Technology alone will not bridge the information and knowledge divides but political and social environments have to be developed that enable knowledge creation, preservation, acquisition and sharing, said UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, Abdul Waheed Khan, in Maastricht, The Netherlands yesterday.
Addressing the 23rd World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE), Khan said that “knowledge plays, in today’s world, a key role in economic growth, social development, cultural enrichment and political empowerment.”
But if ICT enhanced knowledge acquisition and sharing is to be applied successfully, sustainably and for the benefit of larger segments of society, we must create enabling environments, build adequate infrastructure and establish multistakeholder partnerships, Khan stressed.
Introducing UNESCO’s concept of knowledge societies that includes notions of inclusiveness, pluralism, equity, openness and participation as distinct from information society, he said that “knowledge societies should not be shaped and driven by technological forces but by societal choices”.
The concept includes four key principles, namely: freedom of expression; universal access to information and knowledge; respect for cultural and linguistic diversity; and quality education for all, that according to Khan “remain valid when the world is going through one of its most serious crises since decades, if not centuries”. “My optimism is based on the fact that Government leaders increasingly recognize the fact that investments in the large and complex knowledge domains are critical to laying the foundation for recovery, sustainable development, economic growth and prosperity”, he added.
He also said that in the coming decades the importance of acquiring factual knowledge will decrease. At the same time, the ability to find one’s way in complex information systems and to judge, organize and creatively use relevant data will become crucial. In addition, new skills need to be acquired to live in virtual social networks and to create own content online.
The Maastricht Conference in Maastricht was put under the theme “Flexible Education for All Open – Global – Innovative”
ICDE is an NGO with formal consultative relations with UNESCO provides a framework for cooperation and development in open distance and web-based learning with its member ship including universities, schools, companies and educational authorities in more than 135 countries.
- Related Links:
* Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Abdul Waheed Khan
* Conference website
- More ressources (pictures, discussion forum, etc.)
- Contact: Axel Plathe, Chief of the Executive Office