Adopting EduTech to Strengthen Education Systems in Developing Countries

The purpose of learning – this is a relative concept that means many things to different people. Its interpretation is heavily influenced by cultural, historical, social and political contexts, as well as philosophical perspectives, personal preferences, academic disciplines, and educational paradigms. Whilst this is true, it is undeniable that education serves as the catalyst for this multifaceted process. Fortunately, closer to our own time, education is no longer confined to certain demographics such as (young) men, the affluent, or adherents of specific religions. Education has beneficially morphed to exist as a right in itself to all, irrespective of race, age, religion or economic class. Sustaining, the access to education to all continuously yields benefits across different economic sectors and institutions and improves the overall cognitive capabilities of a nation. However, challenges preventing accessibility and functionality (feasibility) of education systems still linger. As we consistently witness changes in trends with the integration of technology in our lives, a pertinent question arises; how best can we leverage technology to enhance our education frameworks?

EduTech, an amalgamation of educational theory and technological innovation, epitomized a teaching approach characterized by hybridity. This nuanced methodology seamlessly integrates traditional teacher-centered approaches with digital tools, to foster a dynamic and interactive learning experiences. The advent of the Covid-19 era accelerated the normalization of Edutech through widespread adoption of computers, tablets and various software programs. However, it also highlighted and exacerbated existing inequalities in access to digital learning tools. Whilst some students and schools were able to quickly transition to remote learning, others faced significant barriers due to lack of access to digital devices and reliable internet connectivity.

Every year over a million children subscribe to the formal education system in developing countries. This surge in demand for formal education, coupled with diminishing real incomes at household level creates a monumental challenge for stakeholders to address the digital divide in the education sector. In addition, the rigidity of education systems has negatively affected the overall productivity performance and labor attractiveness of developing countries. In order to stay ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive outlook, stakeholders in the education sector have to be elaborate, decisive and courageous in adopting technology and its related digital infrastructure. Technology inclusivity in the education system has the ability to transform the next generation of the labor market and potentially offer solutions to perennial challenges such as youth unemployment. A thorough assessment of the education value chain and its core components can highlight potential areas where technology and its digital related sub-components can be capitalized to bring the needed change. The inclusion of IT related syllabi in all levels of education can greatly support Sub-Saharan African states. The innovation and creativity space can significantly reduce the over-reliance on external providers of technology software and hardware.

Also, the threat of redundancies in the ecosystem that might be experienced during the alignment phase can be eliminated by allowing those that will be affected to upskill through provision of relevant courses at subsidized rates. Analysis of education systems in developed countries such as South Korea and Singapore offers developing countries an opportunity to learn how to embed technology and its digital related sub-components into the education ecosystem. At the basic education level, direct consumers of the education system in developed countries are exposed to the functionality of day-to-day apparatus and this is enhanced as they progress to higher levels. By the time they exit the education system, they would have gained sufficient knowledge and know-how to not only operate equipment and use learning systems effectively, but also design, assemble and improve prototypes. Although, developing countries had initiated strategies to revamp their education systems by introducing mandatory computer classes, scaling these initiatives have proved challenging amidst other competing economic and social needs.

In order to develop an appropriate ecosystem to rollout EduTech infrastructure in Sub-Sahara Africa, a number of key variables have to be considered. First, relevant policies have to be in place and agreed upon by all stakeholders. Such policies are important because they create the implementation frameworks, regulations, quality standards and monitoring and evaluation indicators. Secondly, developing and upgrading physical infrastructure in learning institutions is needed to enable all beneficiaries have access to amenities regardless of their local geographical location. In this case, physical infrastructure covers buildings, equipment, and internet connectivity. Thirdly, up skilling of teachers and other stakeholders involved in delivering the curriculum will encourage and facilitate a quick and positive reception from the direct consumers of the curriculum.

Strengthening linkages between the education system and the labor market will enable the education ecosystem to understand the ever-changing needs of those who demand labor and tailor the syllabi to address gaps in the market. Importantly, developed countries that have successfully adopted EduTech, for instance India, can step in and share their experiences and support Sub-Saharan African states in revamping and aligning their education systems. Such collaborations can be in the form of exchange programs, targeted funding towards expanding existing physical infrastructure in learning institutions and open labor market access.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *