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Thursday, August 04, 2005

UNESCO prepares to launch NET

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), has announced the plans to prepare teachers to judiciously use technologies for teaching and learning in what it called the Next Generation of Teachers (NET) Project.

The project, according to UNESCO office in Bangkok, is designed to assist teacher education institutions in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is one of UNESCO’s most recent initiatives for the professional development of teachers that the organization has supported in the past 60 years.

Director, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok, Sheldon Shaeffer, said that by 2008, all regional member states will be in a position to offer teachers an education on how and when to best use technologies for teaching and learning, through training which is integrated in all national pre-service teacher training institutions in the region.

“Learners will directly benefit from this new generation of well educated teachers, who will be empowered to use technologies and to facilitate the learners’ active participation in learning, and in the knowledge societies and economies”, Shaeffer said.

Key players in the Asia-Pacific Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Education field, UNESCO said, consist of EDUCOMP Datamatics Ltd, CISCO, Intel, Internexia and Microsoft have applauded this initiative, and have participated in workshops to further develop the concept and to discuss means of supporting it.

Microsoft was the first key player to pledge a support going beyond the sharing of materials and know-how with its Partners in Learning (PiL) programme, which has made a generous commitment to financially contribute to the success of this initiative.

Also, NET is anticipated to link and build on the achievements made and networks created in the conceptual phase and in other projects.
The intention, UNESCO noted, is to make this a “growing partnership” which includes all key organizations that are active in the field of professional development of teachers and that are concerned with ICT integration in teacher training.

The project has four main objectives, specifically focusing on assessing and meeting the needs of the Teacher Education Institutions (TEIs) in terms of technology integration; create a network of TEIs; receive, adapt and/or develop the materials needed: an assessment tool, curriculum framework, start-up kit, and training modules meeting the diverse needs of future teachers in the ASP region; and document and consolidate lessons learned to be used as feedback for policymaking and recommendations for institutional change in TEIs.

It would also be executed within the five types of beneficiaries and partners, which include the pupils who will benefit from the improved skills of teachers who facilitate students’ learning and prepare them for knowledge societies and economies; Future teachers -those enrolled in the TEIs, who are the direct beneficiaries of the project since they are the targeted participants of the training modules to help integrate ICT in teaching; and Participating TEIs together with the teacher trainers – a priority group – the administrators of the institutions and their selected faculty, who are also direct beneficiaries as the project will deal with countries and institutions that will collaborate and implement the training modules in their teacher education courses.

The selection of the countries and TEIs the official, said, would be based on an agreed set of criteria which includes willingness to integrate ICT in teacher education courses, institutional leadership among other areas.

The exact number of targeted TEI will only be decided after the detailed needs assessment, and after the fine-tuning of the strategies; even as policymakers and other TEI administrators, who will be the target audience when the lessons learned are documented and disseminated; and national governments will be beneficiaries and partners in this project.

This initiative hopes to assist governments in the region in their objectives of capacity building as they reform and re-align their national education systems, and drive to improve the quality of curriculum practices.

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