African entrepreneurs called on to scale up learning innovations

23Jun 2020
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
African entrepreneurs called on to scale up learning innovations

​​​​​​​AFRICAN-based entrepreneurs and innovators have been called upon to scale up remote learning innovations, in a bid to address the dangers of remote learning in Africa linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bodour Al Qasimi, the vice-president of the International Publishers Association (IPA).

As a result, innovators will benefit from over US$200,000 that was disbursed recently as an incentive to promote remote learning during the crisis.

This comes after countries across the continent are struggling to come up with solutions that will enable students to cope with academics at home.

For instance, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) says that 89 per cent of learners in Sub-Saharan Africa have no access to a computer, 82 per cent have no internet access and around 56 million learners live outside mobile networks, thus complicating their ability to study remotely.

So far, all schools on the continent are still closed in an effort to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus.

“Covid-19 has taught us that technology can protect people and enable life and learning to continue. But this technology is not accessible to everyone,” said Bodour Al Qasimi, the vice-president of the International Publishers Association (IPA), which will administer the fund.

She said: “We are looking for bright minds and clever solutions to overcome these challenges in Africa by bringing learners, teachers and educational materials closer at a safe distance.”

She also pointed out that IPA will fund African innovators with potential ideas that will prove to eliminate bottlenecks to distance learning created by Covid-19.

Experts argue that the coronavirus pandemic containment measures like the viral lockdowns have hurt various sectors, including education.

Basing on the fact that schools have been closed since mid-March, says Maurice Twahirwa, an academician, most learning institutions are grappling with remote learning.

Therefore, in order to address this challenge, this fund should motivate local innovative solutions, Twahirwa asserts.