The state and standard of education in African countries can be assesses based on the data released by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
According to UNESCO.org,
“Sub-Saharan African countries are experiencing steady progress in education but children leave school, often without being able to read or write.”
Many educational institutions in Africa leverage have been improving education quality as well as access to education by switching classroom learning to elearning.
They leverage educational technology (edtech) to improve the standard of education in Africa by overcoming a variety of barriers to education. The cloud-based elearning solutions further help educational institutions to implement different types of digital learning in primary and higher education without building, maintaining, and upgrading expensive IT infrastructure. That is why; several market forecast reports suggest that the African elearning market will continue to grow in the near future.
According to Expert Market Research,
“The Africa e-learning market attained a value of around USD 905 million in 2020. The industry is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.5% between 2021 and 2026 to reach a value of about USD 2073 million by 2026.”
But the elearning market growth will depend on a variety of factors. Both policymakers and educational organizations can improve the state and standard education in Africa only by overriding common challenges and barriers in implementing elearning in Africa. The challenges and barriers vary across basic education and higher education. But no educational institution can improve education quality without overriding some of these key elearning implementation challenges.
Identifying 6 Key Challenges or Barriers in Implementing eLearning in Africa
1) Low Electricity Access Rate
According to the African Development Bank Group,
“Over 640 million Africans have no access to energy, corresponding to an electricity access rate for African countries at just over 40 percent, the lowest in the world.”
The policymakers cannot enable students to switch to learning without increasing the electricity access rate.
The policymakers have been developing and upgrading infrastructure to decrease the number of people without access to electricity. But a large percentage of students are yet to access electricity 24 hours a day. The no access or irregular access to electricity will remain a key hindrance in improving the state of education in Africa in the short run.
2) No Internet Access
The new-age elearning solutions enable students to attend online classes and access multi-format digital content seamlessly using computers or mobile devices. But no student can access and leverage the elearning solutions when she has no access to the internet. In African countries, lack of internet access is one of the prominent barriers to elearning implementation.
According to Aljazeera.com,
“In sub-Saharan Africa, mobile technology has evolved rapidly, but this has not happened to internet access. With 170 million users, internet penetration in Africa is at 18 percent, which is significantly lower than the global average of 30 percent, and only one in 10 households is connected to the net.”
3) Slow Internet Speed
In addition to no access to the internet, slow internet speed is one of the key challenges in elearning implementation in Africa.
According to Statista.com,
“As of 2020, 99.8 percent of the population in South Africa had access to the 3G mobile network. 4G/LTE coverage increased significantly from 53 percent in 2015 to 96.4 percent in 2020.”
The 3D mobile networks are almost ten times slower than 4G mobile networks. In most developed and developing countries, most students acquire knowledge and skills over the internet by leveraging 4G cellular networks. But most students in African countries still attend online classes and access digital learning materials over 3D mobile networks.
4) Conventional Teacher Training Programs
Often ineffectiveness of teacher training programs is cited as one of the key reasons for the poor state of education in Africa. Every teacher training program in Africa prepares and teachers to deliver classroom learning. The trained teachers often lack the knowledge and skills to teach students effectively in virtual classrooms or learning environments.
An educational institution cannot implement elearning successfully without training, reskilling, and upskilling teachers. The schools, colleges, and universities must implement training programs to make teachers leverage the elearning solutions fully. Also, they need to emphasize preparing teachers to keep students engaged and motivated in virtual learning environments.
The learning management systems and virtual classroom solutions enable students to acquire knowledge by accessing a variety of digital content – ebooks, PDFs, documents, infographics, audio clips, and videos. But most elearning materials are planned and developed in English. Also, most digital learning materials do not depict the culture and traditions of Africa accurately.
The elearning solutions come with built-in authoring tools to enable educational institutions to create learning materials in local languages. But the educational institutions often lack the skills and resources to create localized content in a short amount of time. They need ready-to-use digital libraries that enable students to access a wide variety of content and learning materials in their native languages.
6) Economic Condition and Financial Situation
In African countries, schools, colleges, and universities lack the infrastructure, skills, and resources to make online learning accessible to every student. In Africa, poverty or financial problems of families is one of the most important barriers in elearning implementation. Many bloggers and researchers believe that elearning is more viable for students from rich backgrounds and students from poor backgrounds.
According to SOS Children’s Village,
“Almost every second person living in the states of sub-Saharan Africa lives below the poverty line. Particularly affected by poverty in Africa are the weakest members of society, their children and women.”
Hence, elearning adoption and implementation in Africa directly depends on the eradication of mass poverty.
The policymakers and educational institutions cannot improve the state of education without switching from classroom learning to digital learning. But they have to overcome many challenges and barriers to implementing elearning in Africa successfully. In addition to integrating multiple digital learning modes, they need to choose the right digital learning solutions – learning management systems, virtual classroom software, online examination software, and digital library.