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Covid-19 Has Made African Educators More Optimistic – New Survey

In the results of a survey ‘The Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on African Education’, conducted by e-Learning Africa and EdTech Hub, teachers are not worried about the post-COVID-19 times. It revealed that 50% of surveyed African teachers, trainers, and education technology specialists believe the Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on African Education pandemic will prove to be a “significant” or “very significant” opportunity for African education.

According to the results, many African educators believe this pandemic foreshadows a fountain of opportunities for the future. They believe that Covid-19 has served as a “wake-up call,” which will encourage greater use of blended learning and new forms of technology assisted education and training in the continent’s schools, colleges, and universities.

In this survey, interviews were conducted on more than 1600 education and technology experts across Africa, who were required to share their experience of the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications. 85% of respondents thought the crisis would spark a wide use of technology. As the African Union, among others, considers that technology is the key to the rapid expansion of education and thus to future economic growth, this is clearly good news.

Respondents in the Survey

Joice, who holds 20 years’ experience of work in technology and education believes in the “fundamental role in society” of education. She said:

“We have the opportunity in the face of the pandemic to improve the uses and access to technologies aimed at learning, at a time when students and teachers can become protagonists of a new model of education.”

Isso, a teacher from Burkina Faso, believes it is precisely the difficulty of the current crisis that will ultimately culminate into real, long term benefits:

“As the Covid-19 becomes a worldwide problem with no good solution, everybody in the world becomes involved in seeking solutions for their own survival that will lead to creativity, new ideas and new opportunities and part of evolution.”

The Dark Side of the Survey

The survey also looked at the uncertainty of equity in this digital revolution. This shift in education would give birth to a digital divide and a rise in inequalities among learners because of uneven access to technology.  Respondents were worried that learners in rural communities were most likely to be disadvantaged as a result of a lack of access to technology.

They also felt that connectivity was the biggest obstacle preventing the development of more technology assisted learning – specifically, a lack of available and affordable connectivity.

Respondents generally reported that school closures had been widespread across Africa, most having been forcibly shut, and, whilst this impacted their lives negatively, 92% said they thought the closures were essential.

However, the survey showed that most educators were not being facilitated for tools to help them continue teaching in the crisis, and felt that they had insufficient preparation to adapt to the demands of distance learning.

Suitability of technology

The survey revealed how different technologies were effective at different levels, TV, and Radio suiting the primary schools and online learning for secondary students.

eLearning Africa Director Rebecca Stromeyer said that the survey showed that there was “plenty of evidence of ingenuity and innovation at all levels in many countries” in responding to the crisis.

“The crisis has been a real challenge for Africa but it has not, by and large, been the catastrophe that was predicted. Africans have used the technologies available to them to carry on teaching and learning. People have learnt from this crisis and they know how important technology now is to education.”

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