The Disparity Between Ideal and Real Online Education in Africa in The Covid-19 Context
The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new approaches but also new challenges to the world. Education systems have been affected and consequently are witnessing significant changes in their policies and methodologies.
The Online Education
UNESCO suggests different ways to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on education, some of them are linked to technological platforms and the internet.
In some African countries, an introduction of online learning resources and strategies has allowed learning to continue. This approach seems ideal, considering the need for social distancing measures, however, there are challenges not yet addressed by governments hoping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the education sector.
Access to the Internet
In 2018, a UN study published through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), showed that only half of the world population had access to the internet. For instance, in Africa, around 24% of the population use the internet (an increase from 2.1% in 2005).
Although access to the internet is increasing, there are many countries in Africa where a large percentage of the population is still offline. High prices, slow connections and weak infrastructure have been reported as the main problems and definitely limit the effectiveness of teaching and learning through online platforms.
An effective and inclusive implementation of online education must also consider factors such as learning resources and teacher training. There is vast inequality in the access to digital learning tools, including infrastructure, equipment and teacher’s preparedness.
But it’s not all bad news. The online teaching practices during the Covid-19 crisis are pushing the education sector for a technology upgrade and a positive system transformation that will endure into the future.