Spotlight on Jordan

According to Michael Trucano from the World Bank, Jordan is one of a handful of countries to watch. “Efforts have been made in numerous countries to replicate and adapt the model behind the innovative public-private partnership driving the forward-looking Jordan Education Initiative, perhaps the highest profile initiative of its kind among developing countries – and one of the better evaluated ones”.

Not surprising then to see the Jordan Education Initiative winning a UNSECO prize for excellence in the use of ICT in education in 2009.

But what exactly is the Jordan Education Initiative and what can we learn from it?

The Jordan Education Initiative (JEI) is one of several education initiatives run by the World Economic Forum, others being the Egyptian Palestinian and Rajasthan Education initiatives.

The Queen Rania Education Technology Centre from which the JEI is run

The JEI has the following objectives:

  • Improve the development and delivery of education to Jordan’s citizens through public-private partnerships
  • Help the government of Jordan achieve its vision for education as a catalyst for social and economic development
  • Accelerate of educational reforms in developing countries by unleashing the innovation of teachers and students through the effective use of ICT
  • Build the capacity of the local information technology industry in partnership with world class firms
  • Build a model of reform that can be exported to and replicated in other countries.

The JEI has 17 global corporations, 17 Jordanian entities, and 11 governmental and non-governmental organizations all working together to achieve these objectives, in partnership with the Government of Jordan. Commercial partners include Micrsoft, Intel, Cisco, HP, TribaliEARN and World Links.  

This PPP enabled JEI to improve learning for 80,000 students, via 3200 teachers in 100 “Discovery Schools”. Each Discovery School is fully networked; Internet connected and has access to computer labs and online content.

Jordan participated in PISA for the first time in 2006, and found that scores for Maths, Science and Reading were higher in the “Discovery Schools”.  Whilst these differences could potentially be caused by other factors, it’s reasonable to conclude that the initiative is having an overall positive effect.   

JEI Organisation chart

Key learning from the JEI includes:

  • Never lose focus on education
  • Ensure the technology is scalable
  • PPP is the backbone with clear roles and responsibilities for each partner
  • Strong governance and organizational structure
  • Correct scale of program
  • Monitoring and impact assessment is critical
  • Communication and PR plays a role
  • Change management vs. training
  • Continuity

(The World Economic Forum)

McKinsey and Company published an analysis of the JEI in 2005, and concluded that effective global-local, public-private partnerships should have the following key elements:

  • Clear vision and objectives, powerfully articulated in appropriate forums
  • Attractive governmental, social and geo-strategic conditions
  • Motivated partners, whose interests are aligned with initiative, providing sufficient inputs
  • Programme activities that leverage appropriate partner competences
  • Well-supported coordinating mechanisms
  • Consistent monitoring and evaluation
  • Effective governance to set strategic direction and align partners.

(McKinsey & Company, 2005)

Further information:

Jordan Education Initiative homepage

Discovery Schools Network using Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet

Microsoft support for ”New Schools Attitude”

Spotlight on Hungary

With a multiple award winning e-Learning platform and a strong, integrated set of ICT initiatives, Hungary is a country to watch and learn from.   

The Hungarian Government decided to invest in ICT after a disappointing PISA study showed that they were far behind international standards for providing work-place skills to students.  This lead to several initiatives, the most noteworthy of which is the SULINET Digital Knowledge base – an e-Learning platform which has achieved a wide range of accolades across Europe including:

The design goal was to make high quality learning content available that completely covered the curriculum at all stages of schooling across Hungary.

In 1996, Educatio – a ministry backed agency – developed SULINET with backing from Microsoft.  It now has over 1million learning objects in a wide variety of content types – classroom-ready handouts, diagrams, animations, lecture drafts, films and databases. Crucially, documents can also be edited by teachers to ensure that content remains up to date and relevant.

