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Summary of the project

The main research question asked by PanAf Phase 2 (2009-2011) is: "How, for whom and under what circumstances can the pedagogical integration of ICTs substantially improve the quality of teaching and learning at all levels and scales of African education systems?"

At the second World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, November 2005), Kofi Annan reminded us that we are living in a world of rapid change where technologies play a multitude of roles. How we tap technologies' potential will shape our future together; we cannot remain indifferent to this enormous metamorphosis.

Through IDRC's Acacia programme, the PanAfrican Research Agenda on the Pedagogical Integration of ICTs (PanAf) contributes to the development of African countries and people by increasing knowledge of the pedagogical integration of ICTs in African schools and education systems.

Acknowledging that education is fundamental to socio-economic development, the PanAf network shares an unprecedented open-access dataset via this Observatory, produces policy and practice oriented publications, and works to improve research capacity in participating institutions.

Greater knowledge of the realities of teaching and learning with ICTs in African education institutions will enhance their contribution to national and international socio‐economic development. In today's globalized world, ICTs are necessary tools for learners within these institutions, and their use is a compulsory skill for participation in the global knowledge society.

With Phase 1 (2007-2009), the PanAf network succeeded both in collecting an unprecedented depth of data on ICTs in African schools, and in developing exceptional international partnerships with the World Bank and UNESCO. The schools described in the Phase 1 research represent nearly 245 000 learners and 9000 educators, and paint a never-before-seen portrait of the pedagogical integration of ICTs across Africa.

Substantive analysis of this new knowledge remains, in order to draw out empirically supported conclusions and recommendations. Improvement in education outcomes, through policy decision‐making and teacher‐training, must stand on a solid empirical base of evidence – data rigorously and meticulously collected and analyzed. After collecting an exceptional quantity and quality of data in Phase 1, PanAf Phase 2 will provide such an opportunity for African researchers to formulate these recommendations for policy and practice.

The PanAf network represents the first continent-wide description of leading "ICT in education" practice, and has been widely and internationally recognized for its boldness and innovation in terms of data collection, sharing, and capacity building. You are encouraged to read the Phase 2 proposal where these innovations continue in terms of analysis and implementation of research results. ICTs themselves do not necessarily have an impact on learners' cognitive capacity, and no matter how powerful the technologies, they serve educational outcomes little without the guidance of educators. Hence, PanAf Phase 2's research has a responsibility to identify best practices in the pedagogical integration of ICTs, and to support the improvement of teaching and learning in African schools - a development issue of the greatest importance.

Regarding the future evolution of the PanAf project, it would be regrettable for all the data collected under the 2007 PanAf project to be supplanted by more recent data, because they provide a rich source of information on a historical period when ICT were being introduced into African education systems. Second, the idea is not to update the Observatory data by replacing them; it would be more useful to continue accumulating recent data alongside previously collected data. Frequent additions of newly collected data according to the same indicators constitutes a relevant scientific approach, as it allows comparing the pedagogical integration of ICT over time and across diverse geographic situations, such as the 13 countries that participated in the PanAf project. In other words, by accumulating data sets across different timeframes, we can open up opportunities for longitudinal studies. This would increase the relevance and richness of the data on the ICT Observatory by allowing geographic and temporal comparisons.

Accordingly, future developments of the PanAf project will include regular collections of new data to be added to the ICT Observatory.

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