How EdTech is Supporting Africa’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery
By Meg Knight |
“Chaos and uncertainty breed Opportunity.”
According to Bruce Whitfield, this is nowhere more clear than in the current situation on the African continent.
Africa is facing not only a medical crisis, but also an educational crisis. With the forced closure of most educational institutions, this has been brought into stark relief. We know that a quality education is a requirement for improving one’s life, gaining access to the job market, and supporting one’s family. However, much of Africa has been limited by insufficient educational resources and basic education provision to disadvantaged communities. This calls for urgent action to leapfrog the development trajectory and jump straight to a more effective and equitable delivery method of learning material.
The massive growth in education technology has resulted in our ability to put content online and make it available to many, and at a lower cost. We are now able to leverage the best educators in the world to provide a uniform education experience to more learners. With the right expertise, content can be designed in such a way that much of the benefits of in-person learning are retained and collaboration with other learners facilitated. Learners can then have access to material that is appropriate for their level, leading to much-needed credentials.
We are already seeing and experiencing the first steps in this direction with many schools and tertiary institutions being forced to deliver service online. While there have been mixed results, and there is a significant need for improved attention to appropriate learning strategy and design, we have seen what can be achieved in a short time.
Private companies have already moved with speed to provide digital educational resources to those who need it. The booming of the EdTech industry has led to additional benefits in Africa. According to the Africa E-Learning Market: Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2019-2024, the market for e-learning is expected to reach a value of US$ 1,813 million by 2024. This represents not only a huge growth in jobs in this sector, but also makes a massive difference in the opportunities available to the continent’s potential learners.
While there remain challenges in terms of provision of appropriate technology and the cost of data, there is a real energy and traction around finding appropriate solutions. The speed of change is significant and opportunities are there for the taking.
Meg Knight - Chief Operating Office, Construct (Cape Town)