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Introducing Blended Learning into Africa’s Recipe of Educational Success

Jens Ischebeck

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I contend that the educational system in Africa is ripe with reforms, both in terms of the physical infrastructure by means of which educational content is delivered and in terms of how education is in theory and in spoken form.

The main reason for the urgent need for educational reform in Africa is that the continent has millions of young, ambitious and potential learners who are facing monumental barriers to achieving basic education.

The United Nations (UN) has estimated that Africa has a very ‘youthful population’, with over 200 million people currently living on the continent aged between 18 and 34.

As the UN highlights in this study, this immense number of youthful population could be a source of great opportunity. With the right educational footing, these are the doctors, scientists, writers and engineers of the future and of their generation.

However, the UN notes, the continent’s youthful population growth into contributing to the economic growth in their respective countries has stagnated due to lack of jobs and educational opportunities. The report indicates that there’s pressure suppressed to this youthful number by their families. Most, especially young women have had to abandon their educational goals in order to feed or care for family members.

The domino effect is that such cases lead to acute dangers in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where huge swathes of youths join rebel groups for lack of leadership and career related opportunities which have proven to motivate young minds to study or take up a different way of life.

Another challenge in the current African education structure is the lack of high quality transport infrastructure where in most parts of the country learners are not able to reach schools within a reasonable timeline. Though Africa is home to some of the world’s top universities for instance the University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Nairobi in Kenya. Elsewhere, in some part of the continent such as in Niger, there is only one university to cater to thousands if not millions of would be students.

Even in one of the wealthiest countries such as South Africa, schools have been deemed to be lacking the necessary infrastructure to implement the nation’s admirable educational policies. The situation is worse in Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural and/or desert areas where children and young people practically have no means of reaching a school in order to participate in conventional classroom teaching on a regular basis.

On the flipside, Africa is a continent which is highly internet literate. It often surprises my readers when they learn that even in the poorest parts of Africa, 70% of citizens own a mobile phone and that in general, communities in Sub-Sahara Africa are more likely to have an internet connection than to have adequate supplies of food and water.

In addition, young Africans are particularly engaged and entrepreneurial when it comes to developing and downloading smartphone apps. Though, when compared to statistics for app downloads in the rest of the world, the app market in Africa remains relatively untapped.

Currently, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana has the largest number of app downloaders. The challenge is to stimulate and develop this trend for it to take shape and develop into the Sub-Saharan part of the African continent.

All of this data on the current situation in Africa indicates that distance education(embracing everything from MOOC to m-learning based around smartphone apps, and from e-learning conducted via video streamed lectures to other types of online courses) is the way forward for Africa. If implemented correctly, e-learning strategies could surmount to infrastructure related success such as in the case demonstrated in the four countries and provide educational opportunities to Africa in large with its growing and youthful population.

This could open doors to adult learners who missed out on primary and/ or secondary education in their youth. The crucial aspect at the moment is to implement MOOC and other e-learning strategies correctly.

My research suggests that blended learning is the best way to go ahead with in e-learning.

Below is an evaluation of blended learning strategies which consist of how they can help young minds in Africans learn.

Blended learning: a working definition, what does it all mean?

Blended learning means a mixture of classical learning strategies and online education measures. As its name indicates, it is a ‘blend’ of online and offline learning techniques.

One great example of blended learning would be a university campus that allows students to stream some of their lectures online from any location of their choice. The Online Business School is an example of this approach. Located in UK, you can study from at home from all over the world, completely online. 

Another blended learning strategy which might combine online and offline distance education is whereby students are encouraged to access online resources in order to conduct their research. Students are allowed to submit essays and assessments and receive feedback by post.

These are just two examples of the ways in which different educational methods can be blended together. When implementing a blended learning strategy, the important thing is to ensure that the blend is specifically tailored to suit the needs of the individual learners and their environments. Video streamed lectures are less necessary in a university where students all live on campus and the infrastructure is provided by their government.

Further logic indicates that providing lectures which can be accessed online might have the effect of demotivating such students and depriving them access to a readily available embodied classroom experience. However, this type of distance education tool is perfect for learners in very remote areas who find it impossible to attend the lectures in person.

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Africa

Dr Bohloko, a Pharmacist Who Is Healing the African Continent beyond the Use of Medicine

Brian Kazungu

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Dr Ntseliseng Bohloko

Brian Kazungu, 25/05/2021

As people grow up, what they choose as a profession has a serious impact on how they experience life and how they can make an impact to the world that they live in.

One good example is that in a world where people are troubled by various diseases which affects their ability to be productive and to enjoy life, there those sharp minded boys and girls in our midst who choose to pursue a career in the medical field in order to help take away the pain in others.

As if such a noble pursuit is noble enough for them, you may find the same people engaging in other areas of human life which have got a positive transformative effect in the society that they live in and even beyond.

It is therefore expedient that on this 25th of May, a day that we celebrate and commemorate Africa, a story has to be told of one of her daughters, Dr Ntseliseng Bohloko.

