Transcript of remarks by Anoop Gupta, Corporate Vice President, Unlimited Potential Group, Education Product Group, and Technology Policy and Strategy, Microsoft Corporation; Prof. Dr. Ir. Muhammad Nuh, DEA, Minister of Communications and Informatics, Republic of Indonesia; Prof. Dr. Bambang Sudibyo, Minister of National Education, Republic of Indonesia; Sheldon Shaeffer, Director, UNESCO Asia Pacific; Dr. Rom Hiranpruk, Director, Office of Knowledge Management and Development, Thailand; Prof. Jun Murai, Vice-President, Keio University, Japan
Government Leaders Forum Asia Pacific 2008 – Education Session
Thursday, May 8, 2008
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Corporate Vice President, Unlimited Potential Group, Microsoft Corporation, Anoop Gupta.
ANOOP GUPTA: Good morning. (Applause.) Welcome to the session on Education, and if all of you will start taking seats, we will start roughly in a minute from now, but it is important that everybody gets seated. Thank you. We will start in around 30 seconds.
All right. I hope you really enjoyed the first session this morning, and I was particularly impressed by Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan’s remarks on how the technology can be a powerful and compelling force, and yet how we need to have balance, how with humanity, dignity, care, we need to use it in causing the transformation.
So let me begin, and start with introducing myself. I am Anoop Gupta, and I head the Microsoft Education and Unlimited Potential Groups. The Microsoft story, and Bill Gates began 33 years ago, and it had a simple and powerful mission, which was how to enable a PC on every desktop and in every household. That was a compelling vision that has come true and has transformed the lives, the works, how people live, how people play, how people learn for the top billion people in the economic pyramid that is there. But when you look at the next five billion people, their aspirations, the opportunity for them is just as important. The charter of the Unlimited Potential for Microsoft is to say, how do we enable sustained economic and social opportunities for those next five billion people. This is not going to happen just with Microsoft, it is about how we partner together, governments, NGOs, educational institutions, industry in how we bring about this change that is there. It is about new forms of technologies, products, services, and business models. The same old won’t suffice. We need creativity, we need innovation, we need caring, we need passion in how we bring technology to bear for these next five billion people for the unlimited potential.
When we look at the overall unlimited potential mission, the core pillar behind it is education. It is about how we are going to transform education. And the role that technology is going to playing the transformation. It is almost axiomatic in some sense that a strong and inclusive education system is fundamental to raising the standards of people. To talk about it personally, you know, I am a product of the education system. I grew up in India in a middle class family, and went from the education system in India to my post-graduate work in the United States, to teaching at Stanford as faculty for 11 years before joining Microsoft and this current position.
When I talk to my children, I have three children 15, 13, and 10, it is about not just what they’re born with, but how they are going to compete, how they are going to lead productive, successful, caring lives in a global environment, and a global world, and what the importance of education is. It was very actually interesting to hear Secretary General Pitsuwan’s comments when he talked about gaming, and how it can be addictive. This is certainly a conversation that I have with my children all the time on how much time that they’re spending gaming. But, at the same time, while it’s the challenge with games, we need to be creative about it, and we need to think about balance.
In fact, on my flight here, I was reading a book by Steven Johnson, it’s actually a New York Times bestseller, which is ” Everything Bad is Good for You.” And in particular it focuses on gaming, and it says how these skills that the games provide today are keeping lots of things in mind at the same time, how do you set strategies, how do you make decisions, and goals. How in these multiplayer games you are doing communication and collaboration. If used in a creative way, if used in a successful way, they are providing some of the skills of critical thinking, problem solving that are necessary for the next world. It makes actually some very good points. In that because partly what we sometimes end up doing is looking at what next generation skills are needed through old standards. It’s like to today’s skills you say, no your multiplication table skills, and your addition skills are not as good, and you’ve got to really learn them well to compete. That’s not necessarily what is needed. It is about communication, collaboration, it is about problem-solving, it is about critical thinking, while still of course having a strong base in mathematics, science, reading, history, social. So part of my point here was, we just need to be very creative in how we think about all of these things.
Now the interesting thing is, while technology is going to be fundamental to how we scale, you know, it is one of the greatest tools that we can have in how learning happens. It is one of those which is used least effectively in today’s schools and institutions. Despite the dramatic ways in which IT has transformed our businesses, we find that our classrooms haven’t changed. I was at a recent meeting with a lot of education leaders, and we were discussing what are some of the major innovations in education in the last 30 years. I want to share three examples that came up on innovations. The first was, going from chalkboards to whiteboards, which don’t create a lot of dust, Innovation Number One. The second innovation they talked about was overhead projectors, and the third innovation they talked about, how PowerPoint has transformed education. And, you know, PowerPoint is a great program, I don’t want to have a career-limiting move out here by saying, it’s not the greatest. But the point is, unlike other industries, in medicine, in engineering, everywhere, how technology has transformed, in education we have not used technology, we have not used its potential to cause the transformation. And it is up to us to make sure we are taking the leadership.
Craig Mundie talked about many ways in which those transformations can take place, and how technology can enable access to everyone regardless of where they are, for the disabled people, for the disadvantaged people, how technology can lead to student-centered learning, where it is personalized, relevant, engaging. How technology can provide 21st Century skills of problem-solving, critical thinking, communications, and collaboration, and how technology can be a force to create learning communities, and how ideas get exchanged. And it’s particularly relevant in a country like Indonesia, when you think of, you know, 17,000 islands, many of them populated, where teachers feel in isolation, how do they learn best practices, what happens?
