An exceptional award ceremony was organised at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 24 June 2022 to celebrate the six laureates of the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of ICT in Education, including the Open University of China (OUC).

The long-awaited Award Ceremony took place in UNESCO’s conference hall, Room I, in the presence of H.E. Mr Majed Bin Ali Al-Noaimi, the Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Ms Stefania Giannini, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education, and members of the International Jury of the Prize. The Ceremony attracted hundreds of enthusiastic participants from UNESCO Member States, academic institutions, technology companies, students, researchers, etc. During the Ceremony, diplomas signed by the UNESCO Director-General and prestigious medals issued by the Kingdom of Bahrain were presented to the six laureates, recognizing innovative and impactful projects from across the world (Brazil, Spain, the People’s Republic of China, Finland, India and the United Republic of Tanzania). The OUC President Jing Degang, attended the ceremony and delivered an acceptance speech via video link.

In his speech, H.E. Mr Majed Bin Ali Al-Noaimi lauded the Prize as one of the longest partnerships between the Kingdom of Bahrain and UNESCO. As highlighted by the Minister, “the laureate projects have showcased the technology-enabled initiatives aimed at expanding educational services across various circumstances that the world is witnessing.”

Ms Stefania Giannini underlined the significance of the Prize by stating that “when it was created in 2005 to showcase best practices in the use of technologies, this Prize was a trailblazer. Now, with the acceleration of the digital revolution, it’s a global reference that continues to evolve with our fast-changing times.” Reflecting on its valuable role in global advocacy, she reaffirmed that “we need to share and scale up tested solutions to leave no one behind and transform education systems, and today’s laureates offer a rich and inspiring array of ways forward.”

A seminar was also organised on the same day to present the six laureates and their practices respectively. The OUC Vice President Ms Fan Xianrui, made an English presentation on the OUC’s “One College Student Per Village” project.

The UNESCO Prize for the Use of ICT in Education promotes the advancement of common concerns in education by guiding the use of ICT. According to Dr. Fengchun Miao, Chief of the Unit for ICT in Education, UNESCO, the theme for 2020 was “the use of artificial intelligence to enhance the continuity and quality of learning”. Two laureates were selected in 2021, including the OUC’s“One College Student Per Village” project.

Since 2005, the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the ICT in Education, supported by the Kingdom of Bahrain, rewarded 26 innovative projects from a diverse range of institutions and organizations. Two projects are selected from hundreds of entries each year, which have gone through a rigorous selection process and have been nominated by National Commissions to UNESCO or NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO. An external review of the Prize conducted in 2020 validated that the Prize presents special value-added in promoting universal access to information and knowledge, expanding learning opportunities through technologies, and promoting equitable and quality education for all.

By Hou Songyan, OUC