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Technologies expected to help bolster education

By Zhang Zhihao | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-17 08:45
The three-day International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education opens in Beijing on May 16, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that China is willing to work with other countries in discussing issues related to artificial intelligence and innovative educational adaptations amid AI's rapid development.

AI has a profound effect on people's modes of production, daily lives and learning, Xi said in a congratulatory letter to the opening ceremony of the three-day International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Education in Beijing on Thursday.

Apart from being a key driver of technological revolution and industrial transformation, AI is also pushing societies into an intelligent age characterized by human-machine coordination, cross-disciplinary integration and joint innovation and sharing, he said.

Xi said tracking AI's global development trend, finding areas for breakthroughs and research priorities and fostering high-quality AI talent that is innovative and cooperative are important missions for educators.

China attaches great importance to AI's deep impact on education and has actively deepened its integration to facilitate reforms and changes in the education sector, Xi said.

China is fully utilizing the advantages of AI and is accelerating the development of lifelong, equitable, appropriate, open and flexible education for everyone, Xi said.

Minister of Education Chen Baosheng said China has the world's largest education sector, with more than 518,900 schools and 276 million students, and technologies have brought new opportunities for students.

Chen said 97.6 percent of all elementary and middle schools in China have internet access, and more than 4 million children from remote and rural regions have benefited from digital education resources. China is also building 100 State-level virtual reality education centers for teaching scientific knowledge and skills.

By the end of 2020, China plans to start building 10 demonstration zones to showcase the latest innovations and practices of AI-integrated education services, Chen added. China also plans to have around 50 academies, institutes and research centers dedicated to researching AI and related fields by 2020.

"The wide use of AI technologies in education can fundamentally change the spatial and time requirements, as well as the supply, of educational resources," he said. "This allows the creation of large-scale personalized multifaceted education for the people."

To achieve these goals, teachers and students will need more training to be proficient in using intelligent education systems. More AI-enhanced education infrastructures, better educational resource management and services, as well as more quality AI professionals are also helpful, Chen said.

Stefania Giannini, assistant director general for Education at UNESCO, said more than 263 million children and youths worldwide are out of school, and 750 million are illiterate. Many lack the "digital skills to manage in the fast-changing technology-powered world".

AI technology may not be a "silver bullet" to solve all the world's educational challenges, she said. "But it has a transformative impact on supporting teachers, personalized learning, and creating more dynamic management of education systems."

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