|Yemens Public and Private Sectors Look Ahead Together
At a recent gathering in Taiz, Yemen, leading members of the public and private sectors, and the international donor community met to discuss ways of propelling Yemens education system forward through the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT). The Looking Forward Summit: Harnessing ICT to Build the Future of Yemeni Education was presented by the Prime Minister and facilitated by EDC. The summit was a culminating event for the dot-EDU project Internet in Yemeni High Schools (IYHS) and the Instructional Leadership in Schools Initiative (ILSI) projects funded by USAID and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), two projects that have been working in Yemen to integrate appropriate technologies in schools and grow capacity within its education system.
High-ranking officials, including the Minister of Telecommunications and Information, the Governor of Taiz, Education Team Leader of USAID and the Deputy Minister of Education addressed the 70 attendees. In the spirit of partnership, leaders from industry and representatives from the World Bank, GTZ and the Dutch Development branch saw presentations of a variety of technologies in action to demonstrate how new technologies can support increased quality of and access to education in Yemen.
The purpose of the summit was to bring stakeholders together to build consensus and begin a process of collaboration in an effort to produce a national ICT strategy for Yemens Ministry of Education. Opening comments focused on improving access and quality of education to help Yemen upgrade its current education system and ultimately increase its economic development and competitiveness in the international marketplace. The Minister of Telecommunications and Information emphasized the potential of ICT combined with education to provide students and teachers with access to information that will help promote development and peace in Yemen and throughout the world.
During the first day, attendees discussed the Yemeni education context and the challenges facing the system. Speakers shared existing technologies and content that might be used to meet these challenges. Demonstrations ranged from lower tech interactive radio instruction, where a classroom of 3rd graders and their teacher enacted a live demonstration of IRI in action, to free online resources and the latest in handheld. Each technology was discussed in terms of its ability to improve teacher support and professional development.
At the first days conclusion, attendees grouped together to informally discuss the days events and reflect on its implications. Topics included availability of resources to implement change, potential collaborations among public, private and donor communities and what are the most significant challenges that impede developing and implementing an ICT strategy and implementation plan.
The second day was spent in small teams, where public and private sector representatives, and those from the donor community worked together first reflecting on the demonstrations of the previous day and then brainstorming ways ICT can help Yemen meet its unique and shared educational challenges. Groups generated headlines from the summit and consensus was reached on the need for supporting Yemens goals of educational progress through a national ICT strategy.
At the end of the two day summit, a steering committee consisting of public, private and donor representatives was created and a timeline for action was established. One the steering committee will be to create a broader advisory group with an expanded representation from stakeholders. The committees will have representatives from the Yemen Ministry of Education, the international donor community and leaders in the private sector who will work together to create a national ICT plan for Yemen with a focus on ways the public and private sectors can collaborate with the Ministry of Education to address the educational needs of Yemen. This work will initially be supported by the ILSI project, which will provide technical assistance in creating a framework and process for the advisory and steering committees to create the national ICT strategy over the next 6 12 months.
One initial output of the gathering is that two national industrial leaders stepped forward and pledged to support efforts to provide ICT and appropriate teacher training to high schools in Yemen, which will benefit not only students but members of the future workforce. This effort will be coordinated with local and national ministries of education to align goals and test new models, resulting in what should be a very strong public private partnership.
For more on the dot-EDU project in Yemen, go visit the Internet for Yemeni High Schools' web page.