Initiative builds ecosystem to ensure education for all

Joseph Waring
14 Nov 2011

Society is becoming more and more connected yet according the Clinton Foundation, 100 million children globally don't attend school and another 100 million don't have trained teachers or any learning material.

Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg, speaking at the Networked Society Forum (or NEST) yesterday in Hong Kong, told its 80 participants it's time to close the education gap.

The forum brought together business leaders and government officials to discuss how ICT can be used to shape the future of education and learning globally. The event, organized by Ericsson, drew stakeholders from the ICT industry, governments, NGOs and academia, with discussions focusing on access for all and redefining education given the influence of 21st-century technology.

Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said he thinks we're on the verge of a revolution in education from the poorest regions of the world to the richest as technology empowers education in innovative and powerful ways.

"First, it can significantly lower the cost of providing education and allow curriculum to be bring into the most remote areas," Sachs said. "Second, you make information available to the whole society in ways that weren't possible even a few years ago. And thirdly, an very important, students are going to be working together in different parts of the world in ways that were also unimaginable not long ago."

After a full day of meetings on Saturday, Vestberg told the media yesterday morning that one accomplishment of the initiative was to break down some of the barriers between the private- and public-sector as well as academia so their can work together better.

He said that the first step to raise awareness and start the conversation was largely met, with the CEO committing to three promises. The first was to work toward defining specific metrics for measuring the impact of ICT on education, much like the commonly cited link between increased broadband penetration and higher GDP growth.

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