In Africa, the accessibility to both technology and quality education is limited. Even when technology is provided through philanthropic means, such as the “One Laptop Per Child” program, that doesn’t translate to improved education. Children receiving the free laptop in that case still showed little improvement in language and mathematics. That doesn’t mean community leaders in Africa aren’t pulling together to come up with solutions. It just means that expanding technology and educational opportunities is going to take more than just greater accessibility to devices.
For instance, there’s Grace Ouendo, who founded Access to Computer for Every Girl (AC-FEG) and who now serves as the organization’s communications manager. She says Africa as a whole community is only now beginning to recognize the benefits that technology can provide. She’s pleased to report that young students in Africa are beginning to find interest in subjects like web development and coding, which, in turn, establishes a need for those educational opportunities.
Ms. Ouendo also says she’s happy to see more African women pursuing IT careers, even though getting them involved has been a slow process. Grace explains that it has been like a chain reaction. The first successful female coders encouraged other African women to pursue IT careers. Those women inspired others, as well. Over time, the number of African women pursuing fields related to computer technology has continued to rise.
A New Solution for African Students
Erik Hersman is hoping to improve the educational system for all African students with his recent Kio Kit device, which operates with BRCK, another invention from Hersman. The Kio Kit is a tablet and, when running BRCK, it can access wifi capabilities in areas that are normally void of internet connectivity. Each tablet is customized for African students with a curriculum already loaded into it. The difference between Kio Kit and most other tablets is that there’s no network connection, so students are prevented from using other devices to surf the web. Instead, information must be added or updated through the BRCK connection.
Hersman says another key difference between Kio Kit and One Laptop Per Child is that there’s a smaller focus on power. Since the Kio Kit comes with its own rechargeable power pack, like most tablets, it doesn’t have to remain plugged into an outlet. This provides greater flexibility and makes it more efficient for classroom training. Additionally, teachers can select what topics can be added to the curriculum, so the educational opportunities provided by Kio Kit can be expanded.
Over time, more hardware and software will be introduced into the African educational system specifically tailored to their needs, allowing children to learn more about tech-related topics. This provides greater opportunities in whatever careers they may choose to pursue. Since technology and education have become interconnected, improving one can help African school systems and communities to improve the other.