Education technology in Africa

Posted on March 4, 2017 12:00 am

In a continent where more than a third of population has little or no education, technology in education across Africa is assisting in a huge change in educational practice. This is not really something new, as education technology has been changing over several decades but with increasing access to digital devices, the growth has been tremendous. When in South Africa they first began teaching using technology, it was said that teachers from the 20th century would experience limited difficulty in working in those classrooms. This is however certainly not the case in the country now. Not only has the range of technology changed, but it has widened access to knowledge to such an extent that students as well as others now must accept they will be lifelong learners. Am one of those who believe that the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. As much as tech is good, teachers in Africa need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event. Encouraging students to learn how to learn is, in an opinion i hold high, the most important aspect of education. There are two ways African countries can enhance education using tech, one of them is where students use critical thinking to create innovative solutions for authentic problems and the other is where students using computational thinking and information systems to implement digital solutions.Also, problem solving method that involves integrating strategies, such as organising data logically, breaking down problems, interpreting patterns and implementing algorithms need to be taught.As a coder, i feel that creating, managing and evaluating sustainable and innovative digital solutions would be ideal same as use computational thinking and the key concepts of abstraction to create digital solutions.

Using digital systems to automate and communicate the transformation of data and applying protocols and legal practises that support safe, ethical and respectful communications are also critical.In countries like Kenya, they are working on applying systems thinking around information systems and predict the impact of these systems on individuals, Kenyan society, economy and environment.Living in the knowledge age, in a Africa that is characterised by a digitised existence and constant change, it is critical that African children are empowered to manage these. They will need to have a deep understanding of information systems as this will enable them to use critical thinking when they manage data, information, processes and digital systems to make decisions about their future. Education technology undoubtedly support new ways of working in Africa’s networks and require a new, essential skill set that includes computational and systems thinking.It also provides hands on experiences using creative thinking to develop original digital solutions. The aim should be to build students who can resolve Africa’s digital needs in imaginative ways and they will be efficient operators of technology and critical users of information.Education technologies will develop African students who connect and work together locally, nationally and regionally in knowledge based African societies.African children need to learn to use ICT to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively. This will involve highly skilled students utilising the digital technologies available to them, modifying usage patterns as technologies evolve and limiting the risks in a digital environment.While African countries are working toward improving traditional literacy, which is defined as the ability to read, write and do simple arithmetic, it also need to start moving toward digital literacy.

Knowledge has always been associated with influence, power and economic success. And literacy has always been the essential vehicle for the acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge and literacy created power in the world we live in. Advantages, both financial and otherwise, are afforded to those who can read and thus acquire, organise and use knowledge. In the knowledge based economies in Africa, the educated and literate human resources who possess critical thinking and are creative and innovative could help their countries reach the same level of respect as other developed and civilised countries in the world.African countries are still struggling to address the challenges in equality, accessibility and quality facing its educational system. Technology has enabled education and enriched the alternatives to the way Africans learn.Unlike back in my teenage days, knowing has shifted from being able to remember and repeat information to being able to find and use it.In my view, the most important literacy in the knowledge-based economy is how to find, select and use knowledge productively. The reason African education needs to shift from passing the standardised test to developing learners’ potential, teach them how to learn sustainably and to unleash their fullest strengths. With digital literacy, more Africans will be participating in the knowledge-based economy. Africa academics, governments and businesses need to work together so they can narrow the gap between the economy and education. The quality of African educators should be continuously improved by providing professional development, better quality control and increasing the standards of certification.Like they are doing in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, African educators should be the facilitators of leveraging new technology and digital literacy to students. In so doing, Africa teachers and students will grow together.Understanding education technology, its impact and its future use is very important. In conclusion, I feel that digital literacy will offer speed, convenience, economical sense and availability in a larger scale in Africa, but there will be no single one size fits all solution with education technology.

Contador Harrison