How EdTech is Optimizing Higher Education in Africa
Although the global pandemic highlighted the benefits of Education Technology (EdTech), there were undoubtedly existing challenges regarding access to education. In case you missed our earlier article on EdTech in Africa, you can read it here.
The United Nations noted that more than 250 million children of school-going age were not in school before the pandemic and that only 25% of children in developing countries were leaving secondary school with basic skills. While the digital divide is narrowing, a gap exists between the quality of education provided by education systems in the developing world. This gap is steadily resulting in a growing need among students, communities, and countries in the developing world. Initiatives to address these education shortcomings are now focused on creating inclusive and resilient systems that provide access to quality education to these populations – and EdTech is integral to this vision.
What Are the Accessibility Challenges to Education in Developing Countries?
Barriers to education typically include security and political instability, costs, distances to schools, insufficient education budgets, and challenges around health and nutrition. With an array of hurdles to educate children in developing countries, the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped keep children in school or on track with their education. In a snowball effect, concerns now exist that inequality levels might widen even further in developing regions and that greater wealth, gender, and social disparities could emerge. The United Nations believes that there has to be investment in digital literacy and infrastructure to create a robust education sector in developing countries.
EdTech and Higher Education
With the fastest-growing population globally, there will be an increased demand for access to education in Africa. Should governments want to modernize and develop their respective countries, they will have to increase access to higher education opportunities. In 2017, the African population was expected to increase by approximately 50% by 2035. The fact that there aren’t plans to develop hundreds of new universities to cater to these future students indicates that EdTech will be the only solution to provide equal access to high caliber education to the growing population. Considering that countless students in Africa cannot attend physical universities at specific times and days, EdTech will help bridge the existing barriers. In using modern technology skillfully, teaching and learning can be enhanced to contribute towards sustainable development goals. In 2019, EdTech investments stood at approximately $18.6 billion. The projections are that investment in education technology will reach $350 billion by 2025, indicating the substantial growth and adoption of online learning. EdTech will be instrumental in increasing access to affordable and flexible higher education in Africa – ensuring an uptake from a broader range of students.
The Future of EdTech and Higher Education
African universities and colleges can use EdTech to rapidly expand their services to make higher education more accessible. For example, Sub-Saharan Africa has approximately 8% of students enrolled in higher education, and the aim is to see this percentage reach 50% in Africa by 2063. With the flexibility EdTech offers, this goal will help provide quality higher education to populations that might never have had such access. In addition, since fiber optic cables are now connected across the African continent, more people can participate, regardless of how remote the areas might be in which they reside.
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