An opportunity for Africa.

Author:Mohamed, Dounia Ben
Position:New technologies
 
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Until just a few years ago the world thought that computers, the internet and new information and communication technologies in general were only for amusement; nothing to do with conventional learning. Mankind has progressed since then and has learnt to tame the machine and to use it wisely as a tool for sharing and spreading knowledge. The question of providing quality education to all children by using, among other things, new technologies, was one of the critical issues under discussion at the WISE summit in Doha last month. New African's Dounia Ben Mohamed was there and reports on how new technologies represent an opportunity for Africa

In Africa one child in two does not finish their schooling. The figures are even worse for girls: one in four. How do we ensure the continent's future without its future elite having access to quality education? This is the major challenge for African leaders in view of the fact that the majority of the continent's population is young. And it is not enough to simply build schools. Teachers have to be trained, education has to be relevant and accessible, the infrastructure needed to enable children to attend school needs to be put in place: roads, school buses, and much more. But alas! Most of this is cruelly lacking in Africa today.

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Some ideas have emerged over the past few years to help address such situations; for example, if the child cannot go to school, then the school must go to the child. This is possible thanks to new technologies, among other things. In 2005, for example, Bruktawit Tigabu, a teacher by training, set up the first educational television programme for pre school age children in Ethiopia -Tsehai. "In Ethiopia there are no nursery schools. There is no pre school age education, so the children come to primary school completely unprepared," explains Tigabu, who was invited to WISE 2011. Broadcast on national television, Tsehai very quickly became a huge success. More than 5 million young television viewers watch the programme, a success that has allowed Bruktawit Tigabu to develop other educational television programmes for other age groups, including Tsehai Fidel School which helps to improve the methodology for teaching reading and writing in a phonetic, fun and interactive way, based on teaching materials. Her NGO, Whiz Kids Workshop, has received a number of prizes for its work, including the 2010 WISE award. Her programmes are shown beyond Ethiopia's...

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