In inter-connected world, knowledge and information are becoming corner stones for the development of a society, as is the ability to communicate.
Discussant to the Policy Forum’s breakfast debate, the Principal Research Officer from the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Dr. Gerald Kafuku has said that technology could immensely contribute to the education development in the country if properly utilised.
Dr Kafuku was speaking over the weekend in Dar es Salaam during a breakfast debate whose theme was “Digital platforms for social impact: The role of technology in addressing education challenges.”
He said that technology, including eLearning was very vital in addressing major challenges facing the education sector, such as lack of enough qualified teachers, lack of textbooks in the classrooms and the overcrowding of classrooms.
With eLearning students/pupils are not necessarily needed to go in traditional classrooms to attend lessons, but instead they can study even when they are at home, provided they have computers and internet connection.
By definition eLearning is utilising electronic technologies to access educational curriculum outside of a traditional classroom. In most cases, it refers to a course, programme or degree delivered completely online.
He however, suggested that in order for students to be able to use the technology efficiently, many ICT physical structures need to be constructed in schools across the country.
He said that COSTECH through the different established ICT hubs and incubators have been preparing the youth to be able to benefit from the technology and contribute to the country's development in the information age.
“We must therefore take advantage of the full range of ICTs, from radio and mobile telephony to computers and the Internet, to build the foundation for a well-educated and learning knowledge society,” He said.
He further noted that the integration of ICT in education will empower learners, teachers, educators, managers and leaders to use ICT judiciously and effectively for expanding learning opportunities and ensuring educational quality and relevance.
The use of ICT in education is the bedrock of a knowledge society and will enable the country to contribute both to achieving education for all goals and reducing the digital divide.
Mohammed Hamis who was one of the participants to the breakfast debate said that challenges in education are everywhere in the world. Education needs change and sustainability.
According to him the huge challenge facing the education sector is the way young people react to the dispersion technological devices…they create huge problems of destruction to children.
He therefore, suggested that key stakeholders in the education sector, in collaboration with the government should put in place policies that would turn technology to become beneficial to education rather than destructive. “We hope by doing so, it could minimise the adverse of destruction.”
The future of education is digital. This means delivering education through digital platforms to children and teachers. It will give an opportunity to access learning sources through a global platform, providing accessibility to teachers and breaking the barriers to gain quality education through physical classes. It is to absorb technology with the education system for better outsources.
For her part, the main presenter at the breakfast debate, Executive Director of Shule Direct Civil Society Organisation, dealing with education Faraja Nyalandu said that as a way of supplementing government’s efforts in addressing challenges faced in the education sector, her organisation was able to introduce an artificial intelligence dubbed: “Ticha Kidevu.”
According to her, Ticha Kidevu was a kind of website application which is designed to allow students/pupils be able to interact with a virtual teacher who would respond to their questions and provide links to where they can access reference materials through google searches.
An artificial intelligence in education is a catalyst that ensures students’ success by providing anytime, anywhere learning opportunities.
She further noted that, the interaction provided room for more students to learn amidst a shortage of teachers as well as get reference books, which are scarce in public schools in particular due to small budget allocations.
She said their innovation that got funds from COSTECH had aimed at addressing shortage of teachers and learning materials facing many schools across the country. It was first tested in the country in 2017.
She mentioned some of the pathways via technology as accessible teachers, supplementary learning opportunities and enhanced engagement with learning resources.
However, other participants have urged the government and its organs to ensure they control digital technology so that it did not become destructive to the youth and hence the entire society.