In fact, yesterday afternoon I spent one-and-a-half hours, and this relates actually to public partnerships, which I believe are hugely important in how we drive success. I spent two hours in a training session which is called Partners in Learning Master Trainer’s Session. And the goal was to train teachers on how they use technology, but not only how they personally use, they become evangelists in their school systems, in their districts, in creating sharing sites.
I had the opportunity to meet with (Mrs. Yayu ?), who is a chemistry teacher in Jakarta, has been teaching for 24 years, and the high school number is 67, and she shared how she’s creatively using technology, how she’s built a community site where she’s sharing her materials, how she’s going and recording videos of the lab experiments, because they have only one chemistry lab across the whole school. So the opportunities are endless.
Now, let me stop speaking, my role really here is, we have a wonderful group of keynote speakers, and panelists in this session that I’m delighted to introduce. It is around public-private partnership, and I want to start, you know, we are really fortunate to have both Ministers of Informatics and Communications here, and the Minister of Education from Indonesia, and a distinguished panel out here.
So let me begin by introducing Honorary Minister Muhammad Nuh. He is the Minister of Communications and Informatics for Indonesia, until recently, prior to that, he was the Director for ITS, which is one of the key schools in Indonesia, to come and share his remarks. Minister Nuh, please. (Applause.)
MUHAMMAD NUH: Good morning. Thank you, Gupta, distinguished speakers and participants. It gives me good honor to stand here at this very important and interesting event, namely Microsoft Government Leaders Forum Asia-Pacific 2008. I thank the organizers of this event for their great effort, and for giving me the opportunity to speak here today.
Speaking about ICT, we can just begin by observing its presence in every part of our life. Everyone in this room, and in the audience, who among us didn’t being a cell phone? ICT has changed the way of life, the way we work, and even the way we play or fill our leisure time. But the biggest contribution of ICT in our daily lives is definitely that it makes us more productive, more collaborative, and more creative. And those are exactly the three fundamental roles of ICT. Therefore, discussing about ICT is not about how important ICT is, but we should move forward to how to get the maximum benefit from ICT, for ourselves, for our organization, or our company, and more importantly for our country and our nations by utilizing the three fundamental roles of ICT. With proper design of ICT utilizations we can create creative contents and, in turn, can boost the economy through creative activities, driven and enabled by ICT.
Uses of creativity have played a vital role in every era of human history. Creativity has been a major driving force of societies in the course of history. During the 18th Century, society applied creativity to fulfill their basic need on agriculture. In the 19th Century, industry is the major focus of the era. Farmers are transformed to become factory workers, or laborers. In the 20th Century, along with the discovery of ICT, the information is used as a commodity, and some people are transformed to knowledge workers. In the beginning of the 21st Century, information no longer is used as a commodity, but with the proper conceptualization can be transformed to knowledge that can boost the creativity in order to survive from tough competition, survival of the fittest.
Creativity is bringing into being of something which did not exist before be it a product, a process, or a thought. In fact, we are all creative every day because we are constantly changing the ideas about the world around us. Creativity does not have to be about developing something new to the world. It has more to do with developing something new to ourselves. Creative economy is, therefore, economic activities to transform personal ideas of business into public ideas, products, and surfaces. In order to do that, we certainly depend on a good deal of knowledge combined with a positive and out of the box thinking which is formalized in creative industry. It is industry which has a source of individual creativity, talents, skill, and innovation. In creative industry, every person contributes values, not just functions. It is different than conventional industry, which needs many people to create an industry. This is why creative industry is believed to boost economy.
The cycle of learning through creative economy can be split into four quadrants, four characteristics, competence, incompetence, unconscious and conscious. In the first quadrant, people have the characteristics of unconscious and incompetent, where they don’t know what they don’t know. They haven’t had anything to do with and are inexperienced about some things. They are really passive, and lacking knowledge. In the second quadrant, people have awareness now about what they don’t know. They start to learn and gain knowledge from relevant sources. In the third quadrant, people know what they know. They can start to create innovations through inspired ideas, and enrich them with other people and knowledge resources. In the fourth quadrant, people know more than others know. They have potential knowledge, and many more chances to create innovation than others. Since knowledge is very crucial to development, to the development of creative economy, the production and delivery of learning material to reach critical mass is a prerequisite.
This topic will be discussed in great detail by the ministry of national education, Professor Bambang Sudibyo, however I will try to emphasize here that utilizing ICT, distance, and learning, an e-learning system will be very helpful. ICT and education which provides connectivity and knowledge sharing among of education, and research stakeholders, is a catalyst to establish a creative economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, Indonesia is a big country with all kinds of diversity, geographically, ethnically, religion, culture, language, education, and income. The archipelagoes of Indonesia also challenge the people to bring such diversity into unity, with 17,000 islands there is natural difficultly to provide the communications access to connect all Indonesians.
Communications and access is still a problem in which government has tried to solve, with several programs already being implemented. I dare to say that if someone can solve a problem in Indonesia, then he or she is the candidate that can solve the problem currently faced be the world at large, because we have complexity, we have many, many diversities, et cetera. Considering those difficulties, however, we have been able to reach penetration of the fixed access around 10 percent, and of the mobile phone at around 40 percent. Internet users are about 12 percent, with Internet kiosks around 8,000. However, 70 percent of all Internet users are still in a few big cities.
