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Education Communications Digital The Almighty Buck Technology

Digital Technology Can Help Reinvent Basic Education In Africa (qz.com) 70

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: African countries have worked hard to improve children's access to basic education, but there's still significant work to be done. Today, 32,6 million children of primary-school age and 25,7 million adolescents are not going to school in sub-Saharan Africa. The quality of education also remains a significant issue, but there's a possibility the technology could be part of the solution. The digital revolution currently under way in the region has led to a boom in trials using information and communication technology (ICT) in education -- both in and out of the classroom. A study carried out by the French Development Agency (AFD), the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), Orange and Unesco shows that ICT in education in general, and mobile learning in particular, offers a number of possible benefits. These include access to low-cost teaching resources, added value compared to traditional teaching and a complementary solution for teacher training. This means that there's a huge potential to reach those excluded from education systems. The quality of knowledge and skills that are taught can also be improved.

Digital Technology Can Help Reinvent Basic Education In Africa

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Or? I believe that the biggest mistake Africa made was booting the Dutch, Belgians, and British out. Africa, all of it, would be so much better today if still under European control.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      While we're at it, let's bring back slavery. /s
      A good argument can be made that the colonial exploitation of Africa is the cause of most of their current problems. For hundreds of years, Africa has been exploited for natural resources, slave labor and restricted education and development opportunities. It's still going on. The rest of the world still looks on Africa as a "resource" to be exploited (China is the latest to take advantage of Africa). Best to get rid of colonial powers.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2017 @08:14AM (#55546457) Homepage

    The problem is, as said in TFS: "32,6 million children of primary-school age and 25,7 million adolescents are not going to school". Step one: get them in school, where a teacher has access to them.

    Then this: "ICT in education...offers a number of possible benefits...these include access to low-cost teaching resources"

    Um, no. Low cost is chalk and a blackboard. Pencil and paper. Using digital technology, especially for primary school children, is an idiotic idea. The kind of idea dreamed up by technology fans who haven't got the slightest clue about the actual challenges facing the kids there.

    • Um, no. Low cost is chalk and a blackboard. Pencil and paper.

      I assumed that was what they meant.

      FTFA :

      These include access to low-cost teaching resources, added value compared to traditional teaching and a complementary solution for teacher training.

      Wow, who'd ever have thought of that?

    • by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2017 @08:30AM (#55546535)

      The kind of idea dreamed up by technology fans who haven't got the slightest clue about the actual challenges facing the kids there.

      Those guys do know this better than you, it's just that their aim is not as benevolent as you'd expect.

      Getting teachers there would cost orders of magnitude less than "one iPad per child", but won't line the pockets of people interested in their pockets being lined.

      Any technological device would also end up being robbed by the local warlord. This is the primary obstacle for making sub-Saharan Africa less of a hellhole.

      • by kenh ( 9056 )

        Any technological device would also end up being robbed by the local warlord. This is the primary obstacle for making sub-Saharan Africa less of a hellhole.

        Right. It's all the stolen OLPC that makes life so hellish in Africa, it's not the lack of water, healthy food, sanitation, shelter, genocides, and slavery trade that make it so bad. It's that the poor African school-age child lost access to the OLPC that was never shipped to Africa, to be used in their non-existant school, where their non-existant teacher would explain to them that learning to program in squeak would unlock a six-figure job in silicon valley when they turn 18...

        • It's that the poor African school-age child lost access to the OLPC that was never shipped to Africa,

          I was trying to remember the blue-sky utopian program that was supposed to put laptops in the hands of kids in Africa. I gave up on them when they couldn't manage to fulfill their BOGO deal after I paid them. They kept coming up with excuses for not sending me the one they owed me. They tried pushing it past the three month, IIRC, time frame where I could cancel the order, so I cancelled it. Are any of those people still alive?

    • Maybe use the tech to train the teachers and at least put a "library" in every school. I can't imagine there is a shortage of labor to wield a stick of chalk.
    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      Yes, chalks and a blackboard are cheap but you don't seem to understand that there is a vast shortage of teachers and money to pay them. Technology can provide access to quality education.

