In September 2013, all countries that are members of the United Nations came together and established a plan for the sustainable development. One of the main goals of this plan which came into effect on 1 January 2016 was the provision of quality education for all. In its report entitled Internet for education in Africa: helping policymakers to meet the global education agenda sustainable development and published in May 2017, the Ministry of Youth and ICT in Rwanda have identified the ability to create an educational website as an asset in improving African education.
The need for good policy
The report mentioned above was initiated by Dawit Bekele, the regional director for Africa at the Internet Society, who believes that the internet is so important to the development of Africa that countries in the continent need specific policies regarding how the internet will be used to power up the education. The report uses insights from both the developing and developed world. Dawit Bekele concludes that the “internet is a cross-cutting enabler for education.”
While Bekele admits that the internet can be an important tool in facilitating education in the African continent, the region still lags behind when it comes to bringing internet connectivity to educational institutions. Hence, he suggests that one solution could be to create education community websites where resources could be pulled together for communities to access knowledge through the internet.
Why the internet is important for Africa’s education
The report concludes that the internet is an important resource in aiding education because education forms the basis of economic and social development. It argues that in order for Africa to be competitive within the world economy, it needs to be able to have a workforce that is skilled and has the ability to use ICTs effectively.
According to the Internet Society report, connecting African communities to the internet will also solve one of the biggest challenges in the continent: the shortage of qualified teachers and learning materials. Connecting communities through websites will then ensure that learners in the continent have access to some of the best teachers in the world.
The 2017 Internet Society report also refers to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which notes that over 25 percent of the African population already had access to the internet by 2016. This is the population that could benefit from using the internet for the purpose of learning.
Making internet available to all
Based on the Internet Society report, it can be concluded that Africa, with over half of its population having access to mobile phones, could benefit from websites promoting both formal and informal education. Hence the importance of ensuring the availability of the internet in the areas that suffer from poor infrastructure and a lack of skills. Governments could then play their part by ensuring that there is an adequate infrastructure for accessing the internet. This has the potential of positively impacting the education level of the population required to create jobs and improve communities.