The user experience starts with a great interface:

From there, specific subject content can be easily located and used:

Collaboration on learning projects is made possible through “presence” and communication tools:



Publishers or teachers create the content with a Windows based Learning Object (LO) creator tool, or via a browser, and load it into the National LO Content Management Server.

Whilst other e-Learning systems simply serve up learning objects for users to consume, SULINET enables users to blend learning assets to form sophisticated learning objects. This allows for a much more constructivist approach.


For the content, there were three different calls:

  • A first call was for school book publishers to take the standard curriculum text books and turn them into interactive and multimedia learning tools.
  • A second call was for cross-curricular modules, newly introduced and any subjects that were not covered by the first call.
  • A third call was for additional teaching materials and media collections. Schools and institutions could contribute with self-made materials or they could open their existing digital content collections.

From September 2006 individual users could upload learning resources to their private users’ sites.

The content types available in the system are:

  • Reusable learning assets: the smallest, independently existing building blocks. These can be texts, pictures, sounds, animations, simulations, movie clips or tasks. They are reusable, because they can be combined with other assets to form unique combinations – learning objects.  
  • Learning objects: these are compiled from the learning asset building blocks, from the highest level subjects down to the lowest level learning units. These include experiments and tasks, for example.
  • Collections: sound, picture, video or test collections sourced from different national archives, such as the Hungarian News Agency (MTI) and the National Audiovisual Archive (NAVA).

The assets, objects and collections are stored in a central database, where they are classified and tagged. Underpinning this is the use of set of international standards – SCORM, IMS, LOM, and Dublin Core.

The system was developed in .NET and key technologies include: SQL (database); SharePoint; Visual Studio.NET

The knowledge base is available for everyone on the site and its use for nonprofit public educational goals is free of charge.

The challenge now is for the Hungarian Ministry of Education to drive up usage amongst teachers, through teacher training campaigns, roadshows, and marketing activities.


SULINET is part of an integrated package of ICT initiatives that includes:


35,000 out of the 62,000 classrooms in Hungary are equipped with interactive whiteboards, projectors and a set of 32 computers. These will come with classroom response systems and voting tools. The feedback of these IWBs showed that 70% of teachers found them very useful when teaching a class. To read more, click here.

Notebook computers

To add to the current stock levels, Intel have started to deploy their Classmate PCs into the market, starting with 3000. A further 2000 netbooks were also made available by the government through the Intelligent Schools Program.

 Teacher training

As part of the Microsoft Innovative Schools Program, 80,000 teachers were trained. The courses ensured that teachers were getting the most out of digital content, electronic administration and tutoring through IM.

Internet access

The quality of internet access in schools continues to improve, and broadband connections are now being pushed into primary schools.


Thinking about implementing a SULINET type solution in your country? Here are some points to consider:

Who’s the principle audience – teachers, students, parents?

Who can publish – teachers, students, parents?

What incentives are there to encourage contributions?

How will Quality Assurance work?

What about peer review/rating systems?

Should all contributors be allowed to:

  • Create a SCO
  • Publish a SCO
  • Edit a SCO
  • Keep own created SCO’s by themselves without sharing?

How do you foresee the logical grouping working?

  • National level admin and users
  • District or conglomerate of schools admin and users
  • Individual School admin and users
  • Grade level admins and users (Eg Year 10)
  • Subject level admins and users (Eg Maths)

Who is the legal owner of a SCO – teacher, school, and district?

How do you manage digital rights?


  • To read a report about the original goals of SULINET, click here.
  • The next challenge for SULINET is to drive up usage of teachers and students by incorporating social networking into the portal. They have started to make use of forums for students and teachers to come together and discuss.
  • SULINET have also organized a variety of events since it’s conception in 1996, including:
  • SULINET Adventure Tour– competition amongst students involving theoretical and practical exercises.
    SULINETwork- A large conference held annually to update teachers on the latest functions on SDT 
  • To read more about SULINET, click here.
  • To read more on the current policies and programs in Hungarian public education, click here.
  • To review a full Insight report on Hungary click here

Spotlight on Portugal

Whilst the Portuguese economy struggles, the country has recently had something to smile about – increases its international ranking in the latest PISA tables of educational performance.

