Research shows wide digital divide in South Pacific

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Research into the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education in the countries of the South Pacific shows that up to 17 per cent of the Pacific population enjoys Internet access although access to ICT in primary schools averages one per cent, with tertiary-level urban access rates as high as 70%.

The research, done by The Pacific e-Learning Observatory at the University of the South Pacific, surveyed 60 ICT and education experts across the region to assess their opinions on ICT in education. The survey showed that training and capacity building, curriculum development, infrastructure, policy planning and top-down government support are perceived as the most important factors in ICT development. Current initiatives in the region range from early-stage policy formulation and the construction of ICT centres for rural communities, to the construction of databases and online portals to support educational administration and the delivery of learning materials. The research concludes that in spite of the challenges to improving ICT access in education in the Pacific, the importance of the Internet in education is widely acknowledged as a priority by learners and policy decision-makers alike, and education institutions can use the kind of information gathered in this survey as part of a strategy for providing improved education services in the region.

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