The ICT Strategy for the Education Sector, an integral part of the reform for Mauritius' learning sector, was presented yesterday afternoon by the Minister of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research, Mrs Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun, in Ebène.
During a press conference at the Hennessy Park Hotel, the Minister elaborated on Government's ICT Strategy which englobes the preprimary, primary, secondary and tertiary education subsectors. Today's world is ruled by the expansion of technology in all spheres and we cannot dissociate or disconnect education and training from technology and thus we need to give due importance to ICT in the education sector, she said.
According to Mrs Dookun-Luchoomun, education is mostly linked to the youth, who are known as digital natives given that they evolve with ICT, and they interact daily with technology in a totally different manner and with a disconcerting efficiency. Our duty, therefore, is to ensure that all Mauritian youth, without any distinction, access technology and acquire the necessary competencies to enable them use modern tools and be at par with their foreign peers, she pointed out.
The Minister also spoke about how technology is being used across the Ministry to offer better service as well as how learning experiences and teaching processes are being enhanced.
Speaking about the ICT Strategy, Minister Dookun-Luchoomun indicated that it englobes four ICT areas of focus/clusters: Infrastructure and Connectivity; Enhanced Teaching/Learning and Pedagogical Content Development; Education Management; and, Capacity-building and Professional Development.
ICT areas of focus/clusters
Under cluster one, the EDLP (Early Digital Learning Programme) Project for Grades 1 and 2 has been developed with the collaboration of the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE), the Mahatma Gandhi Institute (MGI) and EDCIL, India. The programme aims at aligning the integration of ICT into teaching and learning of pupils in the primary education subsector through the use of adapted tablets. These tablets encompass digital pedagogical contents such as: videos and e-books; interactive animations; hands-on activities; and drawing and creativity tools. The EDLP is expected to promote an early culture of IT use and practice as well as improve learning outcomes in ways appropriate to pupils' developmental level.
Moreover, the Ministry has completed the commissioning and distribution of 26 800 tablets and headsets across all primary schools, along with 250 wireless projectors and screens and 1 340 rack chargers.
As regards the secondary education subsector, students will benefit from the Student Support Programme (http://ssp.moemu.org), which is a web portal of free educational resources accessible from multiple platforms. The objective is to inculcate a culture of autonomous learning among students as from Grade 7. Resources available include supplementary notes; links to relevant websites; e-presentations; and self-assessment questions. The programme has been developed jointly with the Open University of Mauritius, MIE, MGI and the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT), India. The Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) is also assisting the Ministry with the creation of a Channel with a video on each subject.
Internet connectivity, under Infrastructure and Connectivity, will be enhanced in secondary schools from the present 2 Mbps to 10 Mbps and wireless connectivity will be extended in 160 secondary schools (State and Private). A total of 276 primary schools will also be connected to high speed broadband internet by end 2018 and WIFI hotspots will be made available in the future.
Additionally, all primary and secondary schools are equipped with Desktop Computers in their Computer Labs. A special budget was allocated for the purchase of 1 700 PCs last year and 1 400 for this year.
Cluster two, with regards to primary education includes the teaching of ICT as a non-core subject with two periods weekly. Pupils, in Grades 5 and 6, will undergo school-based assessments in view of the Primary School Achievement Certificate in 2018.
Higher Education Institutions initiatives pertaining to Cluster two, comprises the elaboration of a National Open Education Resources (OER) Policy with the support of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).
An Education Management Information System (EMIS) will be developed under Cluster three and will include the creation of an e-Timetable Software and a Document Management System (to be implemented as a Pilot project in the Tertiary Education and Scientific Research Division). For the Tertiary Education Sector, an integrated Campus Management System (CMS) will be implemented. Some of the benefits of the CMS are: an increased collaboration within and outside of the University; and an efficient administrative set-up.
Capacity-building and Professional Development - Cluster four - englobes the training of staff (Academics, Educators and administrative staff), and enlistment of the support of key stakeholders and linkages: Microsoft, Oracle, EDCIL, NCERT, World Bank, COL, MBC and UNESCO.