2020-10-06 17:24:49 ; Viewed 188 Times

The view from Africa: Covid19 awakes technological investment for higher learning institutions

It was a decision that no any student would ever wanted.

Closing schools and colleges for unknown time while you’re in the middle of final semester exams was something nobody could expect, as students were given few days to park their belongings and get back home.  

Different sectors have been massively affected by the pandemic including education as Schools, Colleges and universities have been closed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 700 millions of students are missing studies due to this pandemic around the global.

However, amid the pandemic there are some encouraging stories around the world about how academic institutions and stakeholders are trying to cope with the present reality.

You can speak with your friend in China, then he answer you, “We are still at lockdown but studies has been resumed as we do online”. 

Online learning, tutoring, teaching and supervising has become proper optional this time as many people are in total lockdown, but the story is different in Africa just including my University: “St. Augustine University of Tanzania”.     

According to Tanzania Commission of Universities the country has 61 both universities and colleges, that means during the lockdown period not less than 400,000 were at home without clear and common direction, no plan no compensation.

The story is the same in many sub-Sahara African countries, due to little investment that has been done on applying technology for learning in higher learning institutions.

In many African countries students are still in this unexpected, rather unprepared and unloved vacation forced by Covid19 pandemic. 

Who knows when studies would resume, nobody knows; even government and on the other side the number of infections is still growing, and there is no hope that this tragedy will end soon.

Everybody say stay home, stay safe, but is it really safe staying home without clear and common academic agenda? The stay home becomes unsafe when studies resume.

Perhaps this incident should be considered as a turning point into the new normal as technology become part and parcel of our daily study life in African universities.

For entrepreneurs who want to invest in technology, Africa in the right venture and the market is open in not only higher learning institutions but the entire education sector from elementary level; Covid19 has revealed this.

“We really have courage for investment, but many administrators are too consecutive to adopt online training software.” This has been always an answer to the information technology entrepreneurs.       

Departments in African Universities should now see the gap, which would have been solved if they adopted the online system early to complement the traditional learning.

Now it can be obviously that the online learning is necessary as lecturers and student boring at home without hope of recent comeback.

Recently there has been some encouraging stories about some institutions which help students from both primary and secondary schools to learn online, yet some tradition media like radios and TVs have started airing learning programs for those students.   

But that has been impossible for higher learning institutions because it need lot of investment by the institutions themselves.

Time is this and online learning in our Universities can become a new normal even in Africa.  

Mussa Semuyemba