This is a challenge for us to increase the tele-density, and to provide comparable infrastructure in the diverse regions of Indonesia, to narrow the digital divide. Two flagship programs are launched concentrated on infrastructure availability. One is for increasing the tele-density by using a universal service obligation scheme. This project will provide an Internet access to all villages of Indonesia, which currently half of them have not been served. The other one is for providing backbone high-speed access, to cover the boundary of the eastern part of Indonesia, to the Palapa Ring. The Palapa Ring is essentially a domestic information backbone, using fiber optic 25,000 kilometers in total length, which the first stage comprises 10,000 kilometers in the eastern part of Indonesia. This effort has caught the attention of international institutions, which recognize it as the fourth largest in the digital opportunity index increments.
To achieve information accessibility, we are not focusing only on the infrastructure availability, but also about the affordability of the telecommunications services, and the social readiness of the people to utilize the infrastructure. Early this year we have been able to set up a firm policy regarding the interconnection tariffs, which ultimately are able to drive the total price down about 40 percent, and even in some cases can be as low as 70 percent. For we believe that availability has no meaning unless the people can afford to use the available infrastructure.
While increasing social readiness, we distribute information kiosks to villages as a means to educate them in utilizing ICT for their benefit. I’m convinced that with variable contributions from the distinguished speakers and panelists, this forum will come up with concrete outcomes towards Indonesia’s needs in using ICT, as a vehicle to reach national prosperity through creative economy, or any other way. We invite all participants to feel free to contribute, and share their ideas, and experience to make the discussion richer.
Thank you very much. And have a enjoyable discussion. Thank you. (Applause.)
ANOOP GUPTA: The next distinguished gentleman I’d like to invite is Honorary Minister Bambang Sudibyo, who is the Minister of Education for Indonesia to share his remarks with us. Please, Minister. (Applause.)
BAMBANG SUDIBYO: Thank you, Mr. Gupta from Microsoft, excellency, my colleague Mr. Muhammad Nuh, and I see Sheldon from UNESCO Bangkok, executives from Microsoft, distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen. (Speaking a foreign language.)
Lifelong learning, and education for sustainable development, currently the most well-accepted paradigms in education. These paradigms are the necessary conceptual conditions of the recently popular concept of learning society, or knowledge-based society, which in turn leads to yet another popular concept of creative economy, or an economy where the creative industries dominate the creation of GDP.
Given these paradigms, the focal, overriding objectives of education management at the national level of most countries, with sensible education commitment are: 1) to provide adequate and equitable access to education for all citizens; and 2) to improve the quality, comprehensiveness, and advance of education. Due to the reform, or Reformation Movement, in Indonesia since 1998, another objective is added specifically for Indonesia, that is number three, to improve governance, and accountability in education.
For Indonesia, the world’s fourth biggest country, and also the world’s biggest archipelago, these three objectives are to be achieved in the medium term, involving a population of more than 230 million. Out of them, more than 55 million are students. These students are taught by 2.7 million teachers working in 293,000 schools, and 300,000 universities instructors in more than 2,700 higher education institutions, living in more than 70,000 islands, and most of them are volcanic islands. And the people speak more than 700 local dialects, even though they all speak the national language of Bahasa Indonesia.
Ladies and gentlemen, given the size of the country, the size of the population, the geographical and geological foundation of the archipelago, and the cultural diversity of the people, Indonesia is always confronting the challenges of: 1) managing size or magnitude; 2) managing diversities; and 3) managing disparities, or divides. All are due to the naturally embedded space and time constraints, naturally produced by the many seas, and the many mountains, or mountain ranges of the volcanic archipelago.
To overcome this space and time constraint, thanks to the advance of ICT, the Ministry of National Education in 2005 decided to utilize ICT in large, and massive scale in education. Our ambition is that in the medium term all schools are equipped with computers, and are connected with Internet, and intranet that we build. We strongly believed that the application of ICT in education would improve: one, education access; second, educational quality, competitiveness and relevance; and third, education governance.
The next year, 2006, a high speed network called Jaringan Pendidikan Nasional which is abbreviated as Jardiknas, was installed, using fiber optic, cable radio, with IP broadband, and with SCPC, which I don’t know what it is, actually. Currently Jardiknas is the largest ICT network it the country. And is one of the seven flagships of the National ICT Board, formed in 2007, and chaired by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono himself. This move was in line with a commitment made by Indonesia during the World Summit of Information Society, sponsored by International Telecommunication Union, that by the year 2015 Indonesia must at least connect half of its primary, secondary, and tertiary education institutions with ICT networks. This, on the one hand meets the challenge of information society, and on the other hand is designed to fit local and national needs and context, and also achieve 50 percent national e-literacy.
Ladies and gentlemen, Jardiknas is an ICT infrastructure to facilitate e-learning for providing education access, quality, competitiveness, and relevance, and also to facilitate e-administration in education, for improving education governance. Jardiknas has four zones, School Net, INHERN, Indonesia Higher Education and Research Network, Office Net, and Personal Net. School Net has already connected more than 10,000 schools now. Inherent has connected 319 biggest, and best universities, serving more than 50 percent of Indonesian students at the higher education level. Office Net has connected all government education offices, at the central, provincial and district, or municipal levels. And Personal Net provides connection for more than 500 teachers.
