Press Releases

    PI/1618
    3 November 2004

    Ireland to Give $5.1 Million to United Nations Initiative for Modern Technologies to Help Education in Developing World

    UNITED NATIONS, 1 November -- Ireland is to contribute $5.1 million to a United Nations initiative that aims to connect thousands of schools and villages in the developing world through information and communication technologies (ICTs).

    Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced the Irish Government’s contribution to the United Nations ICT Task Force Global eSchools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) during Mr. Annan’s recent official visit to Ireland.

    With its Dublin-based secretariat, the Initiative was founded in recognition of the vital role that education plays in creating long-term, sustainable development.  The Initiative collaborates with local partners in the developing world to improve education, empower communities and accelerate socio-economic development, while supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals through the widespread deployment of information and communication technologies in schools and communities.  The Initiative will operate in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

    “If we are to bridge the digital divide, we must match the powerful new tools of development with the people who need them most”, Mr. Annan said in Dublin.  “The Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative does just that, and has the potential not only to improve education, but also to empower people, strengthen governance, open up new markets and galvanise our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  I would like to thank the Government of Ireland for its strong support, as well as the private businesses, local authorities and educational systems, and non-governmental organizations that are also involved”.  He said he was pleased that the GeSCI had begun to establish close links with the United Nations system, such as by partnering with UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.  That innovative partnership could help millions of children and young people throughout the developing world to improve their lives.

    Prime Minister Ahern called the Initiative “an exciting and innovative approach to tackling the enormous education challenges in the developing world”.  The fact that Ireland was hosting this initiative highlighted its emphasis on the importance of education and information and communications technologies to underpin national and global socio-economic development.  He was pleased that, with this contribution, GeSCI would be able to impact communities far beyond the classroom and, through education, provide a crucial and lasting solution to many of the world’s issues.

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan created the ICT Task Force, set up in November 2001, to inform on how the benefits of such technologies could be made accessible and meaningful for all, particularly the poor.  The UNICEF is providing vital assistance to GeSCI through its operational support and its guidance and support in programming.

    For further information, please see www.gesci.org, or contact Samuel Danofsky, ICT Task Force Secretariat, tel.:  (917) 367 2424, e-mail:  danofsky@un.org.

    * *** *