BY HANNAH KEBBLE
As the world, not too long ago, celebrated Africa Day, it would be remiss to not recognise the efforts made to reduce the education gap in the continent. Education is a fundamental human right and yet, as of 2022, by the age of 15, 60 percent of children are not placed in school. While the statistics are stronger regarding children from the ages of 6 to 11 (80 percent receiving ongoing education), the reality of lack of resources, poor quality education, and little funding means that those placed in a school system may be receiving an education of a negligible standard.
Moreover, the lack of transportation available to students, with an average walking distance of 12 km every day to school, exacerbates this crisis as some students cannot travel to school on most days. In addition, the closures of schools necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic further forced children to stay at home, some assuming the role of caretaker, which they cannot subsequently abandon.
While the pandemic had devastating impacts on the schooling system, it did serve as a catalyst for the mobilisation of online distance learning and a stimulus for innovation in education around the globe. This has been most evident in South Africa where the share of internet users who watched online learning videos in the 4th quarter of 2021 was 66 percent. This stands in stark contrast to countries like Japan (11 percent) and the Netherlands (25 percent).
This drive for online learning is a huge space for growth, development, and opportunity in South Africa and has been recognised by the cloud computing community. Sea Monster, an animation and game development company, is gearing towards utilising the power of oral tradition (an indigenous and historic means of teaching) through storytelling as a means to support learning and unlock challenges in communication. This is an exciting move towards increasing access to education in light of the high EdTech usage in South Africa and a recognition that a reasonable education has the promise to transform the life of a student, and in turn, empower a community at large.
HANNAH KEBBLE, an author at Frost & Sullivan Africa, gives an insight on the impact e-Learning has been making in Africa