ICT offers hope to education goals

ICT Training

Africa's vast geography and diverse demographics often hinder traditional educational outreach.

Photo credit: File

In February, The African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, officially declared 2024 the “Year of Education”, under the theme: "building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning."

The theme is inspired by the importance of education as a human rights issue and a platform to propel the continent into social and economic development.

The Africa Union’s declaration is timely. AU in its economic blueprint Agenda 2063, is betting on young people to drive its vision through a modern skillset that can only be gained through quality education.

Africa is home to the youngest population in the world, whose burgeoning population is estimated to hit one billion people in the next 30 years.

This offers a positive demographic dividend to the continent, but at the same time presents a challenge of ensuring the youthful population has access to quality education that is relevant to the needs of the 21st century.

Even though significant progress has been made in broadening access to education in Africa over the past few decades, Africa is still home to the largest out-of-school population in the world, with some 98 million school-aged population not going to school, according to a report by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.

For Africa Union to achieve this ambitious goal it will need to employ innovative approaches, and one powerful tool at its disposal is Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Harnessing the potential of ICT can revolutionise education across Africa, faster than imagined.

Africa's vast geography and diverse demographics often hinder traditional educational outreach.

However, with the proliferation of mobile phones and internet connectivity, ICT offers a means to reach even the most remote communities.

By investing in digital infrastructure and leveraging mobile platforms, educational content can be disseminated widely, ensuring that every African child has access to quality learning resources.

ICT also plays a pivotal role in addressing systemic challenges such as infrastructure limitations and teacher shortages.

However, realising the full potential of ICT in education will require concerted efforts from governments, policymakers, educators, and technology stakeholders. Investments need to be made in digital infrastructure, to ensure widespread internet access and affordability.

Additionally, policies should be enacted to promote the integration of ICT in curricula and teacher training programs, emphasizing digital literacy and technology fluency among educators and students alike.

The private sector will also have a crucial role to play in driving innovation and scalability in ICT-enabled education initiatives.

Private sector players such as Huawei Technologies - through its ICT Academies, and Safaricom, have boosted ICT growth momentum targeting the education sector in Kenya and in many other countries across Africa.

As the continent trains its eyes on 2024 - the year it hopes to fix its education system and leave no child behind, governments and education players across the continent should work towards harnessing the power of ICT to make this goal achievable.

The establishment of the African Union Digital and Innovation Fellowship Program is a step in the right direction. Nonetheless, deliberate planning, improved political will, and public-private partnership will be critical in making 2024 the “Year of Education”.

- Maureen Mwaniki is an engineer and the Chairlady, Women in Technology Kenya