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29 Nov 2022

Event Highlights: NORRAG Expert Consultation on the 2023 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report on Technology and Education

On Thursday 3 November 2022, a group comprising 39 participants from academia, bilateral donors, development agencies, governments, implementing organisations, non-governmental organisations and the private sector participated in an online consultation convened by NORRAG. 

The consultation focused on the 2022 and 2023 GEM Reports and the role, impact and influence of corporations and philanthropies in the development of education technology. The consultation looked into issues related to procurement, governance and influence, outlining the processes by which governments roll out technology in education systems and in classrooms. The key contributions of the consultation will feed into the development of the 2023 GEM Report.

After opening remarks from Moira V. Faul, NORRAG Executive Director, and a presentation of the 2023 Concept Note by Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring Report, the participants engaged in two panel discussions. Four panellists provided brief reflections in each panel and participants were then invited to share their thoughts during a workshop. Their feedback and comments were collected in an online notice board.

Panel 1: Governance and Procurement was moderated by Anna d’Addio from the GEM Report, with the participation of panellists from USAID (Semra Seifu), Global Partnership for Education (Stijn De Lameillieure), FHI360 (Stephen Luke) and Education Business Vertical, HP (Mayank Dhingra). 

All expert participants then responded to two questions

  1. How are different state and non-state actors working together to procure education technology and deliver education services with the use of technology at different education levels? What has changed after the Covid-19 pandemic?
  2. What public policies that promote the provision of technology have been successful in terms of their impact on equity, efficiency and effectiveness in education?

In this first panel, the experts converged on the need to involve stakeholders at the civil society, government and private sector level, keeping in mind the features of the national ecosystems in which education technology is delivered. The key role of the private sector was reiterated, alongside core principles of equity, transparency and sustainability that need to be applied in these partnerships. Experts in the panel agreed that project implementation has to be evidence-based, to provide decision-makers and educators with the knowledge and tools to apply technology in education. Participants agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the inclusion of technology in education, although challenges to its application and scaling persist in some national contexts.

Panel 2: Influence was moderated by Lara Patil from NORRAG, with the participation of panellists from the University of Edinburgh (Michael Gallagher), Brooklyn School of Law (Dana Brakman Reiser), University of Cambridge (Kathryn Moeller) and Instituto Educadigital (Priscila Gonsales)

All experts then responded to two questions

  1. From your unique perspective, what are some of the emerging roles and key trends driving the engagement of technology actors in education development?
  2. What are potential trade-offs of their engagement? How might the power and influence of technology actors, and of the platforms and products they offer, have implications for education governance and systems of public education?

Experts mentioned some of the possible trade-offs of increased education technology. These include increased datafication of learning, environmental consequences of technology waste and the marginalisation of vulnerable groups that do not have access to these tools. Experts highlighted that data-driven business models are increasing in the education sector. With regards to private sector engagement, transparency and accountability are reiterated as key principles here also, to ensure that the priority of these actors is to equally advance the interests of learners. Thus, practitioners are called to ensure that the link between economic profit and educational value is balanced.

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