InZone Director Delivers Remarks on Dies Academicus 2013

Geneva, 11 October 2013 – The importance of bringing innovative educational solutions to fragile contexts was underlined today by Barbara Moser-Mercer on the occasion of the University of Geneva Dies Academicus 2013.

In her speech, Prof. Moser-Mercer stressed the need for innovative technological solutions to include those living in fragile contexts.

“With 15 million refugees at the end of 2012, the urgency of education in fragile contexts cannot be understated,” said Prof. Moser-Mercer, who recalled the three-pronged approach of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation: Quality, equity, and access to education; education and training; and education and fragility.

“Thanks to our expertise in learning technology, InZone is able to commit to education in fragile contexts, accommodating not only the multiple constraints of such contexts but also their cultural diversity,” she said.

Quoting a participant in one of InZone’s programmes in Afghanistan, Prof. Moser-Mercer said: “In spite of the explosions all around me, I can continue my education.”

“InZone demonstrates that academe is not limited to intellectual pursuits: it can move away from them in order to study the realities on the ground, work closely with experts from international organizations, actors in the field and aid beneficiaries, and then leverage the resulting insights to feed into innovative educational programmes that can make a significant contribution to the advancement of the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda.”

In introducing the recipient of the University of Geneva’s first Innovation Award, Prof. Daphne Koller of Stanford University and co-founder of Coursera, Prof. Moser-Mercer praised her for promoting innovation in education.

Since its inception in 2012, Coursera has partnered with top universities around the world to offer free online courses, also known as MOOCs (massive open online courses), to well over 4.5 million students around the world.

“No better figure could embody the value that this award represents”, said Prof. Moser-Mercer. “Daphne Koller has successfully pursued her vision of offering educational opportunities to anyone with an Internet connection, and thus has contributed greatly to moving us closer to the goal of education for all.”

University of Geneva Rector Jean-Dominique Vassali also emphasized her outstanding work to promote human rights in the fields of health and education.

Prof. Koller, who accepted the medal via a pre-recorded video, underlined the potential for Coursera to “overturn the traditional transmission of knowledge” and bring high-quality courses to people in developing countries with limited access to education.

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