How ICT education fuels sustainable development

shutterstock_61822006When it comes to improving the quality of life for developing nations, education has a huge role to play. This is why the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) – the global professional body for those working in information and communication technology (ICT) – places a heavy emphasis on efforts to accelerate the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) which seeks to: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Why ICT education is critical

In today’s rapidly evolving information-driven economy, IFIP believes education is critical, not only to equip the next generation of ICT professionals to design, build and maintain tomorrow’s technology innovations, but also to ensure that consumers are skilled in using ICT for work, business, learning, social connection and entertainment. Moves to train local people in ICT skills would better empower a nation to participate in the digital economy, providing opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship and infrastructure development.

IFIP has endorsed World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals and events since they began in 2003,  actively supported recent WSIS Forums through sponsorship and by conducting thematic workshops to explore different strategies developing countries can apply to enhance their capacity to leverage ICT more effectively.

IFIP commends ITU for its leadership role as a key driver of WSIS, helping to improve understanding of the UN SDGs and how they can be achieved.

The value of attending the WITFOR

A key IFIP initiative is the WITFOR (World IT Forum) event, the sixth edition of which will be held in Costa Rica next month (September 2016) with ITU Deputy Secretary-General, Malcolm Johnson, as a keynote speaker. This event brings together politicians, policymakers, researchers and ICT practitioners from developed, emerging and developing nations to discuss ICT policies, along with practical examples of how they are being applied in different countries to address challenges and enhance outcomes.

Past WITFORs, such as the one in India in 2012, had specific education-related themes whereby detailed case studies provided valuable insights of successful initiatives that might be replicated across nations. In this case, India as the host country showcased its experiences in developing a world-class ICT industry with highly-trained experts capable of taking on work from around the globe. For the first time, the 2012 WITFOR also involved education ministers as it focused on strategies to build a knowledge base and to boost its human capital.

WITFOR 2016 coincides with a meeting of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with cross-over activities from both events. There will be opportunities for the economic ministers and Costa Rica’s President, Luis Guillermo Solís, to take part in WITFOR discussions and gain new insights into how they might stimulate growth across the region.

In addition to WITFOR, IFIP also hosts regular summer schools where PhD students come together to present their research and share ideas, with scholarships provided for students from developing nations to enhance their participation.

IFIP is committed to supporting educational initiatives that help developing nations to thrive and take a more active role in the global economy. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with ITU in this way.

NOTE FROM ITU: To strengthen capacity building in the digital era, the ITU Global ICT Capacity Building Symposium (CBS) takes place in Nairobi, Kenya from 6-8 September 2016. 

Leon Strous 

LeonStrous-01 (002)

Leon Strous has served as President of IFIP (International Federation for Information Processing), the global professional body for those working in ICT, since 2009. Based in The Netherlands, he works as senior IT Auditor and Overseer in the Cash and Payment Systems Division of De Nederlandsche Bank, the country’s central bank, where is he focused on the security and resilience of payment systems. 

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