A Call for Global Guidelines on Digital Learning at the High Level Policy Forum

The High-level Policy Forum acted as a prelude to TECH 2018, specifically targeting policymakers, during which the participants deliberated upon the Vizag declaration that calls for UNESCO MGIEP to initiate a process to develop the guidelines and present them to the 2019 UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France.

November 21, 2018 | Visakhapatnam, State of Andhra Pradesh, India

The UNESCO MGIEP (Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development) in association with Government of Andhra Pradesh conducted a High-Level Policy Forum at Visakhapatnam City, Andhra Pradesh, India on November 14, 2018. The forum brought together a distinguished group of experts and policy-makers, who gathered to discuss the process of developing global guidelines for digital learning resources. The forum was attended by over 70 policy-makers, domain experts from Artificial Intelligence (AI), education, neuroscience, data science and legal experts; digital instruction designers, game designers; industry representatives from Samsung and Microsoft and Ed. tech startups. 

The High-level Policy Forum acted as a prelude to TECH 2018, specifically targeting policymakers. It was chaired by the former President of Kyrgyzstan, H.E. Ms. Roza Otunbyueva. Some other dignitaries participating in the discussion included H.E Ms. Emmalin Pierre, Minister for Education, Human Resource Development and Religious Affairs, Government of Grenada; Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum, Deputy Minister in Charge of General Education, Ministry of Education, Ghana; Prof. Dr. Yasser Refaat Abdel Fattah Mohamed, Vice Minister of Higher Education, Egypt; Dr. N Saravana Kumar, Joint Secretary ICC, MHRD Government of India; Shri Adityanath Das, Special Chief Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh.

The deliberations of the forum were structured under the following topics: Quality of Digital Learning Resources, including degree of usage and penetration, the intention for scaling and mechanism for monitoring and quality control) in Present Education Systems – especially in represented countries; Grenada, Egypt, Bhutan, Malaysia, India, Senegal, Quebec and Kyrgyzstan; Global Guidelines on Digital Learning: Why? and Discussion and finalization of the Draft of the Vizag Declaration on Global Guidelines for Digital Learning to initiate a process to develop the guidelines and present them to the 2019 UNESCO General Conference in Paris, France.

H.E Roza Otunbayeva, Former President of Kyrgyzstan and Governing Board Member, UNESCO MGIEP expressed her views on digital technologies in education at the forum: "Many say that technology will further increase the inequality gap among the haves and the have-nots. I say the opposite will happen if we do not embrace the digital revolution and bring it to all students. In fact, I see it as the flattening factor for this unequal world we see today. The potential for scaling and making education inclusive is enormous and with costs falling exponentially, we should embrace this new technology. But as with all new things, we must also exercise caution.’’

UNESCO MGIEP believes that with the global Ed.Tech market set to touch two billion USD in India, and over 250 billion USD in the Asia Pacific region by 2022, it is time for some broad guidelines that countries can use for evaluating the quality and inclusiveness of digital educational content. Furthermore, with the massive influx of digital learning systems and solutions such as games, it has become extremely difficult for teachers, parents, and school leaders to assess products and monitor learning outcomes. A new learning ecosystem is needed to prepare students to understand, critique, and positively transform the social and cultural conditions they live in to enhance well-being for all. The conference aims to adapt all efforts in this direction towards placing social and emotional skills at the centre of these new developments.

The High Level Policy Forum participants discussed and provided input to the Background Document for Global Guidelines for Digital Learning. The speakers also discussed and finalised the Draft of the Vizag Declaration on Global Guidelines for Digital Learning. 

Prof Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP emphasized “the 21st century learner is a digital native, who needs to be both intellectually and emotionally resilient and it is time that our education system addresses this reality and adapts itself.” 

The finalised Vizag Declaration on Global Guidelines for Digital Learning was presented on the last day of TECH 2018 and was adopted at the closing ceremony of TECH 2018, in a formal announcement made by Shri Ganta Srinivasa Rao, Minister of Human Resources Development, State Government of Andhra Pradesh. The adoption of the Vizag Declaration will officially kick-start the process of the development of Global Guidelines for Digital Learning. 

Related Links:

View and support the Vizag Declaration 

For details / information, please write to Ms. Archana CHAUDHARY, Executive Officer - Director's Office (a.chaudhary@unesco.org)