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  • Asia-Pacific Info Summit Stresses Internet-Related Education
  • November 23, 1998 (SAN FRANCISCO) -- Government and corporate leaders emphasized the importance of education in furthering the intra-country and regional dissemination of the Internet at the Asia-Pacific Information Technology Summit held Nov. 19 and 20 in Santa Clara, Calif.
    The private conference is a high-technology follow-up to the summit of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, held recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

    John Morgridge, chairman of Cisco Systems Inc., said that the leading maker of networking equipment is closely involved in educational efforts throughout Asia. In Taiwan, it is partnering with the National Taiwan University, and in the Philippines, Cisco Systems is teaming with many high schools and universities.

    The goal of this and other teamwork in Asia is to advance the Cisco Networking Academy Program, which provides detailed instruction to interested students on the basics of computer networking. It is a professional program that leads to a technical certificate qualifying the holder to work as a networking specialist.

    Among the other Asia-Pacific countries involved in the program are China and Australia, according to Morgridge, who served as summit chairman. He also noted that Cisco Systems has its very roots at an educational institution: Stanford University. Other Internet-related companies with direct roots at Stanford include Sun Microsystems Inc., Yahoo! Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. Moreover, Cisco's initial customers were universities.

    Morgridge, who teaches a class on entrepreneurship at Stanford, also said that the San Jose, Calif.-based company is partnering with many universities in the United States, to advance the concept of the upcoming Internet2.

    "Taiwan is striving to expand the availability of the Internet at primary and middle schools under terms of a government program," said Shyue-Ching Lu, president and CEO of Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd. This emphasis on bringing the Internet to an increasing number of schools is a part of the wide-ranging National Information Infrastructure (NII) program, Lu noted.

    Taipei recognizes that school children need to be made more familiar with the Net so that they will embrace the technology and feel comfortable with it.

    Chunghwa, which operates HiNet, Taiwan's largest ISP, seeks to expand its base of Internet subscribers of all ages, in part to help bolster the level of education there. Cultivating Internet use among students as well as employing it as a tool of education will upgrade the overall competitiveness of Taiwan, Lu added.

    Thailand is stressing education as a part of its national information technology policy called IT 2000, said Pradit Pattaraprasit, Thailand's deputy minister of transport and communications. Education and a furthering of the Internet's applied use will be key factors in transforming Thailand into a high-tech nation, Pradit said.

    Across the Asia-Pacific region, education is what will ultimately separate the "technology haves" from the "technology have-nots," according to Roberto Romulo, chairman of Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co. of Manila.

    Larry Irving, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for communication and information, said that all segments of society deserve to share in the benefits of the new information age, which is characterized by the Internet. To do so, the key is a level of education that prepares people to share knowledge with each other, providing for a critical mass that facilitates effective information dissemination.

    One of the roles of government in the information age is to help provide employers, including high-tech companies, with an educated and qualified work force, Irving noted.

    "Information technology can be utilized as a tool of education, to help foster initiative among children," said Tatsuo Sato, state secretary at Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. He said it is best for children to grow up feeling comfortable with using the Internet, and that this will eventually create more entrepreneurial activities in Japan or any other nation.

    William Miller, a professor at Stanford University's graduate school of business, said that electronics and networking industry executives would be well advised to get more involved in education at the local and national levels. Their companies will draw on such educational bases in the future, if not already, he noted.

    (Neil Davis, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Sat Nov 21 23:25:40 1998 PDT