Friends suggested that if I was able to take any time off from the North American School of Internet Governance meeting, and ICANN 61 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I should try and visit Old San Juan (Viejo San Juan). So, on a warm, sunny March afternoon I set about exploring the old part of the city, which was a fair walk from the Convention Centre!
San Juan was founded by the Spanish in the early 16th century, around a fine natural harbour, and until the 19th century almost all of the settlement was contained within the impressive walls and fortifications of the city. However, by the late-1940s the physical and social fabric of the old city was in a state of disrepair, with buildings decaying and prostitution widespread. There was strong pressure to demolish much of the old fabric, and construct new buildings with modern architectural designs. Instead, thanks largely to local activism, especially by the anthropologist Ricardo Alegria, it was agreed to remodel the old city using traditional Spanish motifs and design elements. In 1949 the San Juan Historic National Site was established, and this became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It is now a lively place with numerous restaurants, shops and historic sites, and I hope that the pictures below capture something of the bright colours, impressive situation, and considerable diversity of Old San Juan. Thanks so much to everyone who suggested I should visit it!
At the end of the last decade, I had the real pleasure of working with colleagues at the World Economic Forum and UNESCO on their Partnerships for Education initiative. Amongst many other things, this generated a number of useful materials for anyone interested in developing such partnerships in the future – but note that these are now based on the UNESCO site at http://www.unesco.org/pfore/ (and not at the former PforE site!).
I was therefore really delighted when Alex Wong at the Forum invited me last year to work with him on writing a reflection on all that the World Economic Forum’s Global Education Initiative (GEI) achieved. My one condition was that anything we wrote should reflect not only the successes, but also the problems and challenges faced by the initiative! I think we often learn more by our failures than our successes. In writing the report, we interviewed many of those who had been involved in the GEI’s various initiatives, and sought to craft a document that included many of their insightful comments.
This report has recently been published, under the title Global Education Initiative: Retrospective on Partnerships for Education Development 2003-2011 (Geneva: World Economic Forum, 2012). As well as providing an overview on all of the diverse elements of the GEI, it draws together our reflections on the nine key things necessary for the implementation of successful multi-stakeholder partnerships for education:
- High level leadership
- A partnership broker that is knowledgeable about the education sector
- That broker also being trusted and neutral
- Beginning with the educational outcomes in mind
- The central role played by Ministries of Education
- Effective project management
- Adequate and timely resourcing
- Consistent strategy and flexible delivery and
- Effective internal and external communication
The sixty page report contains much more than this, though, and I really hope that it will provide a useful guide for anyone thinking of using multi-stakeholder partnerships to deliver effective educational initiatives.
UNESCO has recently published a short report by a group of experts on “ICT for persons with disabilities“.
This presented the following recommendations to UNESCO for consideration:
“Making UNESCO ICT-accessible
The group of experts recommended that UNESCO should ensure overall accessibility of persons with disabilities. To achieve this goal the Organization should improve its online presence and the accessibility of its website. It should also create accessible physical environment, develop appropriate procurement and recruitment policies, and ensure training and retaining of the employees.
Mainstreaming ICT in inclusive education
UNESCO is encouraged to foster effective use of ICT that are accessible, adaptive and affordable for person with disabilities. Specific guidelines and tools are needed to teach persons with disabilities and to ensure that corresponding ICT competencies are embedded in initial teacher training.
Mobilizing resources and international cooperation
The experts stressed the importance of identifying arguments for shifts in policy practices and determining funding opportunities where UNESCO could get involved. It is important to cooperate with organizations of persons with disabilities in order to get the best possible input and to have credible action lines and projects for funding.
Creating an information and knowledge access ecosystem
This recommendation focuses on “touch points”, such as WorldWide Web, broadcasting, publishing, languages, etc., in the system in which people and humans interact with information and services. It also includes e-governance, which could be used to promote e-voting and e-democracy initiatives for citizen participation in an accessible way, as well increase participation in cultural activities.”
The Open Educational Quality Initiative’s (OPAL) workshop at UNESCO in Paris on 8th and 9th November offered a valuable opportunity to explore a range of issues relating to how we can build on Open Educational Resources to encourage Open Educational Practices.
Below are the mind maps I constructed from our discussions on the following themes (click on the image to get higher resolution and larger versions!). Thanks to everyone who contributed to shaping my thoughts in these ways.
What are the main opportunities offered by Open Educational Resources?
What are the key challenges for preventing the implementation of the OPAL vision?
Reflections on the OPAL model – does it capture the different aspects of OER practices?
How can we best contribute?
Thanks to everyone who put this interesting gathering together – especially Ulf and Gráinne. Everything can be followed up on the OPAL site and its Cloudworks environment.