ICT in Education Connecting Central and Western Asia [Sponsored Seminar - Microsoft with Intel]

4 May 2014, 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm, Congress Hall 4

With information and communications technology (ICT) as a fundamental requirement for work in the 21st Century, most of the countries of Central and West Asia have embraced the need for ICT in education. To address this demand, many countries have adopted ICT development policies in their national education systems and made substantial investments over the past 10 years in hardware, software, and internet connectivity. These investments have been well received and supported by parents and students since ICT knowledge is perceived as a path to better employment, higher salaries, mobility and increased standards of living. Education is central to empowering youth, inclusive growth and the economic development and competitiveness of countries. As such, across the region, countries strive with great ambition to provide as much technology as their financial resources will allow. The results have been impressive with ICT and internet penetration rates in some countries approaching 100% of the schools, while other countries are still aspiring to more technology and e-curriculum in the classrooms.

Despite the widespread acceptance of ICT in the education curriculum, the actual levels of technology penetration and use vary widely from country to country in Central and West Asia. Several factors contribute to the uneven distribution of ICT including lack of financial resources for education in general — including building and maintaining schools, insufficient teacher training and resistance to adopting new tools and technologies in the classroom, shortages of resources and skills for maintaining the infrastructure, a lack of usable e-content for most subjects, unwillingness of internet service providers to invest in rural connectivity, and poor classroom conditions. The result of these issues is that ICT in education remains in its infancy in the region and risks lagging far behind the rise of technology access across the general population where the availability of mobile phones, tablets, and connectivity continues to grow.

Technology can be an amazing catalyst for new ways of teaching and learning, but must be applied in the right way to be effective. Simple access to a computer does not mean a student is learning. Students need the right content and guidance to turn that computer into a real learning tool. Filling schools in Central and West Asia with technology will never be enough without thoughtful planning, well-trained teachers, and a committed community. Only through this partnership can ICT empower youth and drive inclusive growth. At the end of the day, education takes a collaborative and supportive ecosystem of all educational stakeholders and offers significant opportunities. Aside from teaching and learning scenarios, core business IT functions also operate inside an education institution. It is an exciting time for ICT in education. With the proliferation of extreme low cost devices and new less expensive broadband technologies, access and affordability of ICT have never been more promising.

Discussion Themes

In our session, a panel of ICT and education experts will examine the growing trends and issues facing Central and West Asia, including:

  1. Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession.
  2. Big Data management methodologies challenge higher education chief information officers as do the emergence of new scholarly forms of authoring, publishing, and researching.
  3. Economic pressures and new models of education are presenting unprecedented competition to traditional models of education.
  4. Keeping pace with the rapid proliferation of information, software tools, and devices is challenging for students and teachers alike.
  5. The world of work is increasingly collaborative, giving rise to reflection about the way student projects are structured.
  6. People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want and on any device.


Nurzhan Bakibayev
Advisor to General Director of Nazarbayev University Research and Innovation System (NURIS)

Dmitry Kessel
Intel Regional Manager for Kazakhstan, Central Asia and Caucasus

Ludmila Fateeva
Director International Organizations, Microsoft

Shanti Jagannathan
Senior Education Specialist, Regional and Sustainable Development Department, Asian Development Bank

Moderator: John Cann
Asia Director for Microsoft's International Organizations Group

Download panelists' bios