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Countries across the world have been leveraging information and communication technologies (ICTs) to advance education for decades. These initiatives are driven by public institutions and involve commercial technology companies, and have resulted in paradoxes such as increasing digital inequalities and uneven access to high-quality digital learning opportunities. The COVID-19 crisis further exacerbated this trend: at least 1 student out of 3 globally did not have access to distance learning during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020.

In this context, UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization has published the book titled « Guidelines for ICT in education policies and masterplans« . The publication aims to guide policy-makers to ensure that when adopting technology, human rights should be defended; inclusion, equity and gender equality should be at the heart of solutions; and innovations should be considered as a common good.

Based on these principles, the publication presents a human-centred view on the potentials of technologies ranging from low-bandwidth technologies to emerging technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Web 3.0 or “metaverse”. It advocates for national policies to protect the digital well-being of teachers and students, to reduce and neutralize the digital emission footprint, and to avoid ‘techno-solutionism’.

This publication proposes policy planning frameworks and an iterative roadmap to examine the digital readiness of local education systems, assess needs of learners and teachers and plan well-resourced national ICT in education programmes. This is followed by a deep dive into examples of national masterplans on the use of ICT in different types of education.