Covid-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of education, highlighting the digital divide in Africa – and expose the vital need for all-inclusive digital literacy, say expert panelists at the inaugural session of Canon’s Groundbreaking Thought Leadership Series (www.Canon-CNA.com).
Due to the pandemic, e-learning has provided a vital lifeline for learners affected by the global school closures. This, in turn, highlighted many social inequalities – most notably the digital divide faced by the millions of students who did not have access to tools or resources and who could not engage in education. distance learning.
Yet Africa can share many successes – and offer solutions for moving forward. Africa Frontiers of Innovation, the monthly interactive thought leadership series, explores current issues and offers innovative strategies and solutions for a world on the path to post-pandemic recovery.
Entitled ‘Developing Digital Skills and Student Literacy’, this first session saw award-winning Kenyan journalist moderator Victoria Rubadiri ask tough questions – pre-defined and from the audience – that deepened digitization and the future of education on the continent, including proposed practical interventions and actionable information on the way forward.
Esteemed panelists Julianna Lindsey – UNICEF Representative in Rwanda – and Joseph Muteti Wambua, Joseph a unaccount, Senior Curriculum Development Officer at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, recounted their countries’ successes, detailing how Kenya and Rwanda responded quickly broadcasting channels to produce educational programs for learners on radio and television, as well as putting their programs online to ensure lifelong learning. Learners with special needs were also taken care of, with Braille translations distributed to blind students and sign language interpretations included in all visual broadcasts.
“In Rwanda, around 80% of children have been able to access e-learning,” notes Lindsey, adding that the greatest success has been to enable access to devices with the help of the Ministry of Education and Training. Community NGOs.
Reimagining Education: Unlocking Future Potential
These interventions, as successful as they were, also highlighted another barrier to learning, beyond the lack of access to devices, that of digital literacy. As Lindsey points out, “We have realized that even where there are devices, not all children, parents or teachers may know how to access a web page, for example. So, we have learned through this that it is very important to work on this digital literacy – for parents, teachers and learners / pupils. “
Various organizations across Africa have implemented proactive programs to bridge the digital divide. In February 2020, the African Union launched a digital transformation strategy, aimed at connecting the continent. UNICEF has also long worked on the Reimagine Education program, which aims to connect all schools around the world, ensure connectivity and engagement, and provide relevant regional teaching and learning content.
Wambua, who has been developing e-learning programs for over a decade, predicts blended learning will be the way to go around the world. “The blend solves a lot of problems for us – it makes people aware of the benefits of technology in the learning process and helps us develop interactive learning content that all learners can access universally, regardless of their status. : autistic, auditory or visual. with weakened faculties. Governments should procure the necessary technologies, and parents should also provide the tools and resources to learners. “
“The African Frontiers of Innovation Seminar not only highlighted various successful interventions and strategies, but it also underscored the need for all stakeholders to embrace the change that Covid-19 has brought in its wake – and strategize accordingly for future success. commented Mai Youssef, Director of Corporate Communications and Marketing Services – Canon Middle East and Canon Central and North Africa.
Don’t miss the second episode of the series on Wednesday, February 24, when an equally distinguished and diverse panel takes an in-depth look at the innovations and developments of the music industry on the continent, as well as the impact of digitization on industry. – and the challenges for African musicians, producers and industry players.