The ICT roadmap of the ministry stipulates that by 2009 Jardiknas is to connect 1,489, or more or less 55 percent, of our higher education institutions, 27,297 schools, or approximately 9.3 percent of all schools, but that will include approximately more than 50 percent of the junior and senior secondary schools. And also give connection for 10,000, or approximately .3 percent of all teachers, and university instructors. This estimated average number of computers of 40 units per office in the Office zone, 300 units per higher education institution, 40 units per school, and one unit per person in the Personal Zone. Then it is expected that more than 1.43 million computers will be connected by 2009.
To serve 39,750 nodes, connections, and more than 1.43 million users, a good management organization, good organization management is required. Therefore, in addition to the central ICT management, every education office ICT center is handled by at least four officers, one as ICT center head; one as coordinator; one as technician; and one as address technician. For this reason it is therefore imperative for the ministry to guard, secure, and maintain the largest network in the country, with international standards of security, maintenance, and technical training.
With the capacity, or bandwidth of Jardiknas of 3.9 gigabits per second, and with the capacity of the center storage of 15 TB, terabyte, by 2009 Jardiknas will therefore be able to handle contents of 2 million models, in the form of text and graphs, of average 5 to 50 megabyte per model. However, if the contents are in the form of video, video has and of 30 minutes an average 200-megabyte per model, Jardiknas can handle about 50,000 models. As content provider, Jardiknas provides access for online transactions, and information transformations, clearing house for exams, online testing, e-books, e-Bursa, smart schools, digital library, research network, and video conference services for distance learning.
E-book is a part of textbook reform. And in this reform the ministry buys the intellectual property rights of textbooks, and then uploads the book. Anybody, or any institution is then allowed to download the e-book’s contents free of charge, and then copy them, print them, even publish them, and even trade them as long as the price is not exceeding the selling price determined by the ministry. And in the scheme textbook market prices are expected to reduce to only one-third of the prevailing market price.
E-bursa is a knowledge center where people at the university communities share knowledge better, fairer and trustworthier ways under e-bursa university students, instructors and visitors share teaching materials on a semi-commercial basis. There is also interactive content to prepare students for national examination (speaking a foreign language) and interactive program of math, English, and Bahasa. The program is also available in this format so that viewers in remote areas can follow the program.
In addition to judging us, the ministry offers 24-hour learning materials through its own TV broadcasts called TV-E, an abbreviation of TV Education. TV-E broadcasts through satellite to remote areas of Indonesia using satellite disk, national TV, local TV, and cable TV. Since 2006, the ministry has contributed to schools more than 67,000 TV units, more than 27,000 DVD players, and more than 70,000 satellite disks, and more than 1,600 generators for under-served areas where electricity is not available. In the 2008 Fiscal Year, another channel is dedicated for teachers, and is to be utilized to accelerate the updating of teacher qualifications and competence, and to facilitate certifications.
Ladies and gentlemen, in 2007, the ministry allocated a budget of $892.4 billion, or 2.03 percent of the ministry budget for ICT. In 2009, the number increased to $1.08 trillion, or 2.4 percent of the ministry budget. The biggest chunk of the appropriation goes to computer labs for schools. In order to improve ICT access to schools in more rural areas and remote islands, the ministry cooperates with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources in the effort to get extension of the electricity network to the areas, and also within the Ministry of ICT in extending ICT infrastructure to the areas, working under the scheme of public and private partnership to ease the government.
Ladies and gentlemen, this morning just before this meeting, I met with several of my coastal officials, and we have agreed on several things, among the agreement is that Microsoft is going to help us in providing intermittent ICT services for schools in the remote rural areas where many of them have no electricity connection.
Thank you very much (speaking a foreign language.) (Applause.)
ANOOP GUPTA: Thank you, Minister Sudibyo, and it’s actually very interesting where both from Minister Nuh’s talk, and Minister Sudibyo’s talk, both the challenges and the opportunities become so clear. You know, when you think of 293,000 schools, and 700 local dialects. So here is how we will have the rest of the session, and I’m really looking forward to a dialogue, because we have to say how do we share practices. We have three wonderful, distinguished panelists who I would like to invite now, Mr. Sheldon Shaeffer, who is Director of UNESCO Asia Pacific, please welcome him. (Applause.) Dr. Rom Hiranpruk, who is the Director, Office of Knowledge Management and Development in Thailand. (Applause.) And Professor Jun Murai, Vice President of Keio University. (Applause.)
The format we will follow is, each of the panelists will speak for roughly five minutes, and then we really look forward to around 20-25 minutes of discussion, Q&A, so please start thinking about what you would like to see discussed, certainly scale re very important because we see silos of success, how you scale to a very large number of populations; and, secondly, the topic of policy, what can policy and government really do that enhance the use of ICT be transformation in the education systems. We will start with Mr. Sheldon Shaeffer.
SHELDON SHAEFFER: Thank you very much. I’m very happy to be here this morning, once again, with this Global Leadership Forum. I would like to follow-up on something the Minister of National Education started talking about, which was education for all as one of the leading movements or paradigms of education in this region now. And many achievements have been made over the last decade or more in terms of the enrollment rates, the number of children who are in school across the region.
