Uganda Teacher

Disparity Between Ideal and Real Online Education

The emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought new approaches but also new challenges to the world. Education systems have been affected and consequently are witnessing significant changes in their policies and methodologies.

The Online Education

UNESCO suggests different ways to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 on education, some of them are linked to technological platforms and the internet.

In some African countries, an introduction of online learning resources and strategies has allowed learning to continue. This approach seems ideal, considering the need for social distancing measures, however, there are challenges not yet addressed by governments hoping to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the education sector.

Access to the Internet

In 2018, a UN study published through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), showed that only half of the world population had access to the internet. For instance, in Africa, around 24% of the population use the internet (an increase from 2.1% in 2005).

Although access to the internet is increasing, there are many countries in Africa where a large percentage of the population is still offline. High prices, slow connections and weak infrastructure have been reported as the main problems and definitely limit the effectiveness of teaching and learning through online platforms.

africa online education 1

Teachers Training

An effective and inclusive implementation of online education must also consider factors such as learning resources and teacher training. There is vast inequality in the access to digital learning tools, including infrastructure, equipment and teacher’s preparedness.

But it’s not all bad news. The online teaching practices during the Covid-19 crisis are pushing the education sector for a technology upgrade and a positive system transformation that will endure into the future.

Sources

  • UN
  • UNESCO
  • ITU

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty and Illiteracy

illiteracy povertyIt is undeniable that poverty has a direct impact on children’s development. Millions of children around the world live in poverty and suffer from human rights violations, such as abuse and working exploitation.

Literacy seems to be the key to lifting children out of poverty, but what if their minds are overwhelmed by stress? According to research, children raised in poverty are more prone to suffer from stress and the long-term effects can be detrimental. They will struggle to make informed decisions, recall information, and exercise sound judgment. Their creative thinking abilities will also be limited.

It is therefore imperative that the effects of stress are taken into consideration when outlining strategies to reduce illiteracy.

Transform the Role of Teachers

illiteracy povertyTo empower children to participate and ask questions, teachers must establish a learning environment based on psychological safety. Some strategies include sticking to a predictable schedule, celebrating small goals, and personally addressing each child’s needs.

Since poverty can impact memory, it is also crucial that teachers extend patience and reassure students that it is okay to make mistakes. Fear of punishment or embarrassment will only stifle curiosity.

Finally, teachers must be trained to monitor and identify signs of stress in their students, should they need additional support.

Involve Parents and Families

Research shows that parents in poverty may become less inviting and compassionate as they try to balance finances, health, and caregiving. If parents are emotionally distant and cannot afford to prioritize their children’s development, this will cause additional stress.

As literacy requires time, encouragement and practice, children without support will lose out on valuable opportunities to apply their learning. By providing parents with support in the form of plans, materials, and a forum to seek advice, they can play a more active role in integrating literacy and a well-rounded education into their child’s day-to-day life.

poverty illiteracy 3Enable Social Connection

Children in poverty and living under stressful situations often feel alienated from others and have difficulty expressing themselves. Loneliness will only increase the anxiety they feel, further inhibiting their potential and continuing the cycle.

To foster more connection, children should be taught in collaborative settings. Encouraging children to read alongside their peers, share feedback, and build relationships provides a more engaging and enriching experience. A good learning experience that produces results should not feel like work – it should be fun!

The World Literacy Foundation strives to ensure its initiatives mitigate stress. Parental guides are provided to empower families to support children at home. Children also have access to literacy tutoring sessions in which they can safely learn, play, and even share a meal. The WLF has rolled out initiatives like the Kids Read One! Project to allow an entire class to read, learn, and socialize together.

