Picture of NSW Education Minister Adrian PiccoliEvery generation speaks in fear of the pace of change it confronts and the need for the ‘next’ generation to be given the skills and competencies to not only manage the pace but, more hopefully, the consequences of change.

 

Equally each generation through public officials and those with a beneficent interest recognise and advocate for the provision of quality education as a critical catalyst for social and economic development. Over time past no one spoke more eloquently of the value of investment in the future of a society through an investment in the education of individuals than the third President of the United States of America Thomas Jefferson.

 

While Jefferson may have been limited in his social horizon by the convention of his time, not acknowledging the virtue of formal education for both genders, he was acutely aware of the value of education to ensuring a just, free and capable society.

 

Sadly the admonitions of Jefferson continue to have resonance in our 21st century society. Our challenges remain the same – how to create and maintain “a system of general instruction, which shall reach every  description of our citizens from the richest to the poorest.”

 

As we confront the challenge of reforming our education systems we have at our disposal the tools of the 21st century - innovative information technologies and the greatest access to information ever known to mankind.

 

Even with these advantages we do and must rely on the capacity and willingness of those who take on the role of teacher to impart knowledge and stimulate learning at every level of the education system. Our greatest challenge then may be to provide the dedicated teacher with the skills, knowledge and capacity to educate using resources that were not known to them when they were similarly educated.

 

These challenges are obviously greatest in societies that have limited financial and technological resources. On our geographic doorstep lie many of these nations.  

 

To support the South Pacific Islands in the task of education reform, the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the Commonwealth Secretariat (ComSec), Microsoft, and UNESCO, will bring together Education policy leaders and stakeholders, including Permanent Secretaries from across Commonwealth countries and territories in the region.

 

The Forum is focused on the theme ‘Teachers Creativity and Innovation: a Key to Success in the Caribbean’. It will explore how the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (CFT) has enhanced ICT integration in teaching and learning. Specifically, participants will be invited to explore the impacts of the innovative use of technology, including:

 

  • how it influences teacher development approaches that enable capacity building for the future; and
  • how the adoption of the UNESCO ICT CFT can support local educator development.

The ICT-CFT has been deployed in a growing number of countries around the world, and has been used in states and territories in Australia to influence their teacher professional development programs.

 

This year’s Forum will be held over two days (1st & 2nd May) at the Sydney offices of Microsoft Australia in North Ryde. The keynote address to the Forum will be delivered by the New South Wales Minister of Education, the Honourable Adrian Piccoli, MP.