The Lesotho born pharmacist whose humane, and charitable push for a better and inclusive Africa is beyond inspirational continues to inspire and touch many souls through her medical profession and through various Pan African and charitable activities that she engages in.

Despite having a demanding career that comes from having a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Pharmaceutics and Drug Design from Potchefstroom University, a Master of Pharmacy from University of Durban plus a Post Graduate Diploma in HIV/AIDS Management from the University of Stellenbosch, she still finds to pursue good social causes in various communities.

She also holds a Licentiate in Pharmacy from Havana in Cuba.

Dr. Bohloko was recently nominated and inducted as a Point of Light under the 1873 Network’s Banking On Africa’s Future 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame.

The 1873 Network is a member-based non-profit organization established in South Africa for the purpose  of provoking, inspiring and igniting new and innovative ways of problem solving in Africa based on connected, equipped and forward leaning voluntary actors.

In accepting her induction into the Banking on Africa’s Future initiative, the Pan African minded Dr Bohloko said “We as Africans need to take hold of what we have in our own countries. Africa is rich but all the resources are being moved from Africa to the so-as developed countries for improvement and they come back to us as finished products.

Africa has resources, Africa has educated its own children in the developed countries. It is time for us the present generation to make use of the knowledge that we acquired in the developed countries and use it to develop and improve on the natural resources that we have as Africans.

I suggest and I am very happy to say that we need to guard Africa and incubate Africa so that we can export the finished products to developed countries and bring back the GDP that was God given to Africa.” She said.

Despite being a Pharmacist, she is also heavily invested in charity with various organizations including the Mercy Foundation as its Ambassador in Lesotho.

Mercy Foundation is a faith based initiative which is involved in addressing food security/community development among other charitable engagements coupled with preaching of the gospel irrespective of denomination.

In Lesotho, Mercy Foundation’s milestones includes partnering with LECSA and the Chamber of Commerce to kick start charitable activities. http://www.mercyfoundation.online

Dr Bohloko who describes South Africa as a conglomerate of nations recently decried the existence of divisive mind-sets that seek to bring the continent apart instead of bringing it together in solving Africa’s perennial problems.

Such Ubuntu-ism is what motivated her to join a pro-immigrants’ rights organisation, MIWUSA (Migrant Workers Union in South Africa), previously ZIWUSA (meant solely for Zimbabweans) which fought/ negotiated for the issuing of the four (4)  year Zimbabwean Special Permits (ZSP) which enabled unqualified personnel to enter/work in RSA,  during Minister Gigaba’s tenure.

The success story of such an initiative then inspired her to lobby for the same types of permits for the people from Lesotho, a facility which was also being already enjoyed by fellow Africans from Mozambique by virtue of Mrs Graca Machel being the wife to President Nelson Mandela.

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Africa

Celebrating Work Excellence and The Essence of Life among Africans in Their Diversity through Banking on Africa’s Future (BOAF), at The Royal India Restaurant, In Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa

Brian Kazungu

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Brian Kazungu, 24/05/2021

The Banking on Africa Africa’s Future (BOAF), an initiative by the 1873 Network in partnership with Africa Heritage Society is redefining the idea of an African identity by bringing together Africans in the diversity through the 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame project.

BOAF’s focus is on identifying and celebrating what a human being is doing to inspire others by being a point of light and a source of hope to many others regardless of a person’s skin colour, race and ethnicity as a way to simply celebrate good works and the essence of life.

Its 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame project seeks to identify Africans who are pursuing their passions in a way that makes them to stand out and shine as points if light in their communities in order to inspire unity and development in a way that restores the continent’s long lost glory.

The 1873 Network is a non-profit organisation comprised of individuals and corporates who share a common passion and desire to build a new African identity focussing on returning Africa to its 1873 pre-colonial state.

Of lately, a number of the induction ceremonies has coincided with birthday celebrations of some of the inductees thus creating priceless and memorable times where the beauty of human excellence in a given profession is celebrated together with an appreciation of the essence of life.

Up to this day, different people from different backgrounds, races and professions in the African continent has been honoured by the 1873 Network at The Royal India Restaurant in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Royal India Restaurant is a prime hospitality establishment situated in Africa’s richest square mile.

It is well known for its royal touch of excellence in both its cuisine, wines, music, customer service and the refreshing serenity that it gives to its patrons.

Recently, during the 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame inductions, family and friends also gathered to spend a special birthday moment with one of the inductees, Ms Janice Greaver, a business management consultant, entrepreneur and philanthropist who turned 30.

Africa Heritage Society Chairperson, Mr Mutumwa Mawere says that it important to celebrate recognise and celebrate people for their outstanding work not because the same people seek to be honoured but simply because they passionately do what they do in a way which inspires others.

Mutumwa Mawere is a businessman and an author of an eye-opening book titled ‘When Minds Meet’ which gives the world a glimpse on the causes of Africa’s myriad of problems and it also offers solutions on how such challenges can be solved.

