Page 10 of 13EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
This edition of the Digital Review has a number of chapters on ICT for education, and here we briefly touch on some of the larger trends. Given the awareness-raising and catalytic role of access to information for development, programs to eradicate illiteracy and support non-formal education through the increased use of ICTs such as radio, television, and the Internet are important. Furthermore, the development of the ICT sector in general depends on the preparedness and capacity of the critical mass who are the users, innovators, and developers of ICT applications in specific settings. Therefore, capacity and human development through ICT education remain a key policy focus for Asia Pacific countries.
In Brunei, for example, the Ministry of Education is involved in designing different programs related to ICT training and have introduced "e-learning systems" in all higher academic institutions that standardize Web technologies for creative learning environments. The Government of the Republic of Korea actually launched a separate program called the "IT Education and Training Plan for 10 Million People" in 2000 where they educated 13.8 million Koreans, including many employees of different government organizations. In 2004, they launched another program, called "Mid- to Long-Term Plan for Reducing the Digital Divide", where a key objective has been to develop computer literacy and capacity by offering different training programs. The Thai government has supported the availability of cheap computers (USD 230 per computer with a monitor) in the country and its introduction in different education institutes.
These examples indicate that many governments in the region are committed to the "development of ICT" by providing hardware, laying out infrastructure, and offering ICT training courses. This comes from a historical understanding of ICT as an independent field. But policies are being developed that respond to ICT as an enabling platform that crosses many fields. For example, the new Australian government's "education revolution" policy not only discusses ICT capacity development in all secondary schools, but also acknowledges that "computer technology is no longer just a key subject to learn, it is now the key to learning in almost every subject". The policy also aims to provide broadband or equivalent connection and one computer for each child in all secondary schools in Australia.
Almost all countries in the Asia Pacific region have advanced programs in computer education, particularly at university or higher education levels, and it is interesting to see that some countries do not necessarily have such programs at the lower levels. Take the example of the Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, and Nepal. Maldives College started to offer degree programs in Information Technology (IT) in 2005 and Villa College has been offering courses in computing and IT since 2007. In Myanmar, the University of Computer Studies in Yangon and the University of Computer Studies in Mandalay have started to offer degrees in computer science. On the other hand, countries such as India have emerged as pioneers in IT education and have been franchising their IT education businesses in different Asian countries using brand names such as Aptech and NIIT. One of India's most renowned IT institutes, the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT), Bangalore, has started to make its science and engineering courses freely available on YouTube (youtube.com/nptelhrd.com) on a trial basis (Rebello 2008). The project is part of the National Project on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL), a joint venture between the seven IITs and the Indian Institute of Science funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.