Whilst any education improvement comes from sustained and integrated initiatives, it’s interesting to see that a major part of the effort to improve results focused on the use of ICT in schooling. A €1.5 billion investment has put 1.3m internet connected PCs in the hands of students and teachers across Portugal. Recent surveys have shown that 98 per cent of pupils say they are using computers and 78% of Portuguese children had access to the internet – a major improvement form 2005 when only 31% of households used the internet.

As you’d expect with a project of this scale, there are a number of moving parts. Firstly, the e-escola scheme is providing every secondary student with access to a laptop and broadband. “E-kindergarten”, is an equivalent project for primary students. At the same time, the “e-teacher” scheme is providing all school teachers with laptops and training.

These schemes are executed through the e-scolinha programme. This in turn is funded by Foundation for Mobile Communications – a consortium that includes Vodafone Portugal, Portugal Telecom and Optimus (Orange). Some of the funding comes from cellular network licence tariffs, and student’s families contribute also according to their means.

Overall 40% has come from the secondary student’s families (laptops are free for primary school children); the mobile companies contributed another 40% from cellular network licence tariffs; and the government contributed 20 per cent.

Secondary students can purchase mid-high spec notebooks, whilst primary school children use locally produced Magalhães (“each child an explorer”) hardware based on the Intel Classmate made available under the Magellan initiative. Click here to see how Magellan PCs are helping primary students in rural areas.

The cost to secondary student’s families can vary from €20 to €50 a month depending upon income, and the initial cost of the laptops was €150. For those on the lowest incomes it is free.

Microsoft has been a key partner in this project, along with Intel and other major technology players – both local and multinational. To support this initiative Microsoft delivered a “Learning Suite“, knowledge-transfer, and training to teachers, ensuring that users could use Windows 7 and Office 2010. Click on these links for more information on Micrsoft’s involvement e-escola and e.escolinha.

Portugal has proved that its possible to deploy a 1:1 programme across an entire country. The key ingredients have been:

  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Cross-Ministry collaboration (the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunication provided the impetus for this initiative)
  • Inclusiveness – making sure that teachers were on-board, trained and equipped.

For more information, click on these links:

(Thanks to Adelaide Franco and Erik Goldenberg for contributions)


Brazil – Moving Towards World Class Education


I had never considered air conditioning such an important classroom technology until I visited Escola Municipal Engenheiro Gastão Rangel in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. The sweltering heat, sparseness of the facilities, 30 teachers between 1000 students and overcrowded classrooms make this a brutal and challenging environment to teach and learn in. Within these tough conditions, however, are clear signs of deep and meaningful progress.


On the stage of the small assembly hall of the school stands Rafael Parente – a rare example of an Education Technology visionary who can actually “walk the talk”. Rafael works as Deputy Chancellor in charge of strategic projects in Rio’s Municipal Department of Education, where he developed Educopedia – a portal for lessons and content. Educopedia has 32 digital lessons for each curriculum area – one lesson for each week of the year – and provides opportunities for teacher-lead and independent learning. The Rio MoE are now in the midst of acquiring 100k netbooks for students’ use, and projectors, speakers and Wi-Fi connections in more than 400 classrooms so that Educopedia’s lessons can be projected by teachers.

The first phase of the Educopedia project took place with a large group of pilot schools between September and December 2010, and the feedback was very positive. The task for Rafael now is to win over the teachers in all of Rio’s schools. This means visiting as many schools as he possibly can to directly persuade the teachers to use Educopedia in their lessons. As in most Brazilian public schools, air conditioning, electricity, security and connectivity are all high priorities, so Rafael’s task is far from easy.  

