Utilizing ICT to Education in sub-Saharan Africa
By admin February 9, 2017

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Today tablets, laptops, and multimedia are increasingly used in classrooms. Technology in education might be commonplace in the developed world. But the same is taking place in many African countries. At the University of South Africa, curriculum is taught through distance learning, and has over 310,000 South African and international students enrolled. Mauritius has connected over 90 percent of all its schools, while Botswana has connected all public secondary schools to the Internet.

According to UNESCO, information and communication technology (ICT) has a multiplier effect throughout the education system. The use of ICT in classrooms helps enhance learning and facilitating training of teachers. Meanwhile, it also contributes to minimize costs associated with the delivery of traditional instruction. More importantly, it provides access for students in rural and remote regions to learning opportunities. For example, distant learning allows women to learn new skills and build their career. Data from South African Department of Education showed that 65 percent to 69 percent of students in distance learning universities are deemed previously disadvantaged learners with women taking a substantial part.

The potential of technology to transform education is tremendous. However, the development of ICT is very unequal across the continent and the integration of technology in education is still insufficient. The most pervasive barrier is the lack of electricity, especially in remote and rural areas. According to data from a UNESCO report on ICT in sub-Sahara Africa, electricity is rare in primary schools in Burundi, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Niger, and Uganda where fewer than 5 percent are connected. While in Mauritius and Seychelles, all primary institutions have electricity. In terms of Internet access, Internet availability is negligible in schools in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Liberia, and Madagascar. At the other end of the range, Botswana has connected all public secondary schools to the internet. The high cost of internet remains a significant challenge. 500 MB per month is the minimum data needed to access two or three educational videos a week, but fewer than 3 percent of Africans can afford a 500 MB mobile data package. Another key challenge is the insufficient number of computers. In Zambia, there are on average more than 500 primary school pupils per computer.

The shortage of ICT and related infrastructure is evident, which indicates that substantial investment is in demand. The promising development of ICT is also supported by the 2030 Agenda adopted by world leaders. Specifically, Goal 9 of the 17 SDGs emphasized “significantly increase access to information and communications technology and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020”.

A wide range of projects and initiatives to improve ICT in education have already achieved success on the continent, from innovative Internet solution the BRCK, to the non-profit One Laptop Per Child. New developments to integrate ICT in education almost emerge on daily basis. ICT is still in an inception stage. However, its potential to transform education in Africa is evident.


Read more:

Distance learning can help women from poor backgrounds build careers

South African e-learning to reach excluded

Surveying ICT use in education in Africa

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