Navigating ICT4E Projects in Low-Resource Settings
By 2020, it’s estimated that 2.6 billion people will have smartphones, and 56 percent will have internet access. Today, the question is no longer whether information and communications technology (ICT) has a role to play in education, but rather how ICT-driven interventions can be most useful and effective in improving learning and facilitating positive educational outcomes.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for using ICT for education (ICT4E). Making informed decisions about ICT4E can be challenging in the absence of a robust and rigorous body of evidence and limited analytical work that compares the various technologies against each other or with non-technology supported interventions.
As one of the largest bilateral supporters of ICT4E, USAID has been committed to promoting evidence-based practices and has invested in research and innovation to grow the knowledge base for ICT4E.
USAID’s ICT4E How-To Note provides a snapshot into this knowledge base with an extensive list of available ICT4E programmatic resources. Here are three ways you can navigate the ICT4E How-To Note.
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1. By Program Design and Implementation Challenge
The How-To Note identified ten common challenges program staff face in the design and implementation of ICT4E interventions. These challenges ranged from broader ones, like sustainability and scalability of ICT4E interventions, to those that were more focused, like a limited number of trained teachers and gender disparities in ICT4E.
For each challenge, the document offers program implementers a list of potential opportunities for informed ICT4E investments. The opportunities, in the form of resources, tools, evaluations, and program experiences, are intended to direct the user to additional information where they can learn how to overcome the challenges.
As an example, one of the challenges identified was the negative effect of high youth unemployment and lack of skills to contribute to the local economy. Several resources were highlighted to demonstrate how access to digital literacy skills development can contribute to improving employment prospects for youth. These include a summary of USAID-funded youth and digital projects from 2018 and a case study example in Mali of the PAJE-Nièta project that provided rural, out-of-school youth with improved basic education, technical training, and leadership development via a mobile app. A report on that project indicated that 82 percent of youth who completed the technical training and received the project’s income-generating activity starter kit were self-employed and on their way to being able to provide for their families.
Three Ps of ICT4E: Principles, Partnerships, and Programs
2. By Program Cycle Stage
The How-To Note provides step-by-step guidance on how to integrate ICT4E across each of the four stages of the USAID program cycle. An extensive list of resources and tools are provided for each step and sub-step.
- Strategic Planning (Country and Regional)
- Project Design and Implementation
- Activity Design and Implementation
- Monitoring and Evaluation
The resources that have been extracted to align with each step are diverse in nature and include evaluation and research reports, toolkits, indicator handbooks, policy, and guidance documents.
3. By Research, Tools, and Program Examples
Another way you can access the ICT4E resources in the How-To Note is to explore the two tables and four Annexes within the document, which are broken down by resource type
Tables: The first is a list of ICT4E evaluations, research, and evidence. Examples of resources include mEducation Alliance - Evidence Showcase, Synthesis of Findings and Lessons Learned from USAID-Funded Evaluations: Education Sector 2013–2016, and Bridging the gender gap: Mobile access and usage in low and middle-income countries
The second table is a collection of tools and repositories such as the Checklist for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) Interventions to Support Education in Crisis and Conflict Settings (2018) and the Global Digital Library.
Annexes: The How to Note has four annexes that also provide a compilation of valuable real-world examples.
- Annex A. Examples of USAID ICT4E Interventions
- Annex B. 2018 USAID ICT4E Highlights of Digital Literacy Activities
- Annex C. Examples of how ICT4E is Integrated into Solicitations
- Annex D. Sample ICT4E Learning Agenda Questions