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40 years after the Soweto student uprising – ICT builds educational growth

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Yesterday, forty years have past since the Soweto student uprising started. High school students protested against racism and other injustices in school and the change of language in education to Afrikaans, in Bishop Desmond Tutu’s words: “the language of the oppressor”. The 20 000 protesters was met by extreme police brutality from the apartheid regime where the official number of students that was killed is 176, but other estimations says that real figure was up to 700.

eBook Library for education

Now, forty years after the student movement’s protests South Africa and many other parts Africa is rapidly gaining ground when it comes to education. The driver is educational technology and a growing startup-scene but also an awakening from several governments on the African continent. One example is Tanzania where an Online Virtual Library (TOVL) is being built for the country’s 12 million primary and secondary students, the initiator Rainer Mwashu hopes that by 2020 it will serve at least 10% of all students. Such projects have great prospects of lower the costs and improve distribution and give access to a complete library of textbooks, which generally improve the quality of education.

Zuckerberg funding

One indication of the importance of ICT-development in Africa is that Marc Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan, is funding the startup Andela that trains engineers in Africa with $24 million. Andela has during its two year of existence trained 200 students, but have had 40 000 applicants, the new funding gives good prospects to speed up the development of skills that Africa desperately needs.

ICT and trained teachers is the springboard

At an education experts meeting organised by the African Development Bank Group  last week in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, it was again stated that: “The use of ICT as an education tool is a key measure for equipping Africa’s students with skills they need to be competitive in the global market.” David Atchoarena, UNESCO’s Director of Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems continued “For you to have quality, you need quality teachers trained on how to utilise ICT for education.” Forty years after the protests against the apartheid regime’s decrees of new obstacles in education besides other injustices, Africa is starting to gain ground in the global competition where ICT/edtech is the necessary bridge to improve quality of learning.

Written by
LarsGoran Bostrom©

 

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