What’s happening in Rio is indicative of what is happening across Brazil. There are an increasing number of pockets of innovation across the country, fueled by a growing acceptance for the need to modernize, and sustained support for ICT from the Federal and State Governments.

Brazil’s schooling system has benefited from sustained Government education reform over the past 15 years. According to “Achieving World Class Education in Brazil”, published by the World Bank in December 2010, the 2009 PISA results show substantial progress in education in Brazil. For example, since 2000 students have effectively gained a full academic year of Maths mastery. A key contributory factor to this progress is the increased use of data. A comprehensive index of school performance called IDEB (Indice de Desenvolvimento da Educacao Basica) is now used across the country. With an IDEB score for all but the smallest of Brazil’s 175,000 primary and secondary schools, 5,000-plus municipal school systems, 26 state systems and the federal district systems – every single segment of the Brazilian education system can benchmark how well its students are learning and how efficiently its school or school system is performing. Few other large federal countries in the world have achieved this.

However, Brazil still trails the OECD PISA average so there are no grounds for complacency. In order to sustain progress, Brazil needs to modernize further still – and with 50m in education, modernizing Brazil’s schooling system represents one of the biggest education challenges on the planet.

Taking a direct and comprehensive approach to modernising Brazilian public schools is Planeta Educacao – the education arm of Vitae Futurekids. With 900 staff and headquarters in Sao Paulo, Planeta Educacao recognizes the interconnectedness of everything in schooling systems. Roberta Bento, Vice President, Planeta Educação is a passionate believer in Brazil’s public schools – “Our programmes comprise a series of effective actions that involve students, directors, technicians, teachers and parents, promoting real changes in education. Our goal is the improvement in the performance of the student”. To that end, Planeta Educacao supply a total and integrated set of schooling services – infrastructure, technology (including products such as Office for Kids), programs and learning systems.

Other challenges that Brazil face are extreme distances and difficult-to-reach towns and villages. However, the Roberto Marinho Foundation – partners in the Educopedia project – has educated more than five million young people through high quality courses delivered through a combination of the television network, excellent books and trained teachers. Through the Telecurso project teachers were able to use satellite technology to interact with classrooms in the Amazon Forest.

In Pernambuco – in the north-east of the country – a network of schools called Procentro initiated in 2001 by Marcos Magalhães, president of electronics firm, Philips do Brasil, is proving that Public Private Partnerships can work in Brazil. Procentro has an annual dropout rate of 2%, much lower than the 17%  average for Pernambuco’s regular state schools. Click here for details.  

To underline the growing importance of ICT in the Brazilian Schooling System, Brazil has developed its own version of BETT. This year, Interdidatica will attract approximately 15k people to its tradeshow and 2.5k paying customers to its forum.

This year the theme of Interdidatica is “Innovation” – totally appropriate in a country with a strong tradition of engineering and innovation, e.g. aerospace giant Embraer. According to the World Bank, literally thousands of creative new programs and policies are being tried out at this moment across Brazil by dynamic, results-oriented secretaries of education. Few other countries in the world have the scale, scope and creativity of policy action that can be seen today in Brazil.

An inspiring example of innovation is Nave in Rio – a new high tech high school built out of a PPP between a Oi Futuro Fnd the State Government of Rio, aiming to prepare young people for careers in digital, entertainment and creative industries.


Not surprisingly, Brazil has a growing Education Technology Industry and a spectrum of innovative companies serve a growing education market. Gestar, for example, a Sao Paulo firm who developed the concept of “SRM” – Student Relationship Management built on CRM.

Then there is Grupo Positivo, the tenth largest computer manufacturer in the world who focus on education. They produce education software; run education portals; provide teacher training and educational and technical support for partner schools. Positivo even has its own university near its headquarters in Curitiba.