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Africa

BOAF 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame Inductees Unapologetic About Their Resolve to Make Africa Shine Again

Brian Kazungu

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Makhotso Michelle Maiko

Brian Kazungu, 19/05/2021

Banking on Africa’s Future – 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame inductees who were honoured at The Royal India Restaurant yesterday for their contribution in re-igniting the flame of Africa’s glory expressed their unapologetic resolve to make the African continent a global economic giant.

One of the youngest inductees, a South African neuro-psychologist and entrepreneur Makhotso Michelle Maiko, who studied in Europe, including in countries such as Turkey and the United Kingdom said that it is now important for Africans to become unapologetic about their development.

Her conviction about Africa’s potential is anchored on her vast experiences in the realities of life across the continent and her exposure to other economies which are comparatively performing better across the world.

“I am proudly South African, Turkey speaking, lived in Lagos, and grew up in the dust streets of Cameroon and Ivory Coast as well. I really-really epitomise the African diaspora.” She said

Makhotso who revealed that she lives and breathes Pan Africanism also highlighted that the African continent already has all the social capital that it needs for it to rise as long as there is a systemised and integrated ecosystem to help in the pursuit of such an objective.

“What is important is really creating a systemised and integrated ecosystem for Africa. I like calling it the capital triad which is a combination of social, economic and intellectual capital. I think we have got all the resources which but they are very fragmented, and so, I think, Banking on Africa’s Future (BOAF) is an incredible initiative.” Makhotso added.

Her fellow inductee, the Cuban trained Lesotho born Pharmacist, Dr Ntseliseng Bohloko, who is also a member of a charity organisation, Mercy Foundation, said that this is the time for Africans to utilise the knowledge that they have towards adding value to God’s given natural resources.

“We as Africans need to take hold of what we have in our own countries. Africa is rich but all the resources are being moved from Africa to the so-as developed countries for improvement and they come back to us as finished products.

Africa has resources, Africa has educated its own children in the developed countries. It is time for us the present generation to make use of the knowledge that we acquired in the developed countries and use it to develop and improve on the natural resources that we have as Africans.

I suggest and I am very happy to say that we need to guard Africa and incubate Africa so that we can export the finished products to developed countries and bring back the GDP that was God given to Africa. Dr Bohloko recommended

Mr. Fakir Hassen, a veteran retired media practitioner and a renowned author who under the Mandela administration was part of the South African team to be commissioned to UNESCO in the United States of America said that Africa is his home.

The 68 year old Hassen of Indian ancestry, expressed that even though he is proud of his rich Indian cultural heritage, he is a South African and an African because since father and himself were all born in and bred in South Africa following the arrival of his grandparents into the country in the early 1900s as endangered labourers.

In describing the Africa he wants to see, he heighted that as inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, he dreams for an Africa which is not stereotypical and where there is education for all and an Africa where poverty, hunger and corruption is eliminated.

He encouraged the sharing of knowledge especially through literature citing that information which is not shared has less value.

Kenyan born Corporate Executive, Mr.  Shayless Panchmatia who was also inducted expressed his willingness to help people in the mining industry especially the diamond sector to fully benefit from their engagement when it comes to this precious mineral rather than to be exploited in their own continent.

While speaking at the same event during his induction, wine specialist, Ronald Mkize, from the world renowned South African wine company, Graham Beck, expressed his excitement on the fact people were drinking the locally produced Graham Beck wine at the event.

“What makes me happy is that everyone here tonight understands the idea of Banking on Africa’s Future because I have seen people drinking a locally produced product here.” Ronald said

In expressing the power and potential of Africa as a giant, Ronald who has vast experience in the wine business, highlighted that Graham Beck is a South African brand which is locally and internationally recognised since it was selected for both the Mandela and Obama’s inauguration.

The 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame induction ceremony coincided with another inductee, management consultant, media personality, philanthropist and business woman, Janice Greaver’s birthday, where she turned 30.

Fellow inductee, South African musician of Indian descent, Mr Bushan Dass who sang Janice a birthday song in the Indian language as a show of inclusivity in the rainbow nation was described by BOAF’s Director of Programs, Mr Jagjit Singh as an ornament in the music industry which must be honored.

Mr. Singh who said that now is the right time to remember all the beacons of hope in Africa also added that the Banking on Africa’s Future initiative is premised on the need to ignite the fire of hope and positive action which can inspire others.

The Guest of Honor at the event, Dr Ladislas Agbesi, the President of the Pan Africa Business Forum expressed his excitement over the identification and celebration of people who are recognized as shining stars in the African continent.

Dr Agbesi described the African continent as the most beautiful lady in the world at the moment and encouraged African governments to concentrate on their role of providing state security as well as managing policies and leave the rest to the private sector.

Africa Heritage Society Chairman, Mr Mutumwa Mawere who is spearheading the initiative through the 1873 Network, a non-profit organization established in South Africa for creating innovative ways of problem solving in Africa said that Africa belongs to all those who live in it.

He also expressed gratitude to all the people who are making the 10 000 Points of Light – Hall of Fame initiative a huge success.

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