The 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan mentions ICT in the context of improving the teaching, learning and management of education in the country. However, no definition is provided. The 1957 Education Act which governs primary and secondary education in Mauritius, does not mention education technology or related terms.
The 2020 Covid-19 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No. I of 2020) which was passed to introduce amendments to existing laws and policies during the pandemic describes distance education as “the delivery of educational programmes remotely to learners through the use of a variety of technological means as a complement or an alternative to face-to-face learning.”
The 2001 Information and Communication Technologies Act (as amended) provides the legal framework for regulating and promoting ICT in Mauritius, which includes the establishment of the Universal Service Fund.
Policies, plans and strategies: The importance of integrating technology in the education system, especially at the basic education level has been emphasized in the 2016 Nine Years of Continuous Basic Education Reform Plan. It explains that the education system needs to be designed in a manner that prepares the youth for a society that is increasingly dominated by an accelerated pace of technology. Employing technology-mediated learning that uses e-learning resources in schools has been highlighted in the innovative pedagogies pillar of the Nine Years of Continuous Basic Education plan.
Similarly, the integration of technology in the education sector is a cross-cutting goal of the 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan, encompassing all levels of education. For pre-primary, primary and secondary education, the use of ICT for teaching and learning regularly is encouraged. To do so, the plan includes objectives such as the training of teachers in using technology in classrooms, the allocation of resources to equip all schools with required ICT facilitates and the development of relevant ICT plans. The plan also recognises the importance of science, technology and innovation at all levels of education. At the pre-primary level, ICT in education is described as helpful for familiarizing learners with technology from an early age while at primary and secondary education, the development of ICT skills can better facilitate the transition to secondary schooling. The use of ICT is also encouraged to be adopted for the management of education systems in the country.
The necessity of strengthening digital skills, use of e-learning modalities in schools and improving STEM education in the country have been stressed in many policy documents such as the 2018 Digital Mauritius 2030 Strategic Plan, 2021 Institute of Technical Education And Technology Act and the 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan discussed later in this profile.
Digital competency frameworks: There is no information available on this.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: The 2020 Covid-19 (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (No. I of 2020) amended Section 36 of the Education Act by adding a separate clause for distance education during temporary school closures. This clause allows the government to order any educational institution to provide distance education and online learning programmes, including broadcasting lessons during Covid-19-related school closures. It requires the teaching staff and other personnel of the educational institutions as well as the employees of the Ministry or other statutory bodies to “contribute to, administer, monitor and supervise the conduct” of distance education activities. It specifies that any failure to facilitate the provision of distance education by a minister or a member of an educational institution will be considered a breach of their employment contract and would be liable to disciplinary proceedings.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: The 2005 Electricity Act makes no mention of any school-specific regulations. According to the 2009-2025 long-term energy strategy of the Republic of Mauritius, the country aims to achieve about 35% self-sufficiency in terms of electricity supply using renewable sources of energy by 2025. The Government aims to introduce sustainable energy projects and promote the use of energy-efficient appliances in public buildings including schools.
Computers and devices: One of the strategic goals of the 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan is to ensure that all pre-primary and primary and secondary schools are equipped with information technology facilities latest by 2015.
The Early Digital Learning Programme introduced in 2018 included the provision of digital learning devices in the form of tablets to educators and students of grades 1 to 3. The initiative aimed to achieve the two-fold objective of improving learning and teaching as well as encouraging an early culture of IT usage.
Internet connectivity: One of the six targets listed in the 2012-2020 National Broadband Policy of Mauritius is to provide every public institution such as schools with affordable access to at least 100 Mbps broadband service by 2020. Overall, the Government aims to improve broadband connectivity and speed to all schools and libraries; fund wireless connectivity for at-home learning devices and provide schools and libraries with options to purchase the lowest-cost broadband solutions. The document appreciates the importance of quality internet connectivity to enable improvements in public education via e-learning and personalised learning opportunities. It highlights that broadband can also facilitate the flow of information, thus, allowing teachers, parents, schools and other organizations to make better decisions tied to each student’s needs and abilities.
The 2001 Information and Communication Technologies Act (as amended) provides for the establishment of the Universal Service Fund, which contributions be allocated towards universal service projects and universal access projects.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Developing and strengthening distance education has been listed as one of the strategic goals of the 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan across different education levels and stakeholders. The plan recommends the training of school personnel in distance modes as well as maximising the use of ICT for creating virtual classrooms. The plan envisions strengthening the capacity of the Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) which works under the aegis of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources to provide training to education providers. It also accounts for the provision of relevant infrastructural and financial facilities for developing MIE’s Unit of Distance Learning called the Centre for Open and Distance Learning. Similarly, distance learning programmes can be used to engage stakeholders such as parents by setting-up parental education programmes.
Mauritius launched the online Student Support Portal in 2018 as a digital platform for accessing educational content for the lower secondary level, starting with Grade 7 and extending it to Grade 8 in 2019. This national e-Learning platform helps connect secondary school teachers with their students. The programme had reached at least 150 schools in the country by 2021. Through this initiative, the Ministry has provided students and educators with a set of online digital resources such as multimedia content, videos, reading materials and self-assessment tools adapted to the National Curriculum Framework for lower secondary school students in Mauritius, for use both inside and outside of schools.
