A classroom evokes nostalgic memories in many people’s minds; chalk, a blackboard and an educator at the top of their voice teaching as students scribble down notes. While this model has worked over the years, as with everything else, evolution is inevitable.
With revolutionary changes occasioned by technology in all facets of modern life by the likes of Uber, m-commerce platforms like Kenya’s M-Pesa and social media, you would expect that learning in our countries would’ve by now transformed.
However, the uptake of technology in our education system has been slower than desired and the classroom has conspicuously remained unchanged.
Nonetheless, education has continued to be at the centre of new innovations and advancements globally. And as such, we need to increasingly consider fusing technology into the learning environment.
As the workplace demands highly skilled, self-driven and technology savvy employees continue to soar, so must the impulse to transform the modern day classroom into productive, tech-fuelled environments in which students can develop the expertise they will require in the job market. It is projected that by 2020, 77 per cent of all jobs will require ICT skills.
Once we interrogate these, we will realise that there is a huge opportunity in using technology to deepen access to education.
Take Rwanda, for example. Through the One Laptop per Child Project, more than 200,000 laptops have been distributed to close to 800 schools and is expected to benefit more than 3 million pupils. It is not hard to imagine the level of empowerment that the younger generations in this country are being handed.
Kenya occupies a very opportune space to redefine the role of technology in driving literacy. With an understanding that the education sector is responsible for producing future employers, leaders and business people, there’s a need to adequately prepare our children to face this world.
We can do just this by using technology to redefine the learning environment — just as we have done with medicine, banking and even commerce.
It would be best to borrow from Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) when he opines: “The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know.”
Steyn is the general manager, Intel East Africa.