Digitalization and ICT have a tremendous impact all over the world, also in the global South. Even though computer use was long a privilege of citizens of industrialized nations, the access to mobile technologies has reached large populations everywhere. Digitalization could be empowering for people with modest means when the cost of mobile devices has brought them to the reach of more people than ever.
Global education is largely dominated by Western universities, and development of technology takes place in industrialized countries. Education is an essential tool for achieving sustainability. The situation in many developing countries is challenging: Good quality education is scarce; moreover, the national development policies are not always well-informed or sufficiently resourced. The curricula in African schools are based on Western models, as are most books and materials. The content of textbooks might be very remote from the everyday experience of students, adding an extra level of abstraction to the content to be learned. Therefore, students need to operate from two worldviews and often have two or more cultures to contend with. The education has very weak connections to the practical life of students, resulting in rote learning without reaching a de-contextualization of knowledge. The main teaching method in the crowded classrooms is lecturing and repeating the teacher’s words. Because of the shortage of materials such as textbooks or notebooks, students have to learn the material by heart. Furthermore, they are not able to practice writing sufficiently.
Because of the historical reasons, local education systems often focus on traditional subjects, while only a small proportion concentrates in emerging disciplines and professional training. However, the local education systems need to promptly seize the opportunities to accelerate provision of required skills to support innovation policies. the more technology-led future will require stronger thinking skills than ever . Thinking skills are developed in the education from early on, therefore, the importance of quality education and further training for teachers is crucial. Mother tongue education in primary schools is one of the keys to successful cognitive development. Development policies and projects need to emphasize quality education.
The local knowledge tends to get lost in a foreign-origin education system where the students are required to acquire a new, Western set of skills and which undervalues their existing skills. The organizers of this conference wish to promote strengthening education capacities in developing countries, particularly in the fields of ICTs and mobile technologies, as well as open source software and information, content management systems, and potential of cloud-based services in learning.
Strengthening local knowledge building would allow innovations based on local needs and potentials. Enhancing research capability in African, Latin American and Asian universities would diversify innovations in global scale.
We wish to invite all teachers, researchers, students, entrepreneurs and policy makers to discuss our common challenges in digitalization and education!