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UNICEF brings modern technology to rural China

Carol Ko | May 26, 2009
Forty rural schools to get computers, Internet access, multi-media projectors and other educational materials

A school in Yunnan, one of the project sites of the UNICEF digital inclusion programme

HONG KONG, 26 MAY 2009 UNICEF has partnered with BT Group to bring modern technology to schools in poor rural areas of China to improve access to high quality education.

UNICEF (United Nations Children's Fund) is part of the United Nations System established in 1946. Headquartered in New York City, it is aimed at providing long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. BT Group is a fixed line telecommunications and broadband Internet provider based in the UK.

Benefiting 6,000 students

BT is investing 500,000 pounds (US$790,000) to benefit up to 6,000 students and 1,700 teachers across four provinces Qinghai, Ningxia, Yunnan and Jiangxi where there are high levels of digital exclusion.

Computers, Internet access, multi-media projectors and other educational materials will be provided in up to 40 rural schools which are under-resourced and have severely limited access to modern teaching aids and equipment. The initiative announced today aims to help children in these schools gain access to this kind of technology for the first time.

The initiative represents the third phase of BT and UNICEF's Inspiring Young Minds programme, a 1.5 million pound (US$2.38 million) global development partnership designed to bring education, technology and communication skills to children from disadvantaged backgrounds in South Africa, Brazil and China.

Yin Yinnwe, the UNICEF representative in China, said: Access to technology and quality teaching resources is limited in many rural schools in China. While gains are being made in access to education, the quality of learning and teaching lags behind in remote rural schools.

With BT's support, this project will bring 21st century technology to disadvantaged schools, enabling thousands of students and their teachers to share high quality educational resources and to develop new skills. This will help to raise the overall quality of education in rural schools, giving more children a better start in life, said Yin.

Online learning community

The project has been jointly designed by UNICEF and the Chinese Ministry of Education who will work closely to develop this programme into a replicable and sustainable model which could be expanded to other schools.

Activities supported by BT will include establishing an online learning community to enable teachers to explore information from the Internet, to learn from each other and to share teaching resources. Training in computer skills and how to develop innovative teaching methods using information technology will be provided to 40 per cent of teachers in project schools.

Kevin Taylor, chief operating officer for BT Asia Pacific said: Communications skills and technology can give individuals and communities everywhere the opportunity to improve lives and take part in the global economy.


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