The Role of Technology in Restructuring Basic Education

Basic Education
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Africa has come a long way in improving access to primary education for children. However, with the increased birth rate in rural areas, millions of children don’t go to school. Those who manage to aren’t getting a high-quality education. This is partly due to a high teacher/student ratio. And the lack of teaching resources in most parts of Africa. The good news is that technology can help to change this situation. With all the emerging technologies, many African countries have launched programs to use ICT in schools.

According to a report by UNESCO in 2017, ICT in the teaching program can increase the reach of education, at a lower cost. The quality of education also improves. This is because there are a lot of teaching and assessment materials available online. Teachers from different schools can also collaborate.

The Digital Revolution

By 2003, only 5% of Africa’s population had access to a mobile phone. Now more than 70% of the population owns a phone. They have become cheaper and accessible. Fiber-optic cables and satellites have improved internet connectivity. Africa also connects to other continents through undersea cables. Few households have wired internet. However, a vast population has access to wireless internet through various internet providers. The fortunes of Africa are changing due to internet penetration. E-commerce is one of the main ways that the internet is contributing to economic growth.

Other benefits of the internet are in the agricultural sector (marketing products), and the financial sectors (mobile banking). Internet penetration has also led to an improvement in the health sector through mobile health care services.

The education sector has not been left behind. The capabilities of phones and computers to store, analyze, and share information can benefit both students and teachers. Better yet, these devices can be customized for use, specifically in class. M-learning is a form of education that students can access through these devices.

Innovation in the Education Sector

The use of technology in education didn’t start now. Since the 1960s, African Countries have been using the media (Radio and TV) to reach the teachers and the students. There were many radio and TV programs that were meant to teach the students r train the teachers. They were able to reach more students and teachers at a reduced cost. However, it was not possible to assess the impact of these initiatives on the education’s quality.

Computers came in the 1990s. Most of the Government’s strived to equip schools with computers in schools. Software for learning and other academic materials were shared through CD-ROMs. This wasn’t successful, either. There lacked effective policy frameworks to ensure that it’s a success in revolutionizing education.

Personal Computers came in the 21st century. They made it easier to own and customize for use in schools. There is a program to give a laptop to each student in a number of countries in Africa. The benefits of these PCs are that the students can take them home and use them to practice and learn more. With the electricity penetration in Africa, this will be possible in more countries in the future.

Digital Teaching Materials

Besides personal computers, there are also cheap tablets and smartphones that students can use at home. The Android operating system makes it possible to create any app. There have been a lot of apps developed to make the sharing and understanding of educational materials easier. Large educational books can be compressed into online documents. These can be read through tablets and carried around by students. Students can also benefit from Massive open-source online Courses (MOOCs) and online tutorials. Internet, TV, and Radio are possible ways to change how students can access education.

Conclusion

The use of technology in education is not new. It started with the eras of TV and Radio. With recent technology advancements on the internet, smartphones, and personalized devices, Africans can restructure basic education. However, for this to be successful, we need to address the problems in education. Most attempts to use ICT to solve education have failed, for they don’t address the issues. All relevant stakeholders should strive to come up with sustainable ways of using technology in education. The problems ailing education in Africa should be identified. Then, ICT solutions can be developed aimed at addressing these problems. They may not solve all issues, but they can change the current situation.

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