How we are helping kids keep learning during COVID-19 pandemic
The world over, physical learning has been halted and most schools switched to e-learning platforms and systems to enable them keep running their education system and keep their students learning.
The situation in Africa
Africa is worst hit by this development because of its technological handicap as majority of schools in Africa cannot afford to adopt and implement e-learning. For starters, lack of fast Internet access and the high cost of Internet bundles is a great limiting factor. Taking Nigeria where we are based as a case study, the cheapest cost of an Internet bundle so far was offered by Airtel during this global lockdown which gives 9GB of Internet data for N2,000.00 with one month validity. With no means of earning a living and carefully managing what's left of their meagre savings people are unable to part with such amount of money to buy Internet bundle especially when such amount can feed a family of 6 for a day 3-square meal. There are no palliatives as seen in other developed countries to help cushion the effect of staying at home. And with many African homes having lots of mouth to feed, buying Internet bundles is not even an option.
Let us even analyze the 9GB data bundle. First, the one month validity clause for Internet bundles means if you do not exhaust this data bundle for one month, it will expire. Now, that is not the big challenge as the proposed one month data bundle hardly last for two weeks. The real problem is staying online for 5 hours following a live-streamed class will cost at least 2GB of data. So with 9GB data bundle, you can only afford 15-20 hours of learning possibly spread across days. Simply put, the realities of continuing education in a technologically challenged Africa is a great concern. Nothing has been said about the inconsistent power supply. An average Nigeria home has access to just 10-15 hours of power in a week, and there is no telling when the powers comes and when it goes.
Schools and government have gradually become aware of this challenges. A certain state in Nigeria has tried to keep student in touch with their academic studies by starting what it called "Radio school". This is a situation where teachers take turns to teach various subjects on radio while students listen in. This would have been a fantastic solution if it was introduced in 1973, but the fact that it is even an option to consider shows the pitiable condition Africa is when it comes to technological awareness.
What we are doing
In Ashpot, we are going into partnership with schools to deploy a digital school management system that supports e-learning and video streaming, Schoolzy
. When deployed, schools can continue to teach their students and run their academic processes without interruption from any part of the world.
In addition to this, we presently launched, AshpotLearn Youtube Channel
can runs weekly programming and coding classes for kids. This is like a remote implementation of our EarlyStart service and is aimed at helping schools and kids keep learning. The videos are short, interactive and easy to follow. We make provisions for assessments and feedback through the Ashpot Learn platform.
The outbreak of this pandemic is redefining education, and we hope with our collective effort we can overcome the challenges facing our continent
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