Technology Is Improving Education in Africa

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SEATTLE, Washington — Africa has seen significant growth in the area of education in recent years. The U.N. reports that the average primary school enrollment in Africa is more than 80 percent. Furthermore, more children than ever are enrolling in elementary school. This increase in education may be in part due to the ways technology is improving education in Africa.

EdTech: Television, CDs and Mobile Devices

The website Worldremit defines EdTech, or educational technology, as a set of tools that provides a way for students to learn digitally. According to Worldremit, EdTech is an industry started back in the 1960s. Television and radio were utilized in order to provide educational content to certain African countries as well as training opportunities for teachers. The use of media continued into the 1990s with education software and CDs.

This set the groundwork for the strategies employed in the present day. Now students use tablets and other mobile devices. These devices allow students access to books and information that they may not have otherwise been able to access. The use of mobile devices has seen particular success in Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. This use of EdTech may help Africa overcome the reported 100 years of catching up that Brookings.edu reports African students are facing in order to match “high-income countries.” 

Unicaf University’s Continental Reach

Unicaf University is one example of how technology is improving education in sub-Saharan Africa. The New York Times reports that Unicaf University reaches 18,000 students.It goes beyond sub-Saharan Africa and reaches the entire continent. Unicaf University offers ways for African citizens to afford admission fees through low-cost digital learning and scholarships. The “average per capita income” is about $315 in the region. One student earned a full-ride after winning a business competition that Unicaf University had sponsored. 

The founder of Unicaf University, Nicos Nicolaou, said that one way Unicaf factors into how technology is improving education is by providing students with tablets and the ability to download their course materials to access them offline. This helps to combat the concern of how internet access may impact the idea of an online classroom. Online classrooms may help students by bringing the classroom to them in a country where access to higher education is limited.

Many of the ways technology is improving education in Africa rely on some kind of internet connection in order to be used to their highest potential. There have been advancements made in order to connect Africa with the online world. The mobile industry in Africa already accounted for 8.6 percent of Africa’s GDP in 2018. if current trends continue, Africa’s internet use might make up 12 percent of the world’s internet use by the end of 2020.

Learning Management Services

One way that this access to the internet is being used for the benefit of education is through learning management services (LMS). Learning management services help students by providing one place to access materials for class. The website Elearningindustry.com reports that using an LMS has shown to be both cost-effective and easy to use, especially when an open-source LMS is considered. Examples of open-source learning management services include Moodle, Sakai and A-tutor.

These are just four ways that technology is improving education in Africa. While some of these methods once faced the issues of internet access, technology availability and affordability to the general public, advancements have been made to ensure that the right technology is getting into the hands of the people that need it.

Jacob Creswell
Photo: Flickr

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