Africa's digital learning potential realized during COVID-19 pandemic: report

  • World
  • Thursday, 17 Sep 2020

NAIROBI, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- The majority of African countries managed to revitalize digital learning when schools closed en masse to help curb the spread of coronavirus, said a report that was launched in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The report, titled "The effect of COVID-19 on education in Africa and its implications for the use of technology," said the pandemic compelled governments to prioritize digital learning at basic and tertiary levels.

"There is a widespread recognition that technology will play an important role in the future of education in Africa, and the virus provides a wakeup call to grapple seriously with this future," said the report that was compiled by eLearning Africa and EdTech Hub.

Senior policymakers and educators from 52 African countries who participated in the survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 in the education sector, agreed that greater availability of digital tools provided a respite to students amid suspension of in-person learning.

The report said that more than 50 percent of respondents agreed that COVID-19 presented an opportunity for rapid integration of technology in learning.

"A huge portion of the respondents felt that national curriculums should be reorganized to cater for distance learning that is technology-driven," said the report.

African countries moved swiftly to close learning institutions from late February to mid-March when the initial COVID-19 cases were reported in the continent.

The report said that the timely rollout of distance learning ensured that literacy programs for children and youth in the continent were not disrupted.

It said that some 85 percent of respondents were optimistic that digital learning will thrive during the pandemic recovery phase in Africa.

The report acknowledged that poor connectivity and skills gap among teachers hindered the roll-out of digital learning across Africa during the pandemic.

"Survey respondents were clear in highlighting the three main obstacles for learners in the midst of school shutdowns: a lack of access to technology, an unsuitable home learning environment and a lack of access to learning materials," said the report.

It said that reliable power supply, access to devices and investments in high-speed internet connection is key to sustaining remote learning in Africa amid extended school closure linked to COVID-19.

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