    • by bigpat ( 158134 )

      The problem is, as said in TFS: "32,6 million children of primary-school age and 25,7 million adolescents are not going to school". Step one: get them in school, where a teacher has access to them.

      Then this: "ICT in education...offers a number of possible benefits...these include access to low-cost teaching resources"

      Um, no. Low cost is chalk and a blackboard. Pencil and paper. Using digital technology, especially for primary school children, is an idiotic idea. The kind of idea dreamed up by technology fans who haven't got the slightest clue about the actual challenges facing the kids there.

      Do the math on that... I don't have numbers, but do the math on that... chalk and a blackboard are inexpensive, but they also are without content and without value for anything other than stick figures and smiley faces unless there is a really really good teacher to go along with them.

      If you are talking about digital content it is relatively cheap to distribute versus the cost of either books or the cost to educate teachers and move them into a community... also even if you do get a teacher (even a good tea

    • Using digital technology, especially for primary school children, is an idiotic idea.

      Not if you're the elite and the idea of an educated middle class has abhorred you ever since the peasants had the nerve to learn to read...

    • Clean water and sanitation would be a better investment.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Um, no. Low cost is chalk and a blackboard. Pencil and paper. Using digital technology, especially for primary school children, is an idiotic idea. The kind of idea dreamed up by technology fans ...

      That seems correct because generations who learned that way did not suffer for it. All those people who built Apollo hardware and sent man to the moon learned that way, so did the great scientists and writers; John von Neumann and William Shakespeare did not learn to read on iPads. However, the argument for digital education is fundamentally economic, yet your argument about the efficacy and comparative prices of paper, pencils, chalk and blackboards does not address overall costs of education in circums

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Have you been to poor Africa?
    It is unbelievably poor - we are not talking 1/100 of your money, not 1/1000. There poverty is really like 1/10000 - maybe more.
    They are so staggeringly poor and so many, that you feel completely hopeless to help.

    Even if you sold every thing and lived on the street, you would still have a better access to food and water and shelter.

    Technology is a long way off being cheap enough.

    • Every time II say this (and yes, I have been to Africa), I get labeled as a troll. And yes, it's all true.

      I think the problem is is that the gap is so mind boggling huge, that there is not frame of reference to describe it. Africa is great place, even the un-touristy areas.I wish everyone could go for a visit and think the world wold be a lot better if they did.

  • by rfengr ( 910026 ) on Tuesday November 14, 2017 @08:16AM (#55546469)
    Send them the iPads my kids use in school. Damn things are horrible for anything but rote math drilling. Daughter was trying to show her work by zooming in and writing between questions with her finger. The rule in this house is to do it on paper. Don’t let Apple into your schools.
    • > Donâ(TM)t let Apple into your schools.

      That's an overly specific rule, as it lets Microsoft sneak past your defenses.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The OLPC was a bad idea on paper, and a total failure in practice. We don't need "possible benefits", we need to do stuff that we know works. I've had enough of corporations (Microsoft, now Orange) throwing billions at educational experiments.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Technology is a solution in search of a problem. Basic education needs human interaction, as our Tech Leaders do actually know - that's why they teach their kids without tablets or smartphones.

    There is no scientific nor even empirical evidence that adding digital bells&whistles to teaching "enchances" it, let alone reinvents it.

    Silicon Valley, mind your own business - the world doesn't need you to save himself!

  • Because, hey, we need to include witch doctors, magic and shit as real science.

  • Obviously we've addressed the issues of access to clean water, healthy food, shelter, and an end to genocide and slavery in Africa, so now we can focus on providing school age children access to internet-connected tablets and reinvent education in Africa.

    We did address the water, food, shelter, genocide and slavery issues in Africa right? I mean, why else would we focus on teaching techniques in lightly-attended schools?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'd start with gorilla.bas.

Real computer scientists don't program in assembler. They don't write in anything less portable than a number two pencil.

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