But I’m a kind of glass half empty kind of person. I like to look at challenges in addition to achievements. And I think a recent evaluation of where we stand on education for all has shown, in fact, that there are increasing disparities within the region, within countries, and between schools. There is an issue of exclusion, children who are unreached, adults who are unreached in terms of literacy. Children are excluded from schooling, they’re simply not sitting in a classroom at all, or they’re in a classroom but excluded from learning. They’re not really understanding what’s happening, and we’ve found more and more achievement results around the region indicating that children, in fact, stay in school, but are not learning what we hope they are learning.
Dr. Surin talked this morning about the issue of trying to make sure that children have knowledge, but also character. I’m afraid what’s happening in some parts of the region is that children are getting neither good character or knowledge as a result of the school system. Now, there are reasons for this. There are children who are extremely poor, coming from poor families, working children. There are learners who are in the middle of armed conflict, natural disaster, schools are meant to open in Myanmar June 1st, how many will not because of the cyclone there. Children of migrants and refugees, children affected by HIV/AIDS. I think we should look more carefully at how ICT can help these kinds of excluded children.
But perhaps more obviously, we have children with disabilities, and they can be helped through ICT, there are assistive devices of various kinds that we have worked with, voice recognition mechanisms. We had recently an intern from Japan in our office, a sight impaired person, who was trying to look at how our Web site could be made friendlier in terms of education. There are children living in remote and rural areas who can obviously be helped through various kinds of distance learning activities. There are linguistic minorities. There are fonts not yet developed for their alphabets. They represent languages and cultures which are dying, and ICT, in fact, can be useful in their revitalization and further development. There are issues of gender and sex, computers have been shown in cultures where girls perhaps are not very active in school computers can help empower them to learn and to be more effective.
The major point I think I’m trying to make here is that the need is to ensure that excluded groups and individuals, are, in fact, included in learning and, therefore, this kind of personalized learning by group and by individual that Craig Mundie talked about is very important, and ICT can help to do that.
Now, challenges of scaling up. Well, it’s hard to go, as we know, from projects, pilot projects, to programs. One problem is simply the lack of understanding often of policymakers that there is a problem. This whole issue of inclusive education, policymakers are often quite happy with a 95 percent enrollment rate, but are not terribly as much concerned as they might be with the 5 percent not enrolled. How do we reverse the focus to look at those who are not yet in school.
Sex discrimination within schools, gender discrimination, I’ve heard very often ministers and others saying, we don’t have a problem with gender, with girls in school, but in fact if you look more closely, one does. So a realization of the problem is the first step needed to go from a small project to a major program.
Capacity building, especially at lower levels of the system, the only way to actually have a long-term effect, and to make a project, a pilot, sustainable, of course, is to get it bought in by and usable by people at lower levels of the system. So capacity building is essential.
And, finally, let me just talk about this issue of policy. It seems to me, of course, this is the major prerequisite for trying to scale up an activity is to ensure that there is an effective ICT and education policy within a ministry of education. We did a survey several years ago when we started in UNESCO Bangkok our ICT and Education Program across 45 or more countries in the region. We found that a third had some kind of ICT and education policy, a third had perhaps a chapter or a paragraph on education in a broader ICT policy, and a third had nothing. So we’ve been trying to work with a policy maker’s tool kit to try to work with ministries of education to go through a situation analysis of where they currently stand in terms of using ICT in education, what is the vision, the goal, the objectives for the future, what kind of resources are available, capacity, what is needed, what strategies are important to try to achieve that vision. And a major focus of this whole exercise, we hope, as ministries go through this exercise, is to try to see in the development of an ICT and education policy how do we ensure that we’re thinking about including the excluded, and reaching the unreached.
I hope, in fact, that this session, and the Leadership Forum in general will be addressing this issue with a great deal of attention in the next two days. Thank you.
ANOOP GUPTA: Thank you, Sheldon.
ROM HIRANPRUK: Thank you very much. They are very serious issues we discuss today, but let me begin by telling you a very short joke. If it’s funny, you’re an IT person, and you must not be a Microsoft person. Tomorrow headlines in Jakarta, Indonesia, reads: Finally, Microsoft comes around to Java. (Laughter.) If it’s funny, you are an IT person, and we discuss it differently.
Well, seriously, I think from the previous speakers we heard a lot already about what it is that we are targeting into in terms of policies and other things. I think we heard very ambitious plans from the ministers of Indonesia. Let me quote, however, Einstein, “The only thing that stands in the way of my learning is my education.” That, I think, is the crux of what we are discussing here today. James Canton in his book “The Extreme Future” proposed that unless we change our attitudes about the education system, unless we accept that it is broken and needs to be reinvented, we will not go all out for what we are discussing here today.
So the issues become how can we massively collaborate in all sorts of activities that would allowing us to produce a better educational system, it may be e-learning, it may be e-commerce, e-government, so on. These activities need to be introduced quickly because we are running out of people to actually man the system. Mr. Gates himself said that we are running short of skilled manpower, knowledge workers, to run the IT environment of the world.
A second point that I would like to raise is, I think we heard from the Secretary General Surin issues about morality, ethics really. It’s not just knowledge. We talk about how do we combine in our learning system, in our education system, ICT can help knowledge as well as morality. Are we talking about games that teach morality? Are there such things? I don’t know. But it’s worth thinking about, simulation learning may be a way.
But I think one of Microsoft’s people asked me this question yesterday, and I think it’s worth thinking about, can we still live our present lifestyle into the future? Really, seriously, with all this global warming, and the situations that are happening all around the world in terms of energy, political security, the environment, health, and economic insecurities, what is it that we need to teach our next generation to cope with, and by what means?
