logistics, UNCTAD) on The energy of entrepreneurship
Following these short, and undoubtedly provocative, presentations there will be an open discussion focusing on participants’ thoughts as to what are the most important priorities for action that different stakeholders must take so that the poorest and most marginalised people and communities can indeed be empowered through the use of ICTs.
The workshop is open to everyone with interests in ways through which ICTs can indeed benefit poor people, and there will also be an opportunity after the workshop for participants to purchase copies of Reclaiming Information and Communication Technologies for Development at a 40% reduction from list price.
We very much look forward to seeing you in Geneva at the 2017 WSIS Forum.
Silvia Masiero (Loughborough University, and Affiliated Member of the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D) has just finished a fascinating seminar at the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D on The Affordances of Big Data for Poverty Reduction: Evidence from India, which raised many interesting questions about the relative benefits and challenges of biometric data, especially in the context of demonetisation in India. Slides of the presentation are available here, and her recent ICT4D briefing on the same subject is here.