A significant success story coming out of Brazil is CDI – the Centre for Digital Inclusion founded by Rodrigo Baggio.  Brazil’s first campaign for donated computers was founded by Baggio, who then opened the first “Information Technology and Citizens Rights School” (ITCRS) in Dona Marta, a slum area in Rio De Janeiro. From these beginnings CDI grew to provide access to ICT to 1.3 million people 13 countries.

Right at the heart of ICT innovation in Brazil and with a string of successful implementations is Microsoft Brazil’s Education team, lead by Emilio Munaro. Working with all the major players, and innovative customers such as Instituto Ayrton Senna, SENAC, SENAI, SESC, Anhanguera, FIA, USP, Porto Seguro, Colégio São Luis, Microsoft is pushing the boundaries of using technology for maximum effectiveness in education helping deliver increasingly personalized learning services.

A concern raised by the World Bank in Achieving World Class Education in Brazil is that education spending is outpacing results. Brazil spends more on education than Mexico, Chile, India and Indonesia, which have similar demographic profiles. This means that there is a lot of scope for increased effectiveness from spending, and ICT, of  course, can play a major role in this.

With the advent of Cloud computing, the prospect of providing anytime anywhere learning for all is becoming realistic. It’s now time to consider how massive, cheap, and highly available computing services can be combined with a range of access technologies and high quality learning content, to open up learning opportunities for those in Brazil who are in the greatest need of it. Proof that access to ICT works for the poorest in society comes from some of CDIs case studies. With the prospect of the 2016 Olympics and the World Cup going to Rio; the discovery of oil off the coast of Brazil; a booming economy; and determined and innovative people pushing hard; there is every reason to believe that the next decade will see Brazil make significant progress towards achieving world class education for all.

Spotlight on Russia

Russia has a long and proud tradition of World-class Maths, Science, Engineering and Computing education. So it’s not surprising that Russia was one of original innovators in implementing Computers and Computer Science into schools. “Computational Mathematics & Programming”, for example, was certified at national level as far back as 1961. For an interesting perspective on the development of the curriculum in a Russian school, click here.

Under the 1985 National Computer Literacy Program, Computer Science was included in the school curricula as a compulsory subject, alongside Mathematics, Physics and other Scientific disciplines. Schools were also supplied with computer facilities. The Computers for rural school initiative (2002-2003) ensured that each rural school in the country had a minimum of three computers in the building. Taking this to the next level, Intel partnered with Volnoe Delo to further provide access to technology across all regions in Russia.

The Internet for every school (2006-2008) program further improved access to Information Technology across all of Russia, and today every school in the country has access to ICT devices and the Internet. ICT literacy is also now compulsory in all teaching training courses. To support this the World Bank implemented their largest free-standing ICT/education project – the eLearning Support Project. This enabling 60,ooo teachers to be trained through 42 different training programs; 1100 distance learning courses; and digital learning resources made availalbe in 14 subjects.

Schools now make good use of a range of software including Microsoft, Adobe, and also “home grown” software from firms like ABBYY and 1C. As part of the Digital Education Resources Program (2008-2010), a number of free digital education resources are made available for students on a variety of school subjects.  

Leading the way in the use of ICT in Russia are a number of Innovative Schools. Given Russia’s track record in computer science, we can expect to see plenty of innovation coming out of the country in years to come.

Spotlight on Dominican Republic

Since the 80s the government of The Dominican Republic have focused on making education innovative and inclusive. One early example was RADECO (Radio-Assisted Community Basic Education project) which was established in 1982 and provided lessons in mathematics, reading, writing and science to children with limited access to schooling in the country.

Since then, developments in the Dominican Republic have sky-rocketed, evidenced by the hosting of Virtual Educa there in 2010 – an event regarded as one of the most important gatherings of Ed Tech people in the whole of Latin America.  

The Ministry of Education are currently Implementing Microsoft Lync enabling all teachers to connect with each other and to the Ministry. It was the second highest implementation of Lync in the world and an additional 4,000 teachers are expected to be connected this year.