Written by: Charanya Thiyan

Sources:

Literacy, the Access Code to Healing the World

Education in Nigeria The World Literacy Foundation as a global non-profit organization that seeks to create a greater understanding and awareness of literacy to the wider community through the use of social media, conferences, media, training, research, and collaborative partnerships in the sector. A case study undergone in Nigeria, known as the giant of Africa reports that 35 percent of its adult population is illiterate, and this number remains high because solutions made to address the issue have not seen success in yielding desired results.  Indeed, it is worrisome that 35 percent of the nation’s population is currently facing the consequences of illiteracy. Moreover, it is often unknown that the high rate of illiteracy is, in part, due to the low level of development in Nigeria.  Growth and development in any nation are dependent on the quality of resources available to the entire population.  

Sun BooksUsing solar power to educate

Sun Books is an initiative developed by the World Literacy Foundation that has designed and developed educational software that is preloaded onto solar-powered tablets.  Each tablet contains digital content and eBooks in English and the local language. Tablets are given to classrooms of early primary-level children, and teacher training on the usage of the program is also provided. Each tablet is effective, regardless of Internet access or electricity, which is important in territories such as Uganda where only 26.7% of the population has access to electricity, and Internet connectivity is limited, unstable, and low-speed.  

Ending the poverty cycle

Sun BooksAt the moment our team is based in Gulu, Uganda and we are expanding the project into other locations in Africa such as Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Guyana, and South Africa. We believe in literacy as the foundation of lifelong learning and education, and people that cannot read or write experience difficulties in developing simple everyday tasks, such as reading medicine labels, filling in job applications, or understanding traffic signs. When we help people to acquire literacy skills, we are empowering them to afford better opportunities in life, and little by little we are striving to break the poverty cycle.

Education in Sub Saharan Africa

The barriers of virtual teaching The COVID-19 outbreak has stopped the world in its tracks. It has unavoidably brought about a temporal lockdown of schools and colleges across the globe. As a result, a shifted focus on virtual teaching and learning has been an inevitable option for many educational institutions. Unfortunately, however, this path has not proven to be a panacea to the problem of disruptions in learning conditions but has instead, highlighted the educational inequity in the world. Students living in disadvantaged areas are faced with challenges such as lack of technological devices at home, limited or no internet connection, digital illiteracy, and electricity shortage.  According to the UNESCO, approximately 56 million of the world’s population live in areas that do not have access to a mobile network. Sub-Saharan Africa constitutes half of this population. 90 percent of students do not have household computers, while 82 percent are unable to get online.  

The low-cost tech solution to education

The digital divide continues to widen in regions like Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently, there are more than 120 million children and students out of school in West and Central Africa and those in excluded areas cannot keep up with homeschooling. Online distant education is an adequate initiative for keeping students learning during COVID-19 pandemic but many youths and children in rural communities are lagging in technological advancement. Several bodies are working to investigate and explore new technological innovations that promote and facilitate online teaching and learning in rural areas. For instance, the World Literacy Foundation has developed the Sun Books App that is pre-loaded onto solar-powered tablets, allowing African youths and children who live in remote localities access to hundreds of eBooks, literacy activities, and videos without internet connection or electricity. This is a low-cost solution that will keep children in a disadvantaged condition at home learning during the school’s lockdown.

How can we help?

If e-Learning initiatives are going to be implemented in developing countries like those in Sub-Saharan Africa, there should be proper education policies supported by the right innovative learning/teaching tools and a solid educational infrastructure in place. At the moment, there are many non-profit organizations working day by day to mobilize resources to assist learners in low-income areas. Still, they have been unable to successfully accomplish their objectives due to a lack of financial and human resources. It is time to join forces and foster partnerships to complement the efforts of these organizations towards meeting the needs of students who are now at home susceptible to educational setbacks. With this, the goal of quality education would be attainable without any community, classroom, or individual falling behind. Help the World Literacy Foundation close the educational gap and promote educational equality for all.

Written by: Aduloju Favour.
Edited by: Jennifer Rennie – Blue Autumn Copy

Sources:

  • UNESCO
  • worldbank.org

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©Copyright Sun Books. All right reserved.

An initiative by the World Literacy Foundation

©Copyright Sun Books. All right reserved. An initiative by the World Literacy Foundation

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