In a single evolutionary leap, COVID-19 has shifted blended online education towards permanent virtual learning worldwide. Within a matter of months, technology has taken over one of the most important aspects of our daily lives, namely, the safe delivery of education to every student on the planet.
UNICAF is Africa’s largest online University and is addressing the demands of providing online education to the fastest growing youth population in the world. The University was founded in 2012 by Dr Nicos Nicolaou and awards scholarships to talented, underprivileged individuals, by collaborating with universities from across three continents while adhering to a philosophy that a connected population is a population wired for prosperity.
Since the global pandemic first forced us to retreat into social isolation, debates have been held as to whether there will be a shift to a permanent online education delivery throughout Africa, and whether this will be sustainable.
Demand is high for online courses and solutions are being sought to make this sudden switch in educational requirements affordable, flexible and relevant to the lives of these young people.
Although the COVID-19 crisis presents an opportunity to overhaul and strengthen the education system in Africa, it also demands flexibility from employers of working parents who may need to transfer their skills to their own homes in order to be with their children while they study.
Adaptation and collaboration are the keywords in the African post-pandemic world.
Like so many students worldwide, many Africans favour mobile technology and therefore, the spotlight is switching to the need for cheaper phones and data bundles to permit students 24/7 access to online courses to adapt to this societal change. Zero-rated smartphones and subsidised wifi are just a few of the solutions being considered to ease the transition from on-campus to online learning.
Even though many Edtech tools are free to use, internet connectivity is still poor in many areas of Africa. As a report from 2017 revealed; smartphone usage is 51% in South Africa, 30% in Kenya and just 13% in Tanzania, with internet accessibility at 39.3% of the total population, compared with 62.9% across the rest of the world.
Online learning in Africa is predicted to accelerate over the coming decade with collaborations between governments, Edtech companies and connectivity providers, and financial solutions emerging between public and private organisations.
Getting Africa Wired for Change is vital to connecting young people to the resources they need to improve their chances of succeeding in education.
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