So at least three points, but just to try to discuss what Anoop asked us, in Thailand, at least in the office that I come from, and I just realized that that’s why Microsoft asked me to be here, we do have the objective of creating the creative economy for Thailand. We use the word actually creative economy. We also have a center, of the seven centers that I ran, a unit called Moral Center. So I suppose that Microsoft thought that this has something to do with what we discuss here today. But previously in my work with the Ministry of Science, and in my working in trying to create the knowledge society of Thailand, we found that the e-core system for creating the learning environment is not there yet. I use the word “e-core system” in the sense that we talk about intellectual properties, national repository, a national pool of resources for multimedia productions, content that make it possible for e-learning to be created and shared in a proper way. We also lack the proper management of learning, seriously.
I think in Indonesia there’s a very ambitious plan also to try to share e-learning contents among universities, we don’t have that yet in Thailand. We also have difficulties with training of new teachers, because they are the ones who will come up with the idea of developing many of these tools that we’ll be using in the future, and for existing teachers we also run out of incentives for them to do the job.
With that, I think I’ll wait for the next speaker. Thank you.
ANOOP GUPTA: Thank you. Professor Jun.
JUN MURAI: Hello, everyone. Let me start with kind of a background of why I’m sitting here. Two things, basically I came from a computer science field, and then also I’m deeply involved in the design and operation of the existing global Internet, especially in this region. So connecting all the Southeast Asian countries was my happiness, so I’ve been doing that. And then, running the distance education environment called School on the Internet, it’s overlaying the university cross-sharing. We are planting things on top of the existing universities, including several of the very strong Indonesian universities. So I say overlay, because it’s very important that in the cyberspace there is an existing autonomous university’s activities everywhere, which should stay strong, independent, and diverse, but still it’s very good to share the university classes among the universities in the region especially. So that’s basically it. Keio University has the contract with 14 countries in Southeast Asia to share the university classes.
Given that background, let me start with three points regarding the scale as it was raised. The first one is, in a technology sense, I can say it in many ways, but let me say wired versus unwired, because that’s one of the key issues. The wired remember, Wired Magazine was a kind of fashion in the year 2000, right, but wired means connected, reaching to the Internet, but now it’s unwired, with wireless everywhere, including the kind of convergence with broadcasting, digital broadcasting together with cable, and that kind of thing. So the technical issues to cover the region, a kind of extending to each of the people then from a technical point of view, the unwired the wireless use of the sophisticated use of the wireless communication technologies is really important.
And the second point is service, so services are basically I should say infrastructure versus applications. Distance education for the education field, that could be in two ways in this sense. This is a very good technology, software and services you should use in the educational stages, that’s basically the application approach, but the infrastructure approach is, many people talking about creativity, then each of the universities, each of the teachers, each of the students when they have a creative mind, and they’re developing things, then the services have to be a kind of infrastructure, or platform, so that the creative people in the schools and the universities can create their own way, or software, or services, on top of it. So that’s basically an infrastructure way of a developing of the services. So that’s the second point.
The third point, and the last point is, policy things and I should say a top down process. From my experience, the important thing government support is really important. This is a Government Leaders Forum. And the government support is really important, but when we use government funding for the educational environment it’s a certain limited time period. Then if the money goes, I mean three years, for example, three years gone, then there’s nothing left, and it’s stopped. This is very much seen, in this region especially. So the important thing is the sustainability of that kind of environment, once it is funded by the government, and Microsoft, or whatever, it has to be continued. In order to do that then, again, the autonomous efforts, and the strengths of the people in each of the schools, each of the universities will be really important.
So that’s basically the three points, technology, service, and the policy. Thank you.
ANOOP GUPTA: Thank you Professor Murai. There was some great remarks made by the panelists around whether disparity is decreasing or increasing, and really increasing as Sheldon said, and how do we think about inclusion, a lot of points around scaling and capacity building, sustainability, how do we maintain, a lot of points around content, and policy, and bottoms-up, and sustainable policy that got made. What I’d like to do actually is really open it up for questions. So we’ve had some great remarks from the ministers, some great remarks from the panelists, and I think the value of GLF really is in the dialogue that we can create, so let’s start with that dialogue, and then we can carry it into our lunch sessions, and tomorrow’s sessions, but let’s look at the beginning of the dialogue.
Anybody with questions, please raise your hand and there are people with microphones who will come to you. Don’t feel shy. Please. Actually, can we raise the lights in the room, I think that will be good, so we can see the people asking questions.
QUESTION: I’m Tissa Vitarana, the Minister of Science and Technology from Sri Lanka. The problem here is that we can go for ideal solutions, we are all, most of us, from poor countries, limited resources, trying to balance a number of demands, economic demands, and we have to work out solutions progressively, which will benefit our students, and our people, because education is something that is affecting that process, as we all know. And they need to keep up with new knowledge, with new developments, and be critical in solving problems.
Now, to do this in our school system, just to give you an example, in Sri Lanka, because of the limited funding issue, and resources, when computerization was started we had roughly about 10,000 schools. We have a free education system. We had to start not from the bottom, and work up, but with the thousand biggest schools in that whole system, and in those schools it was all level A-11 that the computer laboratories were set up, because we wanted to get computer literate people coming out as quickly as possible, and be able to develop, or exploit business outsourcing, and other job opportunities, because we have a problem of educated youth unemployment, which has caused a lot of problems, political problems, in our country.
