Our work on online freelancing has provided us with an interesting lens to think about jobs of the future. The demand for the kinds of work that can be done online seem to be changing at a rapid pace, and not in an easy-to-predict manner. The threat of automation is ever present. In that context, our Human Capital Research Team Leader (who is also deeply engaged with school reform in Sri Lanka) has been getting us to think about what all this should/could mean for general education. Thomas Friedman’s column on technology had added resonance in this context: Each time work gets outsourced or tasks get handed off to a machine, “we must reach up and learn a new skill or in some ways expand our capabilities as humans in order to fully realize our collaborative potential,” McGowan said.
The final reports on three systematic reviews have undergone review and have been published on the website of the Evidence for Policy and Practice Information and Co-ordinating Centre (EPPI-Centre). The three systematic reviews focused on ICTs & MSMEs, ICTs & education and ICTs and mobile financial services were funded by IDRC and DFID. The links to the final reports are given below. The impact of mobile financial services in low- and lower-middle-income countries Strategies for training or supporting teachers to integrate technology into the classroom Does access to business-relevant information through networked devices enhance the internal effciency and business growth of urban MSMEs in low- and middle- income countries?    
The 2017 Budget presented by the Minister of Finance of the Government of Sri Lanka proposed provision of “free Tabs for almost 175,000 students who enter the Advanced Level (AL) classes and around 28,000 A/L teachers from 2017.” LKR 5,000 million was allocated for this purpose. Given the fact that LIRNEasia had just completed a systematic review on ICTs in the classroom and had conducted an event to present the research to decision makers, we asked Kagnarith Chea, who participated in a related event to react to the government proposals. Kagnarith is . .
As can be seen, the language used by Sujata Gamage in her op ed on the education proposal in the 2017 Budget Speech was very nuanced and academic. But the problem was that politicians tend not to read to the end, choosing to form their opinion from the headline. In this instance, the headline was “Can tabs do what PCs or bricks could not do for education?” But looking at that headline, I do not see anything near the kind of attack common in many of mine. It after all ends with a question mark.
Key officials from the Ministry of Education and the National Institute of Education along with a range of stakeholders and suppliers of education assembled at the BMICH on the 26th of November to discuss the findings of LIRNEasia’s ICTs in the classroom Systematic Review. The findings were placed in context of other research such as the recent PISA study. Two speakers from neighboring countries, Anir Chowdhury from the Access to Information Unit of the Prime Minister’s Office of Bangladesh and Longkai Wu of the National Institute of Education Singapore, provided a comparative perspective. Sri Lankan efforts to leverage ICTs for educational purposes such as and e-takshilawa.
What do we know about the integration of ICT in education in Asia? Longkai WU, National Institute of Education (NIE) Nanyang Technological University Singapore.  
What do we know about the integration of ICT in education in Asia? Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor Access to Information (a2i) at Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh, November 26, 2015
A systematic review of ICT integration in education in the developed world. Presented by Sujata Gamage at ICT4Education Research Dissemination Event “Strategies for optimizing benefits of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for education in Developing Asia” held on 2016 Nov 26, 2015, at the Committee Room E, BMICH, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
It used to be that people contributed to or initiated policy debate through the media. Now it seems that Linked In or Facebook posts are the preferred medium. There is a shortcoming in this approach in that it is not truly public, but it may bleed into the public media through journalists who participate in these private fora. Something is better than nothing. My eyes were drawn to one of the three points raised recently for the attention of Sri Lanka’s ICT Agency: ICT is not another subject anymore.
Earlier today, I made a presentation at a well-attended lunch-time seminar at the LKY School at the National University of Singapore on the work done by LIRNEasia’s systematic review teams on mobile phone impacts in rural areas, mobile financial services and ICTs in the classroom. Sujata Gamage, the leader of the education SR team, presented the education section. The slides are here. Perhaps the most interesting thing I took away from the discussion was that generally SRs tend to systematically confirm what we already know. At most, like with our SR which showed that the evidence of impacts from mobile-based information services was not solid, it questions established knowledge.
It was in a difficult-to-find room, as far away as one could get from the conference registration area. But we had 50 engaged participants at the open session on systematic reviews organized by LIRNEasia at ICTD 2015. The presentations are below. Introduction Impact of mobiles Mobile financial services ICT in classroom ICTs in MSME The session report can be found HERE
The development of knowledge workers is obviously important for the emergence of inclusive knowledge economies. We have been working on this, but it has not been front and center of our public communication. This will change in the next little while. The 2015 Budget Speech of the Government of Sri Lanka placed its central emphasis on the development of human resources, as befits a country moving into middle-income status. But the policy proposals require some focus.
In a short piece reassessing the Sri Lanka government’s economic strategies centered on hubs, this is what I had to say on progress toward a knowledge hub. The controversial stuff on electricity, ports and aviation. Most progress has been achieved on this thrust, measured by the export revenues and numbers of jobs created by the IT and BPM [Business Process Management] sectors. But progress is needed on the foundational resource: a knowledgeable work force. Significant improvements have been achieved in tertiary and higher education.

ICTs and education

Posted by on May 25, 2014  /  0 Comments

Increasingly, we are beginning to hit the wall with respect to Internet use because of constraints that involve people. We lack users with the skills necessary to use full potential of the Internet. We lack the innovative entrepreneurs who could develop the content and apps that would attract more of our people to the Internet. The problem is illustrated by the puzzle of Sri Lanka’s low Internet user population (25 percent) and low use of Internet from the home (11 percent of households) despite the country offering the lowest broadband prices in the world. At these prices adoption should be rocket-like.
The Team Leader of LIRNEasia’s Human Capital Research Unit has published an analysis of a policy draft presented by the Ministry of Education. The proposed policy may be downloaded from here.
We have not written much about MOOCs so far on this blog, but have been following developments avidly. As LIRNEasia’s work in capacity building begins to take up more of our time, we need to think about how we can effectively mobilize ICTs in our work. The report that we highlight here seems to point the way forward. Ms. Junn hoped that blending M.
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