The future of African schools is ‘smart classroom’

Posted on August 13, 2017 12:02 am

Several African countries like South Africa, Mauritius and Kenya have unveiled a glimpse of the classrooms of the future, where beanbags and touch screens will replace desks and whiteboards. In South Africa, the new technology is being tested before it is rolled out to classrooms over the next decade.The designs being tested include prototype classrooms where students can write on desks and walls.New digital projectors can cast images onto the floor so students can gather around and control what is on the screen with the flick of an interactive pen.Wi-fi and connective software means devices in the room, including tablets and laptops, can interact with each other.The way children learn in Africa is evolving as times changed.What children are using at home with their friends and what they’re seeing online has got to be reflected in what happens in the classrooms, otherwise schools are going to be left behind.There would be some critics of the flexible classrooms, which have beanbags and light-weight furniture that can be moved around instead of traditional chairs and desks. However, children were more engaged with what they were learning.The role of teachers is set to become much different from that of today.Schools of the future will be packed with a combination of artificial intelligence and personalized learning tools, education experts predicted.Students will not spend much time at school as they do now. An expert i spoke to recently said students might have to go to school only for morning classes or even every other day.The expert believes that after school classes and self-study sessions will disappear in future schools. While at school, students will be involved with various forms of learning activities. In Mauritius, in one corner of a classroom, students are engaged in lessons tailored toward their individual needs, interests and pace of learning with digital gadgets such as smart pads. In another corner, others are exploring the upcoming content on the Internet. For example if a little girl is reading on a bean bag, that is great for the child, the fact that they are reading irrespective of where they might be reading.

Teachers in Africa won’t teach the same way using new technology, they’ve got to use that new technology and got to teach differently.Overall, in Africa teachers will play different roles as advisers, coaches, and facilitators who help students to learn in more self-motivated ways in future.From primary and secondary schools, machine-assisted educational platforms will enable learners to study at their own pace and repeat subjects, courses or chapters that they are struggling with.At the moment, teachers find it more challenging meeting individual demands of students, regardless of a class’ size. New platforms based on artificial intelligence will change that. Data on millions of lessons will help identify learning algorithms and patterns of individual students, suggesting a whole new approach to interact with students. As technology changes faster, so does the role of education. A new education platform will ensure that learning is not to prepare students for one single profession or job skill, but to help them nurture the ability to constantly adapt to changing demands. It won’t be like just teaching students a set of fixed knowledge with textbooks over a fixed period. It has to be a lifelong learning process more responsive to the future workforce in a way that students can discover their true passions and talents.The main focus of education will be on cultivating students competencies to identify and solve problems independently, not on operating machinery or doing basic programming.Advancing students’ capabilities to identify and solve problems so that they will be better prepared for the rapidly changing job market will be a must.African countries also need to change the evaluation system. They need to evaluate students based on whether they have the ability to create something by themselves or to identify and solve problems independently rather than evaluating them with written, multiple choice tests.In Africa’s future, what’s important will not be whether students possess knowledge but whether they have the ability to utilize that knowledge creatively.

Contador Harrison