Technological innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Emerging technology has always had a continuous effect on western education, from the chalkboard to the digital whiteboard.  There has always been the need to update in order to communicate education more efficiently. However, some of the Developing World has been seriously affected by the digital divide. More specifically a region called sub-Saharan Africa, which is one of the poorest regions in the world. There are many obvious reasons behind the digital divide in Sub-Saharan Africa. Most of them caused by the underfunded school system in rural and poor areas. With this in mind, this article, supported by a number of case studies, is going to investigate what technological advances are being done in the developing world to help education.  To conclude, there will be an inquest into what the future lies ahead for these developing nations in education.

Schools all over Kenya are seriously underfunded. This has serious effects on school participation. Between 2008-2012, the net attendance of male secondary school students was 39.5%.

Slum and rural areas are the worst affected or places of “statehood”. These are areas of little governance, meaning schools lack the basic essentials. This results in a spiral of decline for young people in developing nations such as Kenya. As learning without the essential technology and resources is hard.

However, over the last 5 years, smartphones and tablet devices have sparked a wave of independent learning all over Africa.  A Kenyan consumer electric company named BRCK, have been transforming the rural classrooms of Kenya and the rest of Africa. The tablet learning system named Kio-kit has proven a great way to educate students in rural areas. The tablets have preloaded content but also have the ability to connect to the internet in order to update content. This provides an extremely effective way of learning without the need for textbooks.

Mobile Devices have proven to be extremely successful in Africa when it comes to education, with 73% mobile penetration across the continent. Internet access on mobiles has started to have an effect on the education divide in this developing continent.

In fact, MOOC’S( massive open online courses) are reevaluating the way in which learning takes place in developing countries. Due to this increased cheap accessibility to smartphones, learning is expanding from outside the classrooms. Giving people, who live in less developed areas, an increased chance to learn.

Regenesy Business school in Johannesburg South Africa has a free learning platform in which students have free access to all educational content. However, one downside is that students have to pay for examinations and to receive results. Its fantastic these learning platforms offer free educational content but having to pay for results could be a huge issue in poor areas.



Students taking part in their graduation at Regenesys Business School

Underfunded schools in developing countries don’t just have inadequate educational resources, it’s extremely hard for teachers to be professionally trained. Leading people to avoid teaching roles. A report in 2016, estimated that 17 million teachers in total were required in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is an extreme lack of desire for teaching roles in this region, this has severe impacts on the educational system.

The Varkey foundation funded by Dubai care, run an excellent project in Ghana which uses innovative technology, which has been carefully chosen to suit the region’s climate. The project is called “train for tomorrow”, school teachers are trained using a distance-learning cascade. Which helps them develop knowledge and methods through regular interactive training. This is only made possible by a satellite link and solar-powered infrastructure. The project has impacted 90,000 pupils. Which shows the impact innovative technology can have on learning in developing countries.

There will always be economical constraints when it comes to applying new technology to Sub-Saharan Africa. Although it varies from country to country on average sub-Saharan Africa spends 5% of its gross domestic product on education. Which is almost as much as Europe however, because of the region’s poverty this is subsequently not enough to facilitate up to date technological communication devices. Sub-Saharan Africa must respond to user needs and strengthen what is already working at this moment in time, such as the use of digital learning platforms on mobile devices.  An influx of technology will not benefit this region, but the sustainable use of technology will