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Rural South Africa: Nyanga High School in Ngcobo, showcases the “COVID-19 Way”

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Nyanga High School in Ngcobo, Eastern Cape, is a well-managed school. It achieves above 90% Matric pass rates every year. It produces learners who win provincial and national top achiever accolades. It is a school that has consistently debunked the myth that rural schools with limited resources can never match their well-resourced counterparts in the more affluent areas.

The Khulile Qamata-led school has once more displayed that where there is visionary leadership magic happens. Whilst the Department of Basic Education grapples with a messy procurement process which forced it to postpone re-opening of schools from the initial 1 June to 8 June, a date yet to be cast in concrete as some education districts are struggling to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for learners and educators, Qamata utilised the meagre resources at the school to ensure that his staff and learners were ready for classes on 1 June.

The Department has thus far only managed to deliver PPE for staff and nothing yet for learners. Instead of lamenting the delays, Headmaster Qamata, his School Management Team and the School Governing Body took a decision to procure their own.

Tuition started as planned, with learners and educators wearing masks and face shields, desks set up the “Covid Way” to ensure social distancing. Nyanga has 209 learners in Grade 12, taught by 47 educators.

“All the learners are staying at the hostel. It’s capacity is 412 so it has been easy to ensure social distancing for the learners even inside the dormitories”, said a proud Qamata speaking exclusively to HotNews.

Asked what special arrangements have been made for catering, Qamata had this to say: “The dining hall has been re-arranged to ensure social distancing. The catering company in charge of meals has provided PPE for the cooks, fumigation of hostel, kitchen, dining hall and classrooms at no cost to the school. Orientation was done”.

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Education

Overcoming these 3 Education Inequality Hurdles in Africa

Jens Ischebeck

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Demographic Development vs Educational Needs In Africa

Education inequality is obvious. Not a fun fact but there are 128 million school-aged children in sub-Sahara Africa; of these, 17 million of them will never see a classroom, literary and hypothetically.

Here’s another education inequality fact: 37 million of African children get a chance to attend school, but what they learn never gives them the right footing in today’s economy.

Riddled by poverty, overpopulation, linguistic hurdles and lackadaisical governments, sub-Sahara Africa students find it hard to obtain the level of quality education carved by all.

If you are a student, teacher or an educational professional in Africa – you probably have an inclination towards online courses – mobile learning (m-learning) and e-learning on how they have the power to pave the future of Africa.

That’s one of the reasons to promote distance education and enhance equality in education for Sub Saharan students.

What does “Access to Education in Africa” Mean?

Steady access to education in Africa depends on several factors.

These are factors to reduce inequality of education:

• Geographical location of the school

The location where the schools are situated depends on various factors. Some areas in Africa are densely populated, while others are not. With an effort by governments to start more schools in densely populated areas, there little to smile about. In lesser developed and lesser populated areas, schools are few and in between.

• The Aspect Ratio of Schools and Distance

 The number of schools available per region and the distance children must travel to get to school must be considered. Children are forced to travel longer distances to get to school for unfathomable hours with poor road infrastructure and insecurity in their Counties and communities.

• Reasonable fear of high cost of school fees

How many parents can afford to send their children to school, pay hard-earned cash for school supplies in place of basic needs such as food and shelter?

• Parent’s and leaders’ attitude towards education

How many parents and leaders recognize education as a basic right for all? This socio-cultural issue stands at the root of children being pulled out of school and not enough thought put into their right for quality education.

More than 40% of children in seven sub-Sahara Africa countries including Nigeria, Zambia and Ethiopia do not have the basic learning skills expected of a grade 5 student. Dropping out of school at secondary and even primary level is the order of the day in the most part of these regions. 

Sadly without the right tools of education, half the children in sub-Sahara Africa will grow up without knowing how to read, write, or count. That causes education and income inequality.

Now, which are the hurdles to overcome the education inequality?

 

Education Inequality Hurdle #1: Educational System Presence in Africa

Even in regions where educational institutions are less compromised, the enrollment and progress statistics is not encouraging. Owing to the lack of quality teaching and consistency of teaching resources, there’s a great deal of grade repetition.

As a result, the number of children who successfully complete primary grades are few, which means primary schools are fuller than secondary schools.

Speaking of teaching staff, experience teachers with belts of teaching experience under their tenures are paid more than their counterparts who are less experienced. What this translates to is that in schools where most of the staff is senior, the salary figures are high.

This causes schools to hire younger staff and retire the older educators sooner than necessary or expected. 

All of these factor into the quality of education provided in these schools.

Given all these factors, the present educational system in Africa is not very effective when it comes to helping young people develop and progress into progressive careers.

 

Education Inequality Hurdle #2: Affordability of Education

Even though some government-sponsored schools are free, students in many African countries have to pay for school supplies and uniforms.

An average high-school education costs about $500 a year in most African countries. Only a low percentage of Africans who are employed in top industries such as mining, agriculture and oil & gas where salaries are on the higher side are able to afford quality education for their children.

That’s where e-learning providers come in to bridge the education inequality and bring access to affordable education to many of the unschooled children in Africa.

Education Inequality Hurdle #3: Linguistic Hurdles

The medium of instructions used by educators is one of the major reasons for mass school dropouts. In a continent where children have to travel by foot and sometimes by bus or train into inconsiderable distances, given the sub-Sahara Africa’s cultural diversity, there’s always a dialect or language mismatch.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult for children to study in a language other than that of their own.

This can be a high fence for classical education tools based on printouts and face-to-face lessons. For Edtech based lessons with software, the linguistic challenges can be decreased with the help of translation programs, already installed in the e-learning products.

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Africa

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

Watch MEC Panyaza Lesufi briefs the media following the death of a pupil

zwnews24 Editor

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A Parktown Boys pupil from DRC dies on a school trip.

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