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National educational technology agencies

National ICT/education or educational technology agencies (and their functional equivalents) play important roles in the implementation and oversight of large scale initiatives related to the use of information and communication technologies in education in many countries. That said, until recently, little has been documented at a global level about the way these organizations operate, how they are structured, and how they typically evolve over time.

Through an examination of lessons from the development and history of a set of representative ICT/education agencies in East Asia, and, to better understand East Asian experiences, other countries around the world, work under the World Bank's SABER-ICT initiative has sought to identify common challenges and issues and potential relevance to leaders of such institutions. Some areas of common interest across countries relate to legal frameworks and laws; oversight; autonomy and independence; links to policy; collaboration with key stakeholders; leadership; human resources; selling services; evolution; and decentralization.

Many, if not most, national ICT/education agencies were formed explicitly to help oversee and/or implement a large project in the education sector to help build out ICT infrastructure (connectivity, computer labs, laptop deployments) in schools. Over time, the responsibilities and functions of such institutions may change. A typical 'life cycle' of such organizations can be observed, characterized by different attributes and characteristics of, and different challenges faced by, such institutions depending on which of the five stages of development they typify. National ICT/education agencies assume one of six common models or institutional structures, based on country contexts and needs. Over time, these models can -- and do -- change.

A set of twelve key common lessons can be identified from the experiences of national ICT/education agencies:

  1. Leadership is important – critically important
  2. Enabling legislation can make life much easier
  3. Especially in the early years, ‘getting the little things right’ helps to build credibility
  4. Funding and financial autonomy need to be ensured
  5. Managing transitions successfully is key if ICT/education agencies are to remain relevant and useful
  6. Tensions between building capacity versus creating dependence should not be underestimated
  7. Remaining flexible and innovative becomes increasingly challenging over time
  8. To ensure their relevance, agencies should evolve to become focal points for communication, consultation and cooperation
  9. Where they are most successful, ICT/education agencies are one constituent part of a larger holistic vision related to education, technology – and the intersection of the two
  10. Organizational structures may change, even if core functions do not
  11. Focus on supporting and meeting the needs of teachers
  12. Learning from experience is a vital ingredient for success

Building and sustaining national educational technology agencies:
Lessons, Models and Case Studies from Around the World

Trucano, M. & Dykes, G. (eds.). (2017) Building and sustaining national educational technology agencies: Lessons, Models and Case Studies from Around the World. Washington, DC: The World Bank.


Case studies have been collected together into a single volume. In addition, individual papers are available as part of the World Bank Education, Technology & Innovation: SABER-ICT Technical Paper Series:

The following related posts on the World Bank's EduTech blog may be of interest: