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Information technology must be used to promote development, Annan tells UN forum

Information technology must be used to promote development, Annan tells UN forum

To make vital progress towards implementing internationally agreed development goals, it will be crucial to harness the potential created by the past decade's info-tech explosion, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today in his message to a global forum on using new technologies to boost education.

"One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is achievement of universal primary education by 2015. We must ensure that information and communication technologies (ICT) are used to help unlock the door to education," the Secretary-General said in a message delivered by José Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Chair of the UN ICT Task Force, which opened a two-day Global Forum today in Dublin, Ireland.

The Secretary-General drew attention to his recent report "In Larger Freedom," in which he proposed the cause of development held pride of place, along with far reaching policy commitments and institutional reforms in human rights and security. That agenda will be before world leaders in September when they meet in New York for the General Assembly's mid-term review of progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration.

He urged the Forum to use 2005 to explore ways to "think and act urgently and boldly to ensure that ICT is used to advance education and development…whether for young girls in Afghanistan, university students in Uganda, or workers in Brazil, so that we can fully seize economic opportunities, and live lives of dignity, free from want.

"We also need to improve the use of ICT within the UN itself, so that the Organization's collective mindset and methods of work are brought fully into the digital age," he said.

Mr. Annan was encouraged that Ireland and other Task Force members, in spearheading the Global e-Schools and Communities initiative (GeSCI) – co-hosting the Forum along with the Irish Government – have taken action to put ICT at the service of education in developing countries. "We need to do much more work along these lines, and we need to be creative and ambitious," he said.

The Task Force has organized the Global Forum to bring the experts together with UN officials to explore ways ICTs can provide a practical, cost-effective and enabling solution for improving the quality and quantity of education.