Looking at how the pandemic exposed the technology knowledge asymmetry in the African education landscape.
At the height of the pandemic, well-resourced private schools across the continent seamlessly converted to remote learning whilst the majority of learners were left with no means to continue with their education programmes.
In the rush to procure education technology, it is paramount that policy makers realise that technology is not a panacea for all the underlying education challenges. Technology is but a vehicle to enhance the learning process thus should remain a tool.
For Africa to leapfrog and be part of the 4th Industrial Revolution, ministries of education have to aim for exponential growth in enrolment, quality of delivery, teacher skills and adoption of technology for scalable knowledge exchange.
Africa has 55 states, making it difficult to place all the countries’ educational systems into one bucket. However, trends can be inferred from data. In order to compare member states, analysts can only rely on the standardized metrics that multilateral institutions release. This is limiting because the data is aggregated and difficult to use for individualised interventions.
Using these metrics, it is no secret that African countries were already lagging behind in education outcomes before the COVID-19 pandemic. A study done by the World Bank in 2015, showed that there is a 100 year gap in education levels between developed and developing worlds. At this pace, it will take more than 100 years for average developing world students to catch up.
Pre-COVID, Africa was making great progress in boosting primary school attendance and gross enrolment ratios, but this momentum has been curtailed by the pandemic. The continent is now struggling to get back on track because too many learners were out of school for the whole year and have subsequently fallen by the wayside. At the current rate, experts are extrapolating that Africa will not achieve the SDG goals unless radical shifts in policy and execution are instituted.
African countries cannot therefore afford to take nationalist stances with regards to education but work together and leverage each other’s strengths. Of vital importance is for education technologists to ensure that the tools they are introducing in the system are compatible with other education systems to ensure interoperability across national borders. experience for users.
At MathsGee, we are working with various schools and education service providers to help them with interoperability. Through the use of standardised Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), our different EdTech systems can talk to each other and exchange data for a seamless. The future may look bleak but it takes definiteness of purpose and unity towards a common goal for Africa to overcome the pandemic-induced education challenges. The African Union through its various organs has a special role to play in ushering the continent into “The Africa We Want”.