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Global Development Institute

A New ICT Maturity Model for Education Institutions in Developing Countries

Julian M. Bass


There is increasing interest in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in education institutions in low-income countries. Developing ICT infrastructure is disproportionately expensive in developing countries and sustainable interventions are difficult to achieve: in part because leaders of educational institutions and donors have often not had the opportunity to develop ICT infrastructure planning and implementation skills. There has been a lack of concrete guidance regarding the stages of development needed to make efficient use of resources and maximise the chances of sustainable investments.

To address these needs, a novel ICT Maturity Model is presented here that provides a developmental framework for education institutions in low-income countries. The Model is unique in defining the ICT infrastructure resource levels required to achieve primary organisational objectives expressed in the form of student learning outcomes. The Model consists of eight levels, with the lowest levels defining the infrastructure required to enable initial computer training. The highest level applies to institutions where e-research is widely practised across the curriculum. The levels in the Maturity Model show management, teaching and technical staff, and donors how to make most efficient use of ICT resources by maximising opportunities for student learning.

The Maturity Model has been derived from documentary sources and an analysis of selected schools, colleges and universities in Ethiopia. The surveyed institutions include five primary schools, one higher education preparatory school, six teacher education colleges and five public universities. The Maturity Model was used as a prescriptive, developmental tool in one of the teacher education colleges and one public university. In this mode, the Model was shown to prioritise capacity building and infrastructure development initiatives that contributed to improving student learning opportunities. Although developed and tested in the context of one country, it is hoped that the Model will be applicable across a range of developing countries.

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Educator's guide

Synopsis questions

  1. What is action research? How was the methodology used to develop and test the Maturity Model?  [Part A]
  2. What is a maturity model? Describe the main features and levels of the Maturity Model presented in the paper?  [Part B]
  3. What lessons can be learned from applying the Maturity Model in practice?  [Part C]

Development questions

  1. What limitations might have occurred due to use of an action research methodology?
  2. How could you evaluate and test the limits of applicability of a Maturity Model?
  3. How could you use the Maturity Model to develop an ICT strategy for an education institution?
  4. How broad and credible is the base of evidence used to develop the Maturity Model?