To meet this we had to take that course of action, which is I mean, as educationists, everyone would say the wrong approach. But, what we have been struggling for is basic computing, which would be affordable, which we can give all the schools, make all the children access it. To my knowledge, that is not yet really available. Shouldn’t we have, not only for our region, for the world in general, affordable basic computing. We don’t want the high-flying things that are being sold, and peddled by the marketers. How do we get that, because everything else that we are talking about depends on a computer being accessed, and how do we get those computers accessed. So I think that is one key question.
Now when you talk of knowledge, as we know, if you have the computers, if you have the Internet connectivity, then you can access the knowledge. So getting knowledge to our children, to our people, can be done once we have that. Now, the question there is critical faculties to be developed, ethics to be developed. So we have to have a type of, shall we say, emphasis laid into that system. And when you talk of computer games, and all these things, we are talking of ethics, trying to fit into society. But, what is the basis of most of those games is violence, killing, shooting. Is that going to generate the type of ethics that we want for our people, our children?
So I think these are some of the issues that we need to address. If we have to access technology, we have to utilize technology, and in utilizing technology we have to be selective, and make sure that we get the benefits to the software that will benefit our people in every way, to develop rounded citizens who will contribute the maximum to the development of our countries.
ANOOP GUPTA: Thank you very much for the question. (Applause.) Clearly it was resonating with a lot of the audience, so let me try and summarize it, and then I’ll ask our panelists. One is about in sort of the current devices how do we think about more affordable, lower complexity, what might be unique devices that can be more pervasive. And the second is about the kind of content, curriculum that teaches the important skills, but is also compatible with the ethics, and the morals, that we might want to have as a society. Who would like to go, Sheldon?
SHELDON SHAEFFER: I think my more technical colleagues might have something to say about the basic computer you spoke of. I think there are around the world a number of different projects that are in place with a lot of pilot testing, even in Thailand at the moment, of inexpensive, one-laptop kinds of projects. I think we’re, at UNESCO, trying to look across those experiments and pilots to try to get a neutral sense of how they work or how they don’t work, and what are the perhaps unanticipated consequences we have to think of.
Getting to your second point, I think one could imagine, if you will, the first generation of content looking at sort of knowledge itself, facts and information, the second more on critical thinking, and I think there has been a lot of development in terms of content, software, with computers to do that. The third generation, which I think Dr. Rom also referred to is this issue of morality and ethics. And I think that’s where the curriculum developers have not, in fact, focused much attention at all. And marrying the techniques they have with the concerns that the ethicists have I think is still very important.
We’re working with Microsoft on a pre-service teacher education program in several countries, and I think that’s where we have to look at the essential technical skills that graduating teachers have to have, but also the kind of curriculum skills, and the adaptation of the computer to some of these moral and ethical outcomes.
I think this takes me back to the point I made about ministries having to have a systematic policy in mind that they’ve worked through carefully, dealing with content, and infrastructure, and facilities, so that they actually know, even in a relatively poor context, where they want to go and what is feasible to get to. I think Sri Lanka has done better at that, in fact, than many other countries.
ROM HIRANPRUK: May I ask on the content side, I think it’s critical that you need content first, otherwise you will have you end up with a laptop per child with nothing on it but games. For content needs we use standards like SCORE, which actually have to be applied throughout.
The experience in Thailand, however, in 2003 when we tried to do our own low cost assembly of low-cost PCs, turned out to be quite disastrous. The machine cost 10,000 baht, it lasts only a year, because it’s not very high quality, it’s not upgradeable.
Secondly, there’s no content at that time, because we were not actually fully aware of the need for content, and the fact that content takes a long time to actually produce in a way that’s suitable for use, and also the training of the teachers, and the children. It also destroyed all our small assemblers of computers, because of the low cost it ran them out of business, only the large ones survived.
Especially it increases software piracy, because people have to find things to put into Microsoft, as in that it runs that. It was supposed to be all open source software. It turns out that 95 percent of those Linux-based machines were actually downloaded with pirated versions of Microsoft later.
So the impact can be quite different from what you intended. All these four points I mentioned doesn’t mean that we stopped doing it. We need to think more seriously, and more carefully, with better planning. I think it’s very true that planning without action is a tragedy, but action without planning is a disaster really.
JUN MURAI: I have three comments. First of all, it’s always ethics, information, but we cannot separate our kids away from the technology and the information, in the words. So that’s what we have to work on. The second point is, resources you were talking about, I see in this region a lot of resources, computer resources around, donated in many, many ways. But, many of them are unused. So the efficient use of those resources, and the redistribution of those resources can be very important. So the transparent evaluation of those things is one of the key issues.
The last point is that, still I think the development in the region is really important role of the universities in the region. So university students, university professors, they have in various sections of the intelligence to evaluate their economic policies, and the technology as well, and the students should work for the future of the society. So I think a university network, in the broader meaning, is going to be necessary.
ANOOP GUPTA: Thanks for sharing your insight. Let me just add 30 seconds before we move on, on the device side, I think it’s actually a wonderful time. There is immense creativity that is going on. If you look at the class of devices that is called ultra-low cost PCs, like the Acer Eee which are coming at a low cost, that category was essentially zero units shipped last year, to something on the order of between 10 to 20 million in the year 2008. There is lots creativity. There’s Phone Plus, you know, PC down you’re seeing lots of creativity, phone up there’s lots of creativity. And I think the market will surprise us with the creativity of devices and innovation that we’ll see, because people are seeing the need.
