Education is increasingly becoming more stressful and challenging for the students, educators and administrators. This issue is more strongly felt across Africa than in any other part of the world. More than 10 million kids in sub-Saharan Africa drop out of their primary schools each year. Even if they are able to finish primary school education, the children tend to possess literacy and numeracy skills much less than the expected levels.
Need for improving education
Currently, there is a significant deficit of skilled, motivated and trained educators in Africa. Experts believe that in order to make sure that by 2015 every African child can access quality education, sub-Saharan Africa must recruit almost 350,000 teachers each year. However, it seems rather implausible that it would actually happen. Steve Vosloo, mobile learning specialist at UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and founder of the Yoza Cellphone Stories project, recently wrote in a BBC article “In the last decade many African countries have, against these significant odds, made solid progress in improving their education levels. However, the challenges are often too large. The “usual” tried and tested methods of delivering education are not enough.”
Mobile learning is the key
But there is a probable solution. Although education is struggling to deal with the social, political and economic challenges, mobile communication has spread like wildfire across the continent. Currently, Africa is the most rapidly expanding and second biggest mobile phone market worldwide. While in many nations like Namibia, Gabon and Botswana, the number of mobile subscriptions is higher than inhabitants, the continent is still one of the lowest mobile penetration among any market. But experts believe that we can expect a lot of growth in the coming years. With more than 620 million mobile subscriptions across Africa, we can certainly infer that the people of the continent are connected, perhaps for the first time in the history.
Vosloo wrote “These connections offer an opportunity for education. Already, we are starting to see the beginnings of change. An increasing number of initiatives, some large-scale, some small, are using mobile technologies to distribute educational materials, support reading, and enable peer-to-peer learning and remote tutoring through social networking services.” Mobile networks and connections are integrating education administration and enhancing communication among students, parents and schools. He added “Mobile learning, either alone or in combination with existing education approaches, is supporting and extending education in ways not possible before. ”
Today, millions of African learners are carrying out their regular studies, including reading and writing, through their smartphones either via online forums & chats, social networks, instant messaging or even through SMS. Mobiles phones are now also utilised to access long-term reading materials.
Steve Vosloo added “Projects such as Yoza Cellphone Stories, which offers downloads of stories and novels, has shown impressive uptake amongst young African readers who enjoy mobile novels or ‘m-novels’. On Yoza, users not only read stories but comment and vote on them. In its first 18 months, Yoza had 470,000 complete reads of its stories and poems, as well as 47,000 user comments. ”
The bottom line
Presently, mobiles have become one of the most effective channels for distributing content and reading materials in a fast, easily accessible and affordable way. As the need for education revolution becomes stronger in Africa, mobile learning can actually offer some effective solutions not just to educators and students, but also to schools.
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Article source – bbc.in/1LA6CyF