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ICT in Education: Gender and Persons with Specific Needs, two emerging issues

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In order to promote the emergence of an inclusive school in Africa, ICT integration in education systems will now consider the question of gender and Persons with Special Needs (disabilities, children with special educational needs, etc.).

 


To celebrate the 20th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day, UNESCO organized from 6 to 7 October 2014 a High Level Forum in Paris on the theme “Teaching today: Focus on professional development and the conditions for exercising worldwide”. This forum has enabled 400 participants from all continents to discuss and exchange in four workshops on topics such as:

  • Life and working conditions of teachers;

  • Teachers’ continuous professional development;

  • How ICT can support teacher training?

  • Pedagogical innovations in education.

Beyond tributes to teachers, these fighters for the welfare of humanity, presentations and discussions in the workshop How ICT can support teacher training?, were rewarding in the sense that they have emergence of a number of topics in the fields of ICT integration in education. Indeed, the five (5) workshop presentations, two focused on two major issues of inclusive education. The first made ​​by Prof. Serge Ebersold focused on the theme « ICT, teacher training and inclusive education: a mean for innovation and quality » in which the author insists on the inclusion of Persons with Specific Needs in the training of teachers in the integration of ICT. For him it is necessary, for example, teachers can beings capable of engaging learners with special needs and their parents in the selection of assistive technology. The second presentation by Nancy J. Hafkin of Wisat focused on « Gender, ICT and teacher training » In his presentation, the author pointed out that to give the same opportunity to students of the 21st century with ICT, it was urgent to address issues of gender in teacher training in ICT integration. Indeed, it is for example emerged from his experiences that girls are often limited in access to the computer whether at school or at home. This example was corroborated by a situation experienced in Uganda by Prof Karsenti during the implementation of ICT integration project in schools. To promote girls’ access to computer rooms, officials had to develop a schedule of access taking into account of gender. For example, Mondays and Wednesdays were reserved for boys. Tuesday and Thursday for girls. On Friday, the room was open to all.

 

Beyond to teacher training, the two issues that have emerged in the workshop underscore the need to take account of Gender and Persons with Specific Needs in the establishment of policies and integration of ICT in education programs.

 

Indeed, two major themes are now fairly discussed in international forums regarding educational issues. The first is an inclusive education and second the use of ICT to enhance teaching and learning. On analysis, it is urged politicians, experts and practitioners that ICT is used to achieve the goal of inclusive quality education. And to do that, it will act on two levels that we think are important. The first is during the development of policies and programs for the integration of ICT in Education. Such policies and programs should, in the interests of inclusive education, consider the issue of gender and that of Persons with Specific Needs. The second, the development of initial and continuing training of staff in educational systems (teachers, instructional coaches and supervisors of school life) should mainstream gender and that of Special Needs Persons.

 

While African countries are now in a process of integration ICT in their respective education systems, it is imperative that the design of policies and programs, these countries can already accommodate these two themes that emerge. Otherwise, the integration of ICT in these systems exasperate the existing educational divide.