INTEC University (Institute of Technology of Santo Domingo) are currently doing some innovative work with technology.  They have partnered with Penn State University to bring the first Hass Technical Education Center to Latin America.  This global network spreads best practices, training students in new technologies and equipment for engineers.  INTEC are a highly virtual campus, broadcasting interactive academic content.

Dominican Republic are also a part of GCREAS (Greater Caribbean Regional Engineering Accreditation System) which makes good use of e-learning to students wishing to study engineering.

Dominican Republic are leading the way in using ICT for greater inclusion – for an in-depth OECD report click here.

Spotlight on Malaysia

The Malaysian “Smart School” concept, launched in 1999, aims help transform Malaysia’s economic activities from being based on natural resources to knowledge. It started with a pilot program involving 88 schools, building up technology infrastructure and training teachers. It is currently in the fourth stage of the roadmap (2010-2020) where technology becomes an integral part of  learning process with strong focus on outcome driven activities.

A lot of development have also taken place at the administrative level. For example – Educational Management Information System and Examination System

For further insights visit:

MDeC Smart School Department – The facilitator and coordinator in the development of Malaysian Smart School.

EduWEB TV – The official web TV of Ministry of Education Malaysia – also a place for short video lessons that can be used  in the classroom.

ICONedu  – A grant scheme aimed to produce local content targeted at putting educational projects and content online.

Cikgu.Net – A teacher-centric community portal used for collaborative discussions and exchanging ideas among teachers.

Spotlight on Singapore

Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to have a national strategy to roll out ICT to all schools.  The masterplan was launched in 1997 as part of the Singapore government’s “Thinking Schools, Learning Nation” vision, to prepare students to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.  The first phase was focused setting up the basic infrastructure for schools and training of teachers in the use of ICT.

In 2002, a second masterplan was introduced, this time focussing on bringing about improved learning and increased engagement through the use of ICT.  In 2004 a five year collaboration between MOE and Microsoft began – “Backpack.NET” was designed to enhance students’ learning experience through the use of Tablet PCs, ‘digital ink’ and other emerging technologies.

Materplan 3, launched in 2008, aims to achieve greater engagement of students to encourage more self-directed questioning and learning.

The main programmes in Singapore include:

  • BackPackLIVE!:  After the successful implementation of BackPack.NET, the MoE signed another 4-year of collaboration with Microsoft.  The current phase aims to explore and scale ICT practices among teachers.
  • Heuristics Online Learning Agent (HOLA): This provides students with “virtual buddies”, and promotes self-directed learning via Instant Messaging
  • MyCLOUD: An interactive and virtual platform for Chinese language learning
  • Microsoft School Technology Innovation Centre (STIC): World-class learning laboratory for educational institutions in the Asia Pacific region to enhance their use of ICT
  • Cyber Wellness Student Ambassador programme: To educate students on good netiquette and potential dangers in cyber space 

(Thanks to Horng Shya Chua)

Spotlight on Chile

According to the World Bank, “of all the programs in middle income and developing countries that have sought to introduce ICT systematically into education, the Chilean experience  is perhaps the most lauded and studied”.

In 1992 the Ministry of Education created a program called “Enlaces” to introduce technology into public schools. 99% of the student population has access to IT at school, where on average there are 10 students per computer. More than 80% of teachers have been trained in using ICT to improve learning.

For an insight into the Chilean government’s ICT programs visit:

–       Enlaces program: “Enlaces” program official site with the entire description of the program activities, standards and resources

–  Official educational web portal for the school community school – teachers, students and parents.

–       Digital Resources Catalog: Web site were digital content and educational software is made available for schools, categorized by grade and subject 

–       Mobile Computers Labs project: 1 to 1 computer project based on mobile computer labs  

–       “I choose my PC” project: Project where selected students from 7th and 8th grade can choose a computer for their own use at home as recognition for their good grades.

(Thanks to Constanza Proto for this article)