Thursday, 17 June 2010

How to save US$120,000,000 on ICT

ICT policies in high-income countries are diverse. Finland has the best educational system in the world which, interestingly enough, is not due to the use of ICT: according to an OECD study on ICT implementation (December 2008), the use of computers in classrooms systematically declined after 1999. France sticks to traditional teaching methods and holds back from installing expensive computer technology - waiting until it becomes affordable and is shown to make significant improvements in learning. As in Finland, computers are installed in labs to develop computer literacy; teachers mainly use computers for lesson preparation and students for certain homework tasks. The UK however, committed to computer assisted teaching from the start, has spent an estimated equivalent of 80 billion dollars over the last twenty years. So far, according to Pisa reports and independent research, this investment has not raised the level of learning outcomes. Recently, Becta advised the UK government to increase ICT budgets by 30% to ensure that previous investments become more effective. A kill or cure effort anticipating worse to come?

From: eSchoolNews June 10 by Meris Stansbury
ICT institute BECTA shut down - too costly
(photos © eSchoolNews)

As a cost-cutting measure, the new Tory Minister Nick Gibs (photo) announced on June 9 that Becta will be shut down in November 2010. He explained that "the savings in subsequent years will be £65m (US$120m)". Becta was set up in 1988 to promote the effective use of ICT in education. Through Becta’s work, UK schools have received expert advice on ICT purchases and classroom applications. According to its website, £1.5bn has been spent on computer technology for UK schools through Becta’s procurement agreements since 2002, saving the nation’s educational system £223m. Becta also says it has achieved cost savings of £55m for educational institutions and providers in the past year alone.
According to The Guardian newspaper, few were prepared for the 12-year agency’s closure, the loss of 240 jobs and the loss of what Becta chairman Graham Badman said about valuable ICT services provided for schools and their students. The UK government says Becta's closure will mean that individual schools will be able to decide for themselves how to use technology.
Read the full article here

Governments in middle and low income countries facing the enormous task of integrating computer technology into their educational system might want to take a close look at the role of Becta in the UK in order to imitate parts of it. If such an agency is set up to implement technology, it might be best to prevent it becoming self-reinforcing - a lobby for evermore, everywhere. "Becta “research” was subjective and far closer to marketing than anything I would describe as serious, academic research"*. Our advice is to select from the UK experience what has proved to work according to independent research and to adjust this to what is appropriate for your circumstances and calculate future costs of ownership by schools in relation to available budgets. See point 3 in 'Bridging the digital divide systematically', click: IT-ICT policy harmonised

* Qouted from John Donne: Becta Bites the Dust.

In the mean time:

Teachers in developing economies need in their classrooms robust and reliable tools.
The Nationwide Visualisation Project introduces on highschools simple to use teaching aids.
How to discuss remains of the earliest modern human found (Ethiopia -160,000 years)?
Below one of the 2500 visuals: "Put on - take off".

Just ask: "Who can explain what we see here?"

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