Similarly, in the contexts of tertiary education, lifelong learning and adult learning, distance education as a mode of delivery is emphasized in the 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan. The Open University of Mauritius (OUM), for example, promotes access to education through a mixed modality of distance and face-to-face learning. The objective is to promote learning for non-traditional learners, lifelong learning as well as adult and continuing education.
During the Covid-19 related school closures that began in 2020, the Ministry of Education and Human Resources, Tertiary Education and Scientific Research (MoETEST) announced arrangements for learning continuity at home via distance learning modalities that included using online portals, television broadcasting, and online video-conferencing platforms for conducting classes. For Grades 7 to 9, lessons were already available on the Student Support Programme Portal and were also broadcast on TV channels. While for upper secondary students from Grades 10 to 13, online classes were regularly conducted using Microsoft Teams to maintain continuity of learning during the school closures. The Ministry also compiled a list on its website of online resources that could be used by Educators and their students for complementing teaching and learning. Moreover, the MoETEST also published a Guideline to Online Learning Platforms for educators, students and parents or caregivers.
Across both primary and secondary levels of education, ICT both as a subject and a tool, STEM as well as digital skills have been integrated in the curricula. At the primary school level, Mauritius has a dedicated ICT curriculum for students opting to study the subject. Some of the main aims of the curricula include fostering an appreciation and understanding of how to use common ICT applications as well as the role of ICT in society. Key digital competencies and skills that students need to acquire are listed progressively according to the grade level. For example, grade 1 skills include learning how to operate a computer while grade 6 skills include using graphics and multimedia and writing emails. For the lower-secondary curricula, ICT is one of the 8 learning areas/subjects that have been identified under the National Curriculum Framework for Grades 7 to 9.
Other national policy documents related to digitization, ICT and human resources have highlighted the role of strengthening ICT skills or the development of various sectors in the country. The 2018 Digital Mauritius 2030 Strategic Plan recommends the integration of digital and data literacy in the curriculum across all levels of education. Similarly, the 2007-2011 National ICT Policy of Mauritius recommends the strengthening of STEM education and the use of e-learning at the primary and secondary levels of schooling. For the secondary school level, the 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan recommends that all graduating students must be equipped with relevant ICT skills to continue learning in the future.
To achieve the goal of training all teachers adequately by 2030, the 2016 Nine Years of Continuous Basic Education reform strategy aims to provide all teachers with adequate technological skills to manage ICT in schools and to adopt ICT-mediated teacher education.
The 2008-2020 Education and Human Resources Strategy Plan recommends that teacher education programmes must be offered using diverse modes including online training and by 2010 minimum of 50% of the courses must offer ICT support. The Mauritius Institute of Education (MIE) is a degree-awarding institution with the mandate for teacher education operating under the aegis of the Ministry responsible for pre-primary, primary and secondary education. It aims to provide technical and pedagogical support to its staff to provide continuous professional development via online and blended modes of delivery. The institute aims to foster the use of ICT in its pedagogical and assessment approaches as well as create a depository of digital materials and resources for all schools through its Massive Online platform. The MIE has developed standards for all its teacher education programmes in alignment with the National Curriculum Framework and international quality standards. However, no information on specific ICT teacher education standards was found.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2007-2011 National ICT Strategic Policy and the 2011-2014 National ICT Strategic Plan both have been taken into consideration to develop the 2014-2019 National Cyber Security Strategy. This 5-year document provides guidelines, measures and action plans that can be adopted to increase the country’s resilience to cyber threats. One of the four goals of the strategy is to improve cybersecurity education at all levels from primary to tertiary education by including it in the curriculum and research activities. This would ensure that the population develops their ICT skills as well as a culture of cyber-awareness while using the internet. This document applies to all sectors in the country, including but not limited to the education sector.
The 2017 Data Protection Act was enacted in 2018 to strengthen “the control and personal autonomy of data users over their personal data” in the country, in line with current relevant international standards. The legislation aims to spread awareness of how personal information is used or can be used. It lays down how data controllers, defined as “people or organisations holding information about individuals” must comply with the data protection principles in handling personal data. The legislation protects the privacy rights of individuals concerning various ways in which data of individuals can be stored or recorded. It does not mention anything specific to the education sector.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The enactment of the 2021 Cybersecurity and Cybercrime Act led to the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Committee and laid down a comprehensive legal framework to tackle various types of cybercrimes in the country. It specifically lists cyberbullying as an offence. It is defined as “any behaviour by means of information and communication technologies, which – (a) is repetitive, persistent and intentionally harmful; or (b) involves an imbalance of power between the perpetrator and the victim.”
To ensure a safe and secure cyberspace, the 2018 Digital Mauritius 2030 Strategic Plan proposes to tackle cybercrime by strengthening legal frameworks, maintaining strong cybersecurity mechanisms through regional and international linkages and educating local communities on cybersecurity. The strategy applies to all sectors in the country, including but not limited to the education sector.
A dedicated Technical and Technology Education unit formulates and implements policies for the development of technical and technology education and STEM sectors. While the E-education unit is in charge of enhancing the teaching and learning processes in the country using technology; the deployment and support of ICT facilities and the capacity building of educators to use ICT in education.
The 2001 Information and Communications Technologies Act set up an ICT authority that is in charge of providing reliable and affordable telecommunications services to educational institutions across the country.
Primary and secondary schools in Mauritius are guided by at least two circulars which explicitly prohibit the use of mobile phones during school hours and during examinations.