Let’s go to another question. I think the gentleman out there who has been holding his hand for a while.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think everybody, everyone, we all agree that education is very important. But, the problem is how we can help them. As I mentioned before, for the first question about how we can get affordable PC, in the case of Indonesia, for example, we have the PC penetration now it’s about 8 million, but we have the population of more than 240 million. So this means there is a need for more computes to be used, not only by students, but also for the society. This means that if we would like to increase the capabilities, that we should have a low cost computer, as you said before.
Maybe you can also inform us about when the program of one laptop per child, which is the low cost laptop produced by MIT, we call it the green laptop. How is the laptop now, is it still certified, or how can we get involved in this program in order to increase the capability connected to the Internet facilities. So this means that the hardware is very important, the hardware of the computer, the network facility, and also the broadband communication, if we would like to connect it to the student in the remote areas. Also, in terms of software, maybe Microsoft can reduce the price of the software, so we can use the cheapest software, and good quality software, with a low price.
In terms of the content, the data that can be accessed by the student, it means that we have to also provide the data that is suitable for them. And also of course, this one is related also to the human resources, not only students, but also the teachers, how we can improve the knowledge of the teachers in order to achieve the goal of education.
Thank you very much.
ANOOP GUPTA: Thank you.
JUN MURAI: Okay. Let me start with the technical part. I mean, the inexpensive computer for everyone. So this is certainly I think within reach of the concept, because now the computer itself is drastically changing from the single computer, versus connected computer things. Most of the software and services are on the network side, rather than residing in your computer, even your data is on the network side.
So we can progress this issue in two ways. One way is distributing the computers as we did in the past. But, now we can do it another way that we’re going to work on the network availability to everywhere, and then on the computer. Then a drastically expensive computer, they don’t have enough hard disk, but they have network connectivity, therefore the services are equal now. So I think we have a big hope in that area.
ROM HIRANPRUK: If I may, the costs for that are green, they look green. It’s a very nice machine. It’s about $150 now. So it’s much better than before, but it’s still not below $100 U.S. I think precisely what Dr. Murai was saying, I think you have to go for something more affordable, and they may be. It doesn’t have to be a PC style, it could be learning via your mobile phones, which have now very powerful processors, and can do many, many things akin to game playing that could be made more usable especially in rural areas. Because right now I think, at least in Thailand, the coverage for mobile phones is much better than our Internet coverage. So you have to think of alternatives, I think.
ANOOP GUPTA: Sheldon.
MUHAMMAD NUH: I can just think of two things. One, to add to that, I think the issue, as I mentioned earlier, of not rushing headlong into one particular approach, or one particular system, but given the rapid evolution of what’s happening in terms of hardware, and these kinds of smaller, inexpensive computers, and the cell phone, and many other things from a ministry point of view, looking carefully at the variety of options, and the particular context and needs that one has, and then moving in that direction.
Just a word on teachers, as I mentioned earlier, the idea of really looking systematically at pre-service teacher education, how do we ensure that graduating teachers have learned the essential skills they need when they get into school, in terms of ICT, but also perhaps anticipating a few years down the line what they will need, that will be different for every country, and how one changes the curriculum of a teacher education system also will differ per country. So one has to look carefully as to what are the levers that one uses to reform a teacher education system pre-service as well as in-service to put more ICT skills in it, and then how do you actually ensure that those skills are taught, curriculum development within the teacher education institution, training of lecturers so that they know what they’re actually doing. If one doesn’t do that, one is always catching up in in-service training, which I think is more expensive very often, and not as satisfactory as a solid grounding during pre-service experience.
ANOOP GUPTA: Let me answer a couple. Actually, firstly, I found your question actually really enlightening, because you started with one, and as you kept adding more questions to it, and that really reflects the philosophy that we have to take a really holistic look. When we think about ICT and education, it’s not about just the device, it’s not just about the content, it’s not just about the teachers, it’s how do you bring all of these pieces together in a systematic way, eventually to have the impact that all of us desire for the children in our countries, and communities.
The devices, there are a lot of interesting things happening. And, again, even for the devices, it’s not just about the technology, it’s about the technology combined with the business models. Today most of the mobile phones that we carry, both the computing power and the cost is similar to these ultra low-cost PCs being designed. But we can afford the phones because of the subscription model associated with the phones, you know, rather than the pay-up-front model that is associated with the PCs. You can go and transform that model, and suddenly everything becomes more affordable. If you start looking at the connectivity, which is important, as Professor Murai was saying, and the telecom operators, and the subscription combined together, suddenly you get two birds with one stone, if you link that to the education of the teachers.
So my main meta point is actually something that we have realized at Microsoft working with all of you in partnerships is the holistic approach, and the importance of that holistic approach that we need to attain success in transforming education.
What the clock tells me is, we are one-and-a-half minutes over the session time, so I would like to thank the ministers. I would like to thank our panelists. I would like to thank all of you for your questions and your participation, and your attendance here. And I look forward to the next one-and-a-half days as times of ongoing dialogue that we have together, and, in fact, when we go back to our countries, to our ministries, I hope we will exchange information, e-mails, and continue this dialogue. So thank you very much, and I’m going to close the session. (Applause.)