Publication Details

Siraj-Blatchford, J. & Siraj-Blatchford, I. (2004). IBM KidSmart Early Learning programme European Evaluation. IBM.


Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) have become essential tools in modern life and their use in education is increasing rapidly at all levels. It is only recently, however, that they have been introduced more widely to children of pre-school age and one very important reason for this is to prepare them for their future lives in the knowledge society. In Europe there is a growing awareness that the foundation for technological literacy, life-long learning and creativity should be laid in the earliest years of a child's education. The pre-school education sector is still, however, at a very early stage of its development in incorporating ICT effectively into teaching and learning and it is in this context that the contribution of IBM's KidSmart Early Learning programme is particularly significant. The programme was designed as a specific initiative to address the 'digital divide' in under-resourced communities and aims to support the newly identified need to develop enriched teaching and learning through the use of ICT, a key element of which is the promotion of teacher skills and confidence. The programme began in 1999 and $40 million has been invested to date. 20,000 KidSmart Early Learning Centres have been donated to over 50 countries worldwide and 4,500 Centres are now distributed in Europe, benefiting over 200,000 children. In IBM's EMEA region (Europe, Middle East and Africa) it was introduced to nine countries in 2000 and in 2004 it will be in 23 countries. 9,000 European teachers have received ICT training as a direct result of the programme. The KidSmart Early Learning Centre consists of an IBM desktop computer housed in durable and colourful furniture, specially designed for children aged three to six in association with the toy manufacturer Little Tikes. Award winning educational software from Riverdeep is installed in most national languages and a Web site provides advice for early education teachers and the parents of young children on the appropriate use of ICT to support child development1. IBM implements KidSmart in partnership with early learning organisations, usually Ministries of Education or leading professional bodies, who provide high quality training, participate in the selection of schools and contribute to programme evaluation. In 2003 IBM organised the first European Conference on ICT in early education. This conference brought together policy makers, researchers and leading teachers from 20 countries with the European Commissioner for Education to showcase innovative practice and to propose recommendations for policy development.