APEC Education Ministers: ICT in education key to achieving education goals

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)  Education Ministers acknowledged that enhancing information and communication technology (ICT) use in education will be key to achieving APEC’s education goals and to sustaining economic growth.

In a joint statement issued at the opening of the 5th APEC Education Ministerial Meeting held in Gyeongju, Korea recently, the ministers acknowledged the digital divide that exists within APEC economies, but pledged to foster greater innovation and strengthen cooperation in the region’s education systems.

"With increasing flow of investment, skilled labor, knowledge, and skills among economies, education is critical in facilitating regional economic integration and enhancing prosperity among the APEC member economies," the ministers said.

"We further recognize that the changing nature of work requires workers to have higher levels of high-quality education and the competencies demanded by the nature of work and the change in nature of education with the integration of technology and introduction of innovative teaching and learning practices," they added.

Held every four years, the ministerial meeting is the largest gathering of education officials in the Asia-Pacific region. This year's gathering was attended by representatives from all 21 APEC member-states and has a representative from Papua New Guinea for the first time.

Topics discussed include bridging gaps in knowledge on the educational system, policy levels, advancing practical education cooperation, and assessing the future directions and challenges of education in line with the APEC Summit issues.

While highlighting the role of ICT in social development, the ministers also acknowledged the role of teachers in this new educational landscape.

"We also recognize that there is a need to improve teachers’ capability to use ICT effectively so that they can help students acquire the 21st century competencies, and that considerable attention needs to be paid to teacher preparation and training," the ministers said. "Developing students with 21st century competencies requires fundamental and innovative changes in instruction and hence teacher preparation and development."