In the recent past, technology has been the major catalyst in revolutionising the industries. In fields or industries with structural deficiencies, technology also has the capability to disrupt the status quo and reinvent the system. Perhaps, that is why experts have considered it as the best option for improving education in Africa.
Educationists have noted the increased level of Africans’ access to education over the past four decades. Still, UNESCO reports that 60% of young Africans between 15 to 17 have dropped out of school while about one-fifth of schoolchildren between 8 to 11 are out of school. Therefore, the 30% rise in educated Africans in the last 40 years, though noteworthy, is not sufficient for the empowerment of Africans.
With over-filled classes and a shortage of teachers threatening to further debilitate the African educational system, educationists have noted the potential of technology in revitalising the system. Despite the experts’ optimism, it is necessary to examine some pertinent possibilities and challenges towards utilising technology to change education in Africa.
Technology can increase students’ access to education
· Equitable access to education has always been a major challenge in Africa
· As the continent is fully digitalising, technology can provide access to educational content via mobile phones and other devices for those with few or no educational institutions in their vicinities.
· Moreover, youths who lack the means to acquire tertiary education can access learning content to build in-demand skills that enable them to survive in the labour market.
· In addition, technology can facilitate Internally Displaced People’s access to formal and informal learning without the conventional structure of the classroom, thus reducing the rate of illiteracy on the continent.
Technology can also help in providing quality education
· Reports from UNESCO and other educational research bodies on the state of African education, have shown the lack of resources such as textbooks and teaching aids, which help in providing quality education.
· Teachers have often had to use creative and innovative means to provide quality learning materials to their students, such as recreating the Microsoft Word interface on a blackboard.
· Technology can easily help students in accessing relevant learning objects and materials that can enhance learning and aid the teachers to instruct the students.
· Moreover, the cost of providing quality education can easily be reduced via educational technology like mobile learning, which allows students to access global education without much hassle.
Yet, infrastructural problems might hinder technology from revitalising education in Africa
· Needless to say, incorporating technology into education requires constant electricity and fast internet connectivity, resources which Africa sorely needs.
· Power outages and poor internet connections are major infrastructural obstacles that can prevent technology from having any vital change on Africa’s educational system.
· World Remit, a leading fintech company in Africa, has stated that over 800 million Africans don’t have access to the internet. Meanwhile, the poor state of electricity availability in Africa has already been stated and restated by various reports.
· These factors, therefore, pose great challenges to the effectiveness of technology in impacting Africa’s educational system.
Educational technology is costly to set up
· It’s no secret that adopting technology for educational purposes requires a lot of financial resources and human effort.
· Many African countries already lack the capability to allocate enough funding to the educational sector. Adding the cost of digital learning devices may take a toll on the coffers of education ministries that already struggle to pay teachers and purchase basic learning materials.
· Worse still, numerous African governments have refused to consider policies that allow the use of general digital devices such as mobile phones or even radios, to address the challenge of unavailability of learning objects.
· Therefore, the expense of educational technology is a primary hindrance for any changes it has the potential to make on African education.
Can technology revolutionise the African educational system? It certainly has the capability to do so. Yet, the reality is that a palpable reformation of Africa’s educational system requires more than the incorporation of technology. It requires a willingness to embrace the advantages of educational technology, on the part of the government and educational institutions. Therefore, policymakers, educationists and the public must amass their strengths and transform the challenges that hinder the use of technology to strengths for any true change to occur.
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