Mr George Anastassopoulos, President of UNESCO’s General Conference, was also present at the prize-giving Ceremony.
The Director-General opened the prize-giving Ceremony by thanking his Majesty the King of Bahrain for his generosity which allowed for the creation of the Prize in 2005. He also paid tribute to Minister Al-Noaimi, who was “instrumental in establishing the Prize”, which rewards outstanding projects that use ICTs to enhance learning, teaching and overall educational performance. It consists of a diploma and a $50,000 USD award, to be divided equally between two laureates.
Recalling the collective commitment the international community had made to provide quality education to all by 2015, the Director-General argued that despite remarkable gains, progress overall has been slow and uneven. “More than halfway toward the deadline, it is clear that the international community must redouble its efforts. […] In this, we need to draw on policies and practices that work and have had proven success. The fuller and more effective use of ICTs will be an important part of this strategy”, he said.
Mr Matsuura underscored the role of ICTs in expanding access to education, especially in rural, remote and disadvantaged areas. “Communication technologies can also help countries to meet the massive shortage in qualified teachers, which the Education for All (EFA) High-Level Group has recognized as one of the major obstacles to EFA. An additional 18 million primary school teachers will be needed by 2015. To fill this gap, we must do more to harness the potential of ICTs to support teacher training and professional development,” he added.
The Director-General went on to highlight this year’s Prize theme, ‘Digital Opportunities for All: Preparing Students for 21st Century Skills’. He noted that “an impressive 67 projects from 47 countries were submitted for this year’s edition”. Mr Matsuura announced the two prize-winners and the two honourable mentions, and after Minister Al-Noaimi delivered his speech, they both presented the diplomas and checks to the Prize laureates.
The Shanghai TV University of China was rewarded for its programme ‘Turning the Digital Divide into Digital Opportunity: The Project for Building the Digital Lifelong Learning System in Shanghai’. Through satellite and network systems, this project brings high-quality digital educational resources to remote and underdeveloped regions in China. Professor Zhang Deming, President of Shanghai TV University, received the prize on behalf of his university.
Dr Hoda Baraka, of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of Egypt was the second winner. Dr Baraka was rewarded for her leadership of several national ICT projects aimed at enhancing education quality, combating illiteracy, and increasing access to learning, especially in remote areas.
One of the honourable mentions went to the ‘Schools Online Curriculum Services of Western Australia’s Department of Education and Training’, which has developed an Online Teaching Learning System to help teachers plan, deliver and monitor learning activities in line with Western Australia’s Curriculum Framework. Mrs Sally Mansfield, Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO, received the diploma on behalf of her country’s laureate.
The other honourable mention went to the ‘One Laptop Per Child’ programme of the Ministry of Education of Peru, which aims to provide teachers and students in rural elementary schools with XO laptop computers. Mr Harry Belevan McBride, Ambassador of Peru to France, Permanent Delegate of Peru to UNESCO, represented his country’s Ministry of Education and received the diploma from the hands of Mr Matsuura and Minister Al-Noaimi.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 003-2009 - Publication Date: 16-01-2009