UNESCO Mobile Learning Week 2016: using technology to deliver quality learning opportunities for all

Education delivered via inexpensive smartphones can support new students, ensure lifelong learning, and transform the lives of girls and women.

How can technology ensure all young people, and not just a privileged few, have access to quality learning opportunities?

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova posed this question speaking last week at the official opening of UNESCO’s flagship ICT event, Mobile Learning Week.  

Highlighting the enormous growth in worldwide access to, and use of, inexpensive smartphones and tablet computers,  she identified four key areas in which mobile technology could promote education:

  • to support the influx of new students entering education systems in the next decade
  • to better connect learning to work
  • to ensure genuine lifelong learning
  • to transform the lives of girls and women.  

Bokova pointed that in low-to-middle income countries, a woman is 21 per cent less likely to own a mobile phone than a man. In developing countries, nearly 25 per cent fewer women than men have internet connectivity, and this gap rises to nearly 50 per cent in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.

We know the transformational power of education for girls and women, for societies as a whole”, said Bokova. “We know also that educational opportunities available to girls are often of inferior quality and that women stand on the wrong side of a digital divide. My question is what strategies do we need to ensure women have the same access to mobile technology as men and able to leverage it for learning and empowerment?

Mobile Learning Week is based around three main subthemes; making high-quality education a reality for all learners; improving pedagogy and the relevance of learning; and enhancing management, planning and evaluation.