In developing nations, over a billion students worldwide are unable to go to school. Many schools and universities across the world have suspended the in-person, brick-and-mortar concept of school teaching due to measures taken to curtail the widespread of COVID-19.
Students, teachers, school administrators and parents have been forced to face this new reality as educational institutions are left with no option but to consider delivering lectures digitally.
Is this evidence that COVID-19 is changing the face of reality in different industries?
In light of recent events, “this [shutdown] has forced the education sector to rethink its strategies, adopting new and creative ways of teaching for remote learning.
Closer home in Nigeria, the consequences have proven diverse. Every house has become a school and every parent is now a teacher as COVID-19 impacts the education of millions of students across the 36 States of Nigeria and the FCT.
HOW ARE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATORS AND GOVERNMENT RESPONDING
Following the closure of schools, The Governors of Ekiti & Ogun States announced steps taken by their Ministry of Education and State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to implement distance learning during the certain hours of the day through the local Television Station of each state.
Materials and programs are being delivered on-air via television, radio and website platforms such as https://ogundigiclass.ng/. The State Broadcasting Corporation of Ogun State (OGTV) and Ekiti state-owned radio station -Ekiti FM 91.5 are broadcasting academic programs daily for the period of one month. The World Bank is said to be actively working with ministries of education in countries around the world – in support of their efforts to utilize educational technologies to provide remote learning opportunities.
Remote Learning for Tertiary Education
Despite a government order to lockdown schools, learning has continued in some schools, thanks to Google Classroom.
Tertiary Institutions that reacted early had some time to prepare the technical resources needed to move their lectures online through Google classroom and some institutions like National Open University Nigeria (NOUN), a Nigeria’s foremost open university, already have the infrastructure in place to deliver distant learning. Some schools have resulted to delivering lectures through Whatsapp Groups, Instagram.
A goldmine for Edtech startups- Innovating for African Classrooms
According to business wire, “Africa’s e-Learning market was pegged to grow into a nearly $1.4 Billion market by 2022, As parents, teachers and students go online to fill in the gap of schools this might just leapfrog that number altogether.
Over the last decade, digital innovators and entrepreneurs have launched startups providing a wide range of learning tools ranging from content delivery, self-study, interactive learning, educational assessment etc, targeted at primary, secondary and pre-university students across the continent.
Some of these innovators include the likes of Ulessons, PrepClass and PassNowNow, Expo, Ted Prime Hub, Scholarx, Tuteria, among others.
Amidst infrastructural challenges like internet access, data costs and power availability, a number of Edtech startups have reportedly seen a massive surge in their user base. One of Nigeria’s pre-school startups, 9jakids, cofounded by Titi Adewusi, has experienced over 150% increase in Signups and recently partnered with Access Bank
What if this sudden disruption is actually a golden opportunity for those who invested in market-based education reform?
Source : Brite bridges
COVID-19 could pave the way for edtech funding and equity
It appears remote learning is now undergoing impromptu trials at different Nigerian schools and universities. With edtech fuelling the trend, this could be a defining moment for the future of edtech on the continent.
In the past, organizations like Union Bank have supported Edtech startups through its yearly Edtech Challenge EDU360, with funding between $10k – $20. In 2019, the following winners emerged – Edubox /Tedprime Hub, EXPO, and Utiva.
Just in time, Microtraction is reportedly investing in Startup Gradely, an edtech startup that uses an artificial intelligence (AI) platform to help parents and schools intervene real-time in student learning gaps.
Funding for educational technology is anticipated to skyrocket now that COVID-19 has revealed how essential it is in bridging the flexibility of learning.
Could this be the moment many well-heeled investors and entrepreneurs have been waiting for?
But ensuring that technology supports education for all people will require creativity and willingness to rethink and redesign technology, it is very interesting to witness how they leverage their own environment to shape relevant solutions to empower learners. This could also afford investors more opportunities to tap into their potential.
COVID-19 may just have provided edtech with an unlikely shot at a proper audition in Africa. It would be interesting to see how it fares. We’ve compiled a list of some prominent edtech platforms that could take advantage of this opportunity.