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High Tech to the Help

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Among the potential solutions to deal with the overarching educational problems that Africa faces nowadays is technology; as in computers, cellphones, satellites, ... etc. The stressing question is: Is the environment in Africa ready to reach the objectives of high tech? In this regard, several propositions are articulated for an efficient introduction of high technology in the process of development in Africa.

An overview of the situation of Africa shows that economically, politically, and socially, African countries are very weak. There exists an unprecedented fiscal crisis caused by years of poor administration, unwise spending, and simple disregard of the future. Due to the lack of an economically enabling environment, the natural entrepreneurial instinct and skills of African people have not flourished; not surprisingly, private investment has all but dried up. Such a fragile situation reflects directly on the quality and nature of the educational institution in Africa.

For three years now, education authorities have been experimenting with media labs in over 60 secondary schools in Abuja, Nigeria. The problem is that most teachers are not all that enthusiastic about technology; they are expected to buy their own laptops that they would use at work. With their low salaries, it would take teachers a few years to pay for a laptop; yet, companies as HP have stepped in, offering special programs that allow teachers to pay in installments.

Whereas teachers can be given access to technology via special buying programs, one other challenge cannot be fixed that easily. Several individuals object on this trend of development saying that before you can talk about technology in the classroom, you need to talk about electricity. In dealing with this problem, the people behind Ushahidi—a non-profit software company—in Kenya are developing a modem-like device that is supposed to switch over to mobile Internet when there is a power outage because it has an eight-hour battery; the device is known as BRCK, pronounced brick. Meanwhile, software giant Microsoft is beaming the Internet via unused TV frequencies in Kenya, also helping to reduce reliance on electricity. Google also has a similar project in South Africa.

In South Africa, the “M-Ubuntu project” uses mobile devices to support under-resourced teachers and assist students. The challenge facing South Africa and many areas of the developing world revolve around equity; this includes equity in opportunity, capacity building, socio-economic equity, human equity, and gender equity. It was clear that success in addressing equity in the 21st century would involve the social appropriation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for local benefit. The “absolute hunger” of people to socially appropriate ICTs for local benefit was evident in the adoption of cellphone technology in Africa. Africa has over 695 million mobile subscriptions and a penetration rate of 65%. In many African countries, including South Africa, the mobile penetration rate is close to 100%.

In conclusion, new technology is taking a leading role in modern society worldwide. These new tools are, and will be, particularly important for the development of Africa, giving the chance to the new generations to share, participate, and propose, bringing together experiences throughout the continent and beyond. The virtual space offered by the digital platform is the widest interactive, simultaneous, borderless space we have ever seen in human history.

References
ke.undp.org
sanews.gov.za
southafrica.info
dw.de
 

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