Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Awarded Prestigious UNESCO ICT in Education Prize
By Amber Flynn
Posted: 8 June, 2023
The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education has been announced as a Laureate of the esteemed UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of ICT in Education.
The National Forum, which operates under the aegis of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), is dedicated to promoting excellence in teaching and learning practices. The prestigious award recognises the National Forum’s initiative, ‘Supporting Open Education: Ireland’s Model for Supporting the Use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Open Educational Practices (OEP) for Teaching and Learning’, implemented via its National Resource Hub and Open Courses for those who teach.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, expressing his congratulations, emphasised the initiative’s alignment of the National Resource Hub with Ireland’s broader higher education strategy. “Digital technology and innovation is a key enabler to deliver transformative education. The National Resource Hub is a pioneering platform, democratising access to educational resources, enhancing teaching quality, and facilitating lifelong learning. It is an integral part of our ambitious vision for a more innovative, inclusive, and sustainable higher education system and supports our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Dr Alan Wall, CEO of the HEA, highlighted the initiative’s alignment with education for sustainable development objectives in Ireland. “This initiative, recognised by the prestigious UNESCO ICT in Education Prize, underlines Ireland’s dedication to these principles. It’s not just about fostering critical thinking and empowerment; it’s about creating active contributors to a more sustainable and inclusive future. The National Resource Hub does this by ensuring equitable, open access to quality education resources, not only in Ireland, but across the globe.” The internationalisation of higher education is a key pillar of the HEA’s strategy, and the National Forum’s initiative contributes significantly to this aim. Dr Wall added, “The recognition from UNESCO validates our efforts towards internationalising Irish higher education. It not only enhances our global standing but also encourages international collaboration in open education.”
The National Forum’s Chairperson, Prof Marie Clarke echoed the sentiments of the Minister and the CEO of the HEA, adding, “We believe in the power of open resources and practices to democratise education, inspire innovation, and enhance learning outcomes. This philosophy has been a driving force in advancing teaching and learning in Ireland’s higher education sector, breaking down barriers and broadening horizons for educators and learners alike. The UNESCO ICT in Education Prize is more than an award; it’s an affirmation of the transformative potential of open education. As we look forward, we remain committed to fostering a culture of shared knowledge, collaboration, and innovation in the higher education sector, not only in Ireland but in an increasingly interconnected world.”
Notes to Editor
About the National Forum
The National Forum’s initiatives, including the National Resource Hub and Open Courses for the professional development of those who teach, have been instrumental in fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration in Ireland’s higher education sector. The National Resource Hub, which was launched in 2019, is an inclusive platform that serves as a gateway to open educational resources and practices in higher education. With a growing collection of over 780 high-quality resources, the hub has successfully connected with a global user base, extending its impact far beyond national boundaries.
Established in 2005 with the support of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the UNESCO Prize celebrates remarkable individuals and organisations that drive transformative initiatives on a global scale, harnessing the power of ICT to enhance teaching, learning, and educational outcomes in the digital era. Among a competitive pool of nominations submitted by 56 UNESCO Member States and 7 NGOs in official partnerships with UNESCO, the National Forum’s initiative stood out as for its exceptional contributions to the field.
As a laureate, the National Forum will be honoured with a prestigious prize of US$25,000, as well as a distinguished medal and diploma, presented during a special ceremony on 7 September 2023 at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The National Forum and the HEA extend their deepest gratitude to UNESCO for this prestigious recognition and are excited to continue their efforts in promoting open education and fostering international collaborations. For more information about the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of ICT in Education, visit https://unesco.org/en/prizes/ict-education.
The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is Ireland’s national body responsible for leading and advising on the enhancement of teaching and learning in Irish higher education. It works with those who teach, learn and shape policy and practice to ensure a valued and informed teaching and learning culture in Irish higher education. As part of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), it champions evidence-based, collaborative, and sectoral approaches to support and transform teaching and learning practices that positively impact student success and achievement. For more information, visit https://teachingandlearning.ie