Global education monitoring report summary, 2023: technology in education: a tool on whose terms?

Organisation(s): Global Education Monitoring Report Team

Publisher(s): UNESCO

Date: 2023

Pages: 35 p.

Technology’s role in education has been sparking intense debate for a long time. Does it democratize knowledge or threaten democracy by allowing a select few to control information? Does it offer boundless opportunities or lead towards a technology-dependent future with no return? Does it level the playing field or exacerbate inequality? Should it be used in teaching young children or is there a risk to their development? The debate has been fuelled by the COVID-19 school closures and the emergence of generative artificial intelligence. But as developers are often a step ahead of decision makers, research on education technology is complex. Robust, impartial evidence is scarce. Are societies even asking the right questions about education before turning to technology as a solution? Are they recognizing its risks as they seek out its benefits? Information and communication technology has potential to support equity and inclusion in terms of reaching disadvantaged learners and diffusing more knowledge in engaging and affordable formats. In certain contexts, and for some types of learning, it can improve the quality of teaching and learning basic skills. In any case, digital skills have become part of a basic skills package. Digital technology can also support management and increase efficiency, helping handle bigger volumes of education data. But technology can also exclude and be irrelevant and burdensome, if not outright harmful. Governments need to ensure the right conditions to enable equitable access to education for all, to regulate technology use so as to protect learners from its negative influences, and to prepare teachers. This report recommends that technology should be introduced into education on the basis of evidence showing that it would be appropriate, equitable, scalable and sustainable. In other words, its use should be in learners’ best interests and should complement face-to-face interaction with teachers. It should be seen as a tool to be used on these terms. Midway to the deadline, the 2023 Global Education Monitoring Report assesses the distance still to go to reach the 2030 education targets. Education is the key to unlocking the achievement of other development objectives, not least the goal of technological progress.

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