Jyrki Pulkkinen

Keynote Lecture I: Thursday 16 May 18.15 – 19.00

Information, knowledge and innovation as building blocks for inclusive knowledge societies. Experiences from the field and from global development organizations

This presentation will shed light on the practical development of ICT integration in education and development in developing countries by some international organizations and programmes. It will also elaborate the concept of Knowledge Society, which was introduced by UNESCO during the World Summit for Information Society in 2003 and 2005. This conceptual approach can broaden the traditional, “techno-didactical” scope of ICT in education to a systemic one. Systemic view to education makes it possible to see multiple processes in an education system where ICT could help us to overcome development challenges, like accessibility and affordability, quality, efficiency and relevance of educational services.

In a global context, ICT, especially the Internet, is increasingly the de-facto global infrastructure for information dissemination, knowledge building and innovative co-creation in all the sectors of society, and therefore fundamental foundation of inclusive knowledge societies. However, we still tend to think, that the fundamental foundation and the infrastructure of education system is the classroom. Also, many global initiatives like Education for All (EFA) or OLPC, seem to set the target based on this assumption, and therefore are deemed to fail. Despite of the good progress of EFA, the ultimate inclusive education system would require bringing education where the learners are with help of ICT, rather than just trying to fill classrooms with all the learners. How can we educate enough teachers and build enough classrooms to fill the knowledge gap in countries with fast growing population? And, what can a teacher do in a classroom with some 80-100 learners, as is still the case in many developing countries? 250 million children could be failing to read or write by the time they should reach grade 4! The global ICT in education community seems not yet to have proper solutions ready for learner centered approaches despite of many promising projects and efforts on e-learning and m-learning. The number of learners out of school is stagnated at the level of 61 million and almost 800 million adults are still illiterate. Should we be more innovative in education and look also beyond the classroom approach in order to reach the rest of learners in developing countries!

Within the traditional education discourse it is usually emphasized that ICT is only a tool for learning, and highlight the fact that we should not use ICT in education just because it is there. In my presentation I may want to be a bit provocative, and to suggest that we should use ICT in education just because it is there. Can education be integrated to ICT (Internet), rather than integrate ICT to education? Yes, I know, this may be a too provocative question, but the critical question in educational development is: can any single learner be excluded from this fundamental global “knowledge” infrastructure, or the “Internet universality”, as UNESCO recently calls it in the consultations of the WSIS (World Summit on the Information Society) follow-up process.

Dr. Jyrki Pulkkinen is a senior adviser at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland where he is responsible for development policies related to Information Society, Science, Technology and Innovation.  He is also the Chair of the UNESCO IPDC Intergovernmental Council. Prior to joining the Ministry Dr. Pulkkinen worked as the CEO of GESCI, an UN ICT Taskforce initiated international organization based in Dublin and Nairobi.
Read more