2002 Information Communication Technologies (ICT) for education and building human capital (UN ITU)

United Nations & NGOs
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In the past decade, governments in both rich and middle-income countries have invested enormously in ICT in education, especially in schools. Universities have also invested, sometimes for the benefit of students or administrators on their campuses, and sometimes to facilitate distance learning, which has expanded rapidly, especially for the delivery of MBA programmes in the developed world and for educational expansion in general in the developing world. Finally, many employers in both the public and private sectors have experimented with ICT to deliver job training.

ICT in education holds out much promises – of lower costs, wider access and more precise delivery of the right course at the right level and the right time. But experience so far has been mixed. This paper will review what has been achieved so far and examine the possibilities for the future and the scope of overcoming some of the challenges that have emerged.

Information is uneven, with a large number of studies of distance learning and some of ICT in schools, but less on its use on campus in universities and for job training. Good information is also relatively rare for the two most common uses of ICT in universities, for the purpose of giving students online access to publications (i.e. as an extension of the library) and for streamlining administration.

Under this topic, the following key issues will be explored:

1. What do we mean by education? What kind of human capital are we trying to build?

2. Distance Learning. What do we mean by distance learning?  What are the different forms of distance learning?

3. Technology can be used in different ways. What are the uses of ICTs in building human capital? Where has it been well developed and where is it relatively new? Why use ICTs? To cut costs? To improve quality?

4. Evaluating ICTs. The difficulties involved in evaluation. Compared with what? How well are other educational interventions evaluated?

5. The benefits of ICTs. Are educational outcomes improved? Can courses be launched and updated more readily? How do ICTs enhance access to education?

6. The cost of ICTs.

7. What technological improvements would raise the impact of ICTs on education?