Improving Education through Information and Communication Technologies in Armenia and Tatarstan, Russia
The Governments of the Republic of Armenia and Tatarstan shared a similar aim: to improve the quality of their respective education system through the use of information and communications technology (ICT). Uruguay and Argentina were identified as the appropriate knowledge providers in helping Armenia and Tatarstan achieve better outcomes in education through ICT use by training teachers, designing e-contents and materials, and providing technical support to schools.
The Government of the Republic of Armenia recognized that the road to an improved education system could lead to reducing non-income poverty and stipulating economic growth. One priority of the Government of Armenia was to set up a single institution for introduction and management of ICT use in its education system. Similarly, the Republic of Tatarstan, a federal subject of the Russian Federation, identified ICT use in the education system as one of its development goals leading to increased prosperity and reduction of inequalities.
Both Uruguay and Argentina were recognized as having relevant, hands-on experience in setting-up a single institution to support the introduction and implementation of ICT use in education systems. A knowledge exchange among the four countries was initiated to address the importance of creating effective organizational arrangements, including adequate institutional strategy, financing, and staffing of a single government institution to achieve the development goals set by Armenia and Tatarstan.
Officials in Armenia and Tatarstan agreed with the World Bank that a knowledge exchange was the direction both countries needed to learn how to empower those institutions that promote ICT use in education. Uruguay and Argentina were both good examples of how to successfully manage ICT implementation, including training teachers, designing e-contents, providing adequate technical support and maintenance, and monitoring and evaluating the impact of ICT in education.
The experience of Uruguay in promoting ICT use in its education system was most identified through a single institution – Plan Ceibal, the national agency in charge of implementing the “One Laptop per Child” policy. Recognized as an example of a good international experience, Plan Ceibal had previously expressed interest in sharing knowledge internationally. Similarly, the Conectar Igualdad from Argentina, a federal initiative responsible for streamlining ICT use in education and their education portal, Educ.ar, were identified as having relevant experience in providing teacher training and developing e-content.
An arranged study visit of senior officials from Armenia and Tatarstan to Uruguay took place April 8 to 13, 2012. Officials from Argentina joined in Uruguay for activities, including:
- Reports by senior education officials from Argentina and Uruguay on their experience in teacher training, e-content design, logistical support, and monitoring and evaluation of the project; presentations by senior officials from Armenia and Tatarstan on their experience in ICT use that led to discussions on the remaining challenges;
- Field visits to two primary schools in Uruguay to directly experience the project realities and meet the implementation teams as well as the project beneficiaries, and identify good practice;
- Storytelling from the Ceibal Plan director on the Plan’s history, successes, and bottlenecks, and of teachers and students in Uruguayan schools on how ICT use impacted their work.
Participants from Armenia and Tatarstan reported satisfaction with the knowledge exchange by their having gained knowledge and understanding of the bottlenecks in promoting ICT use in education, the importance of teacher training, providing connectivity support to schools, and in general learning from hands-on experience of Uruguay and Argentina. More specifically, the exchange visit contributed to:
- Increased awareness of the need for strong political support in both Armenia and Tatarstan to enable ICT use in education. This need encompasses designing a clear strategy and supporting the work of and providing sufficient staff and financial resources to the single implementing institution responsible for ICT in education; and the required sustainable technical and connectivity support to ICT in education to build confidence among different stakeholders involved in the project.
- Improved understanding of how to design and implement the type of teacher training that would facilitate effective and sustainable use of ICT in education in both Armenia and Tatarstan.
- Increased commitment to support the design of e-content and e-materials deemed important components of the education strategy that supports improving the quality and accessibility of education at all levels.
- Strengthened motivation to further promote ICT use in education in Armenia and Tatarstan by observing the satisfaction of both students and teachers in selected schools in Uruguay.
- Organizing the knowledge exchange well in advance by including knowledge providers and involving them in the agenda design would increase ownership over the results of the knowledge exchange.
- Having knowledge seekers clearly identify their existing challenges and determine the objectives of the knowledge exchange in advance helps reaching the objectives and therefore increasing the individuals’ satisfaction.
- In case of different roles and needs of the selected knowledge recipients (as with the two countries in this exchange), forming smaller groups during the knowledge exchange helps achieving objectives and satisfying different learning needs.
- Taking into account the working hours during on-site visits ensures taking account of the specifics of those involved in the knowledge exchange.
The World Bank played the role of a knowledge broker, successfully identifying knowledge providers as well as providing financial and staff resources to the knowledge exchange. The World Bank staff in Montevideo helped in organizing meetings and arranging logistical support as well as hosting some of the meetings to provide officials from Armenia and Tatarstan with background information on the success factors in leading ICT projects in Uruguay.
- High-level officials from the Council of Preschool and Primary Education (CODICEN), Uruguay
- National Agency of International Cooperation, Uruguay
- Ministry of Education and Culture, Uruguay
- Plan Ceibal, Uruguay
- Ministry of Education, Argentina
- Conectar Igualdad, Argentina
- Education portal of Conectar Igualdad, Argentina
Senior officials of the Republic of Armenia identified Uruguay as a further point of reference in promoting ICT use in education and agreed on further knowledge exchange initiatives among NaCET and Plan Ceibal staff members. The feedback received from senior officials from Armenia and Tatarstan helped Plan Ceibal representatives in further strengthening their program of international knowledge exchange. Both knowledge providers and seekers also recognized the importance of monitoring and evaluating the role of ICT use in education and agreed this area could be of potential interest for knowledge exchanges in the future.
• Mr. Mher Ghazaryan, Head of Staff, Ministry of Education and Science;
• Ms. Hasmik Ghazaryan, Director, Center for Education Projects PIU;
• Mr. Artak Poghosyan, Director, National Center for Educational Technologies;
• Mr. Armen Kulakhszyan, Deputy Director, Head of Schools Internet Network Department, National Center for Educational Technologies;
• Ms. Syuzanna Makyan, Head of Preschool and Secondary Education Policy Development and Analysis Department, Ministry of Education and Science.
• Ms. Afanasieva Guselia Kabirovna, Senior Advisor, ICT Department, the Ministry of Education and Science;
• Mr. Futhutdinov Irek Maratovich, Director, Competencies Center;
• Ms. Malmygina Irina Aleksandrovna, Chief, Digital Technologies Laboratory;
• Ms. Zainullina Ramsia Narimanovna, School Principal, Municipal Autonomous Secondary School #56, Naberezhnyje Chelny;
• Mr. Imamov Ildar Faizovich, School Principal, School #177, Kazan.
Sharing Experience on ICT Use in Education: Implementation models for building and sustaining national ICT/education agencies (http://wbi.worldbank.org/sske/Data/wbi/wbicms/files/drupal-acquia/wbi/document_repository/gfr_-_sharing_experience_on_ict_use_in_education.pdf)
Ministry of Education and Science: http://mon.tatarstan.ru/eng/
Photo – School children each have their own laptops with Internet access – The World Bank - http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2012/08/03/one-laptop-per-child