ICT tools providing big impact in developing education in Africa

The 2nd African Ministerial Forum on ICT Integration in Education and Training was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast 07 – 09.06.2016. This high-level forum is a regional policy dialogue mechanism created by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA), the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and their partners to assist member states to harness the potentials of ICT tools to achieve the goal of inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long learning for all. The presentations and interventions during the two days mapped the way forward for the continent in general plans to meet the African Union 2063 Agenda as well as STISA 2024 strategy. Additionally, many of the points that rose from the expert presentation were supporting the overall goals of CESA 16-25 as well as the African Development Bank Human Capital Strategy draft that was recently published.

Ms. Satu Järvinen, Director of Education Services of KOULU Group, was invited to moderate a Ministerial Roundtable on ICT and Technical and Vocational Skills Development (TVSD) for youth employment and entrepreneurship: Promising models”. The panelists of her session included:

  • Hon. Prof Mary Teuw Niane, Minister of Higher Education and Research – Senegal
  • Hon. Prof Abdoulaye Yero Baldé, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research – Guinea
  • Hon. Prof Narciso Damásio dos Santos Benedito, Secretary of State for Education, Angola
  • Mr Jerome Morrissey – CEO, GESCI
  • Mr David Maccaron – EMEA Education Director, Intel

In the session moderated by Ms. Satu, it became clear that there are already good practices and innovations that have been developed in order to use ICT tools to advance technical and vocational skills development. In addition, there is a growing interest in sharing these practices to new areas and adopting them in a new context.

Still many of the existing practices stem from older views on educational solutions. One key theme discussed in the session and the forum generally was the need of space for education innovators to develop and test new approaches. The nature of innovations requires room for iterative work and allowance to make errors through which the final solution is being developed. Thankfully, the countries present were willing to create such innovation spaces and programs. Related to that it was also pointed that given the amount of existing innovations, more effort should be put in bringing them to the attention of a larger audience and sharing them among member countries.

Aside the official program, Ms. Satu had the opportunity to engage in a number of discussions with the Forum participants and discuss how KOULU Group could support various countries and organizations achieve their goals for education generally and with ICT tools particularly. Those discussions will continue now that the forum is finished and certainly lead to long-lasting partnerships, trials, errors, friendships and most importantly: creating a